Two young fishers were on the Skeena River March 2018 to fill their nets with eulachons. The eulachon run was in full swing over the weekend with eagles, seagulls, sea lions and seals joining in on the feast. (Shannon Lough / The Northern View)

Eulachon habitat nets grant for population study

Lax Kw’alaams will lead project assessing Ecstalls and Lower Falls rivers near Prince Rupert

Eulachon near Prince Rupert have landed a $57,200 boost from the Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program.

“This work will really help improve the science and understanding of the species and provide an opportunity to help eulachon in the future, as well as those communities that use to depend upon them,” said Julie Fournier, FWCP Coastal Region Manager, in a press release.

“Eulachon are prized for food, medicine and ceremony for Lax Kw’alaams First Nation, and populations in the Ecstalls and Lower Falls rivers have provided some of the best eulachon grease. But those populations have been in a state of decline over the last 70 years.”

READ MORE: Kayaking down the Skeena during the eulachon run

The funds will help the Lax Kwa’alaams-led project study the eulachon population in the Ecstalls and Lower Falls rivers approximately 50 kilometres south of Prince Rupert. They will determine the conditions of the eggs and adult fish habitat in the rivers. The environmental conditions and habitat use in both rivers will be examined to see if the area is good for spawning. The project will also look at what can be improved and whether the eulachon may need the help of a habitat restoration plan.

The project is one of 30 receiving funds from FWCP this year, totalling $1.8 million to projects by BC Hydro, the province, Fisheries and Oceans Canada and First Nations. Fourteen watersheds impacted by BC Hydro dams are eligible to receive the $2 million a year that BC Hydro provides and the Coast Region board decides which projects will get funding.

Results are expected to be seen in spring 2019 — the same time as the next eulachon run.

READ MORE: Icy conditions in the Skeena complicates eulachon fishing

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Sea lions feast in the Skeena River during the 2018 eulachon run. (Shannon Lough / The Northern View)

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