Fraser River sockeye have experienced low returns in recent years due to declines in survival that began in the mid-1990s, with the exception of a brief period of average to above returns from 2010 to 2014. Total Fraser sockeye survival is affected by both marine and freshwater drivers that occur on local to regional scales. Habitat is a limiting factor for salmon production in some freshwater streams and lakes, and can be improved through restoration and habitat alteration activities. Variation in population growth rates and production capacity of salmon systems are related to habitat variables, including riparian vegetation, stream depth, temperatures, and gravel size. However, in the absence of data on such stream-level habitat characteristics, or even juvenile data for most Conservation Units, which would allow us to isolate trends in marine versus freshwater survival, how are habitat-based stressors identified and restoration activities planned to ensure that projects are correctly prioritized across the Fraser watershed?
To identify these stressors and prioritize restoration activities we propose to collaborate with consultants and various DFO scientists. This work will improve information sharing between individuals within and outside of DFO by standardizing data storage across species, and making data, and data quality, accessible. In enabling access and exploration of these data on a watershed level, habitat issues affecting the survival of Fraser sockeye may be identified and prioritized.