December 8, 2021
The Pacific Salmon Foundation’s (PSF) Salmon Watersheds Program is pleased to publicly release a comprehensive overview of salmon Conservation Units and their habitats for Haida Gwaii on the Pacific Salmon Explorer, a PSF tool that provides data that is essential in understanding the status of salmon, threats to their habitats, and for prioritizing salmon restoration and recovery strategies. The PSE update adds information on 765 salmon populations to the tool. This addition provides decision-makers with the most comprehensive open source information available to support decision making for salmon watersheds in Haida Gwaii.
Engagement with local salmon experts was critical to the success of this project. PSF collaborated with representatives from Haida Fisheries, Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s Salmon Enhancement Program, Parks Canada, the Gowgaia Institute, the Hecate Strait Streamkeepers, and independent salmon experts to identify local salmon spawning locations. The collective identified 16 new salmon-bearing watersheds that had not been previously documented, further enhancing the baseline of available information for Haida Gwaii salmon.
With the addition of Haida Gwaii, the Pacific Salmon Explorer now presents the best available data for 90% of all salmon populations and their freshwater habitats in B.C., one step closer towards PSF’s goal of creating an open-access tool for accessing information on the state of salmon and their habitats for all of B.C.
Key facts about the Haida Gwaii addition to the Pacific Salmon Explorer
- With the expansion to Haida Gwaii, the PSE now provides access to salmon data for almost 90% of all salmon Conservation Units in B.C. Access to information on salmon is central to identifying effective strategies for salmon conservation and recovery. Aside from the PSE, there is no other online tool where the public and learn about pressures on salmon habitats and the current status and trends of salmon.
- Some salmon species are faring poorly in the region. For example, chum salmon in Haida Gwaii show a 56% decline in the most recent decade with data (2004-2013) compared to the long-term average.
- Salmon face many pressures in their freshwater habitats. For example, 100% of assessed Chinook spawning habitats in Haida Gwaii are estimated to be facing a high risk of habitat degradation as a result of road development. Extensive road development, in this case largely due to forestry operations, can interfere with natural patterns of overland flow, interrupt subsurface flow, and increase peak flows. In Haida Gwaii, roads are a significant cause of increased erosion and fine sediment generation, impacting downstream salmon spawning and rearing habitats.
- While PSF has compiled the best available data, major data gaps impede our ability to assess the status of almost half of salmon on Haida Gwaii. We were only able to assess status for 16 of 29 Conservation Units in the region. Significant declines in monitoring of spawning has led to hundreds of streams going unmonitored.
This work has been supported by the British Columbia Salmon Restoration and Innovation Fund (BCSRIF) through Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Province of B.C.