For every male sockeye salmon that doesn’t make it back to its spawning grounds, at least two, sometimes three females die, says findings from a recent UBC study. (Courtesy Photo/MC Martin)

For every male sockeye salmon that doesn’t make it back to its spawning grounds, at least two, sometimes three females die, says findings from a recent UBC study. (Courtesy Photo/MC Martin)

Study uncovers B.C. female salmon dying 2x the rate of males

Dr. Scott Hinch predicts the disparity will become more prominent in coming years, calls upon the DFO to help ease their migration journey

Decades of research has led UBC professor Dr. Scott Hinch to uncover female salmon in B.C. are dying at unprecedented rates.

For every male sockeye salmon that doesn’t make it back to its spawning grounds, at least two, sometimes three females die, according to findings published this week.

For three decades, adult Fraser River sockeye salmon were tagged, tracked and analyzed during ocean and freshwater migrations. Hinch compared females to males by using blood samples to determine sex.

“We saw the same pattern emerging year after year,” Hinch said. “Species with a larger decline in females on spawning grounds were the most threatened or endangered.”

Before the 2000s, female salmon outnumbered males in spawning grounds – Hinch attributes the change in trend to the changing Pacific environment and physiology of female salmon.

“In the past few decades, there has been a two-degree warming of the Fraser River,” the professor said, noting an effect of climate change. Increased water temperatures make salmon vulnerable to health complications, including heart and stamina issues.

“Salmon only spawn once, then they die. When they make that journey their natal area at the mouths of the Fraser River, they don’t eat,” Hinch said.

Fewer survivors during spawning or reproduction are causing a decline in B.C. salmon populations.

READ MORE: B.C. sockeye salmon run a spectacle (VIDEO)

Hinch is predicting the disparity to become even more prominent in coming years as the ocean and rivers warm continue to warm.

“We’re already seeing reduced runs in fisheries as a result of climate change and elevated water temperatures,” he said.

He is calling upon the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to ease the migration journey for salmon, much like what is being done in Fraser River’s Big Bar landslide – the construction of a $176 million fishway.

He also suggests a harvest rate decrease to protect a larger number of salmon from fishing during higher temperatures or flows – giving more females a chance at surviving long enough to reproduce.

Annually, salmon fishing supports more than 8,000 B.C. jobs, generating roughly $200 million in tax revenue, while commercial fisheries bring in around $200 million.

RELATED: Rockslide in B.C. river raises salmon spawning concerns



sarah.grochowski@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

DFOfishingFraser RiverSalmon

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Oliver Fire Department. (Submitted photo)
More human caused fires in Oliver

Firefighters have been kept busy putting out several potentional wildfires

Old English design elements can be seen in the sign of the Summerland Farm and Garden Centre in 1993. The guidelines are no longer in place, but some downtown businesses still show aspects of the days when Summerland had a theme in place. This photo was taken by Summerland photographer Dan Dorotich. (Photo courtesy of the Summerland Museum)
Summerland’s Old English theme has been abandoned

From the 1980s until the early 2000s, Summerland had design guidelines in its downtown

Penticton bylaw officers tore down a “pretty significantly sized” homeless camp underneath the bridge near Riverside Drive Friday, April 16 morning. (Brennan Phillips - Western News)
Penticton bylaw tears down ‘significantly sized’ homeless camp under bridge

Many residents had made complaints about the camp before it was torn down

Through their Simple Generosity campaign, Valley First has pledged to donate $1 million of community support to British Columbia communities in 2021. (Contributed)
Valley First rewarding Penticton families with innovative way to thrive together

Participants with ‘inspiring ideas’ will receive a surprise for their family, valued at up to $2,500

Elvira D’Angelo, 92, waits to receive her COVID-19 vaccination shot at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, March 7, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
110 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

Provincial health officers announced 1,005 new cases throughout B.C.

Flow Academy is located at 1511 Sutherland Avenue in Kelowna. (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)
Black Press Media Weekly Roundup: Top headlines this week

Here’s a quick roundup of the stories that made headlines across the Okanagan, from April 11 to 16

An Extinction Rebellion Vancouver Island (XRVI) climate change event in 2019 saw a large crowd occupy the Johnson Street bridge. Black Press File Photo
‘We walk in grief for our dying world’: B.C. climate activists embark on 4-day protest

The four-day trek on foot and by ferry will see them end at the legislature

A vial of some of the first 500,000 of the two million AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses that Canada secured. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Carlos Osorio
Canada’s 2nd blood clot confirmed in Alberta after AstraZeneca vaccine

Thw male patient, who is in his 60s, is said to be recovering

Valen a student of Coldstream Elementary writes advice for adults amid a pandemic.
‘We can get rid of COVID together’: B.C. kids share heartwarming advice

Elementary students share their wisdom to adults in unprecedented times

Mervin Mascarenhas giving one of his pens to Honorary JP-MP. Premier David Burt of Bermuda. (Image: Mervin Mascarenhas)
Kelowna man who made $90K ‘Space Pen’ recognized by dignitaries, sheikhs

Mervin Mascarenhas is the first Canadian to grace the cover of Millennium Millionaire Magazine

The funeral of Britain’s Prince Philip in Windsor, England, on Saturday, April 17, 2021. Philip died April 9 at the age of 99. (Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP)
PHOTOS: Prince Philip laid to rest Saturday as sombre queen sits alone

The entire royal procession and funeral took place out of public view within the grounds of Windsor Castle

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. health minister says delay in Moderna vaccine ‘disappointing’

‘The sooner we get vaccines in people’s arms the better, and inconsistency in delivery is a consistent problem. This is simply a reality and not an issue of blame,’ Adrian Dix said Friday

(Police handout/Kamloops RCMP)
B.C. man dies in custody awaiting trial for Valentine’s Day robbery, kidnapping spree

Robert James Rennie, who was on the Kamloops RCMP’s most wanted list, passed away at the North Fraser Pretrial Centre in Coquitlam

Photos of Vancouver Canucks players are pictured outside the closed box office of Rogers Arena in downtown Vancouver Thursday, April 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Canucks to return to play Sunday versus Leafs after COVID-19 outbreak

The team has had 11 games postponed since an outbreak late last month

Most Read