The Wannock/Owikeeno watershed historically supported one of the largest sockeye populations in BC, currently supports some of the largest Chinook salmon found in the eastern Pacific and has unknown numbers of coho, pink and chum salmon. Prior to implementing the DIDSON and ARIS sonar monitoring systems on the Wannock River annual estimates of Chinook and sockeye escapements to the Wannock/Owikeeno watershed were highly uncertain. This project provides the first reliable escapement estimates for Wannock Chinook since the mark-recapture studies conducted in the 1990’s. The 2014 and 2015 projects provided the first estimates of the total sockeye escapement to the Owikeeno watershed that were based on quantitative daily counts for the entire sockeye run. These estimates are in contrast to the historical estimates that were derived expanding visual escapement estimates for a few of the tributaries to Owikeeno Lake where spawners can be seen.
The funding requested from the PSC was used to cover the costs associated with operating the DIDSON/ARIS sonar systems from early July to early August when the vast majority of fish migrating upstream on the Wannock River are sockeye salmon. Data from the Wuikinuxv gillnet test fishery and potential fishwheel operations will be used to determine the species composition for 50- 70 cm salmon during the sockeye migration period. The funds required to operate these sonar monitoring systems during the Chinook migration period (after the sockeye run) will be provided through Rivers Inlet Salmon Initiative. The results from this project will be used to refine escapement goals and direct restoration and enhancement efforts for each salmon species.