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

FILE – Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs have agreed to sign a memorandum on rights and title with B.C. and Ottawa, but elected chiefs are demanding it be called off over lack of consultation. (Thom Barker photo)
Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs, Lake Babine Nation get provincial funding for land, title rights

Government says it’s a new, flexible model for future agreements between Canada, B.C. and First Nations.

I want to fly higher. Eva Moore and her brother Leroy Moore are treated to some high pushes from Simon Temple while swinging at Moose Tot Park on April 15. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Photo Gallery: Prince Rupert tots enjoy fun in the sun

Warmer weather is attracting kids of all ages to play outside

The property on which a residential school (pictured) that was torn down years ago in Lower Post is to be the location of a cultural centre. (Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre photo)
Lower Post residential school building to be demolished, replaced with cultural centre

Project to be funded by federal and provincial governments, Daylu Dena Council

The Cancer Care Unit at Prince Rupert Regional Hospital, April 14, will benefit from a $100,000 donation from Prince Rupert Port Authority towards renovations. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Prince Rupert Port Authority donates $100,000 to hospital renovations

Cancer Care Unit at PRRH to undergo upgradesat PRRH to undergo upgrades

Teresa Van sorts bottles at the April 10 Rainmakers Interact Club bottle drive to earn funds for six Seabin garbage collection units for harbours and waterfronts in the local region. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Bottle drive successful with more collected than can be sorted in one day

Rainmakers Interact Club supports local community with funds toward ocean garbage collection units

Rainbow trouts thrashing with life as they’re about to be transferred to the largest lake of their lives, even though it’s pretty small. These rainbows have a blue tinge because they matched the blue of their hatchery pen, but soon they’ll take on the green-browns of their new home at Lookout Lake. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
VIDEO: B.C. lake stocked with hatchery trout to delight of a seniors fishing club

The Cherish Trout Scouts made plans to come back fishing soon

Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops. (Dave Eagles/Kamloops This Week file photo)
RCMP intercept vehicle fleeing with infant taken from Kamloops hospital

The baby was at the hospital receiving life-saving care

Vancouver Police Const. Deepak Sood is under review by the Independent Investigations Office of B.C. after making comments to a harm reduction advocate Sunday, April 11. (Screen grab)
VIDEO: Vancouver officer convicted of uttering threats under watchdog review again

Const. Deepak Sood was recorded Sunday saying ‘I’ll smack you’ and ‘go back to selling drugs’ to a harm reduction advocate

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate persists, 1,005 new cases Friday

Hospitalization up to 425, six more virus-related deaths

Premier John Horgan receives a dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine at the pharmacy in James Bay Thrifty’s Foods in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, April 16, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. Premier John Horgan gets AstraZeneca shot, encourages others

27% of residents in B.C. have now been vaccinated against COVID-19

The Nautical Dog Cafe at Skaha marina is getting its patio ready in hopes Mother Nature will provide where provincial restrictions have taken away indoor dining. (Facebook)
‘A lot of instability’: B.C. restaurants in layoff limbo

As COVID-19 cases stay high, restaurants in British Columbia are closed to indoor dining

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau looks on as Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Expectations high as Trudeau Liberals get ready to unveil first pandemic budget

The Liberals will look to thread an economic needle with Monday’s budget

Since April 4, 38 flights with COVID-19 cases have departed from Vancouver International Airport, while 23 arrived. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Vancouver the largest source of domestic flights with COVID-19 cases: data

This month alone, 38 flights with COVID-19 cases have departed from Vancouver International Airport, while 23 arrived

John Furlong, Own The Podium board chairman and former CEO of the Vancouver Olympics, addresses a Vancouver Board of Trade luncheon in Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday November 25, 2015.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
John Furlong presents 2030 Winter Games vision to Vancouver Board of Trade

Vancouver and Whistler would remain among host sites because of 2010 sport venues still operational

Most Read