BC scientists are running out of salmon to study, the Great Lakes could be the answer

Originally seen in Fish’n Canada’s Week in Review

Over the last few months, we here at Fish’n Canada have been extensively covering the decline of salmon and steelhead in British Columbia – and now, the numbers may even be too low to support proper research.

According to Carleton University biologist Steven Cooke, via Hakai Magazine, the situation in BC is “at the point with some populations where we have to be hands-off. We don’t want to study them to extinction.”

With the situation out west seeming to worsen by the year, Canadian biologists such as Cooke are now beginning to switch their focus to the Great Lakes where salmon populations have begun to thrive. Stemming from stocking efforts conducted in the 1960s, these lakes are now home to thriving populations of Chinook and Coho Salmon, the exact species we are hoping to see revived in the west.

While researchers are encouraged by the rise in the Great Lakes population, they do also acknowledge that these Great Lakes residents are not perfect comparisons. For starters, the migration patterns are much different, with the run from Lake Ontario to its tributaries just a fraction of what a salmon in the Fraser might carry out in a year as it heads back from sea. Additionally, the absence of large saltwater predators, such as Orcas and Seals, will likely also limit how much information can be gained from the predator-free “Kings” of the Great Lakes.

That being said, researchers are still hopeful that valuable information can be gained from these lake-bound populations and use the stable numbers of fish to allow us to better understand the collapse that is currently taking place out west.


This excerpt was taken from Fish’n Canada’s Week in Review, our weekly recap of all things relevant to the Canadian outdoorsman. For more stories like this, check out the full article below and tune back in every Friday to catch up on everything you missed!