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.

Kieran Christison, manager of Daybreak Farms in Terrace inspects eggs on Oct. 30, 2020. Christison wants to transition to a zero waste, cage-free facility. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Daybreak Farms aiming to achieve zero-waste, cage-free facility

Kieran Christison, manager, presented the farm’s future plans to Terrace city council

Mercedes Trigo, assistant manager, said that Trigo’s Lifestyle Store in Terrace has experienced four broken windows and an attempted break-in recently, leaving her feeling unsupported by bystanders and the police. (Ben Bogstie/Terrace Standard)
Trigo’s management frustrated by property damage, theft

In a little over a month there have been four broken windows and an attempted break-in at the store

Two RCMP officers have been recognized for their actions in responding to an incident involving a man with a weapon at 4501 Park Ave. on the afternoon of April 27, 2020. RCMP say it was an isolated incident and there is no danger to the general public. (Jake Wray photo)
Terrace RCMP officers recognized for acts of bravery

Two involved in arrest of armed suspect

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

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 games against Leafs postponed as team returns from COVID-19

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

Danita Bilozaze and her daughter Dani in Comox. Photo by Karen McKinnon
Island woman makes historic name change for truth and reconciliation

Becomes first person in Canada to be issued new passport under the TRC Calls to Action

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

Most Read