Salmon Watersheds Program

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Columbia River salmon data now available in the Pacific Salmon Explorer

May 3, 2022

The best publicly-available data for Pacific salmon in the Columbia River watershed is now available in the Pacific Salmon Explorer, an online data visualization tool developed by the Pacific Salmon Foundation’s (PSF) Salmon Watersheds Program, which now includes data on 90 per cent of salmon in B.C. The addition of the Columbia to the Pacific Salmon Explorer provides a snapshot of local salmon populations and current human and environmental pressures on their freshwater habitats.

Salmon once thrived in the Canadian portion of the Columbia River watershed. However, as a result of nearly a century of human development, most notably dam construction, salmon can no longer access spawning habitat in most of the region. Over the past decade, collaborative stewardship efforts have catalyzed impressive returns to the Okanagan River, a tributary of the Columbia. As data in the Pacific Salmon Explorer demonstrates, Okanagan sockeye are experiencing year-over-year improvements in the number of returning adult salmon thanks to dedicated recovery efforts of local organizations such as the Okanagan Nation Alliance.

“Our update to the Pacific Salmon Explorer includes the addition of the two remaining salmon Conservation Units salmon found in the Canadian portion of the Columbia River watershed. With this update, the Pacific Salmon Explorer now provides access to the most up-to-date information on spawner abundance, hatchery releases, run timing, biological status and trends, and habitat pressures,” said Vesta Mather, Salmon Watersheds Program project manager.

This work was made possible through the generous expertise and input shared by local knowledge holders and groups undertaking focused work in the region including the Okanagan Nation Alliance, Shuswap Indian Band, Ktunaxa Nation Council, Living Lakes Canada, Okanagan Basin Waterboard, Okanagan Fisheries Foundation, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, the Province of British Columbia, and others.

“Expertise from these groups and their extensive work with sockeye and Chinook allowed us to identify specific spawning locations that informed the habitat assessments,” said Dr. Katrina Connors, director of the Salmon Watersheds Program. “Local knowledge is a critical part of these habitat assessments and for improving our collective understanding of how current habitat pressures may be affecting the recovery of local salmon populations. With the addition of the Columbia, PSF is one step closer toward its goal of democratizing access to information on the state of salmon and their habitats in B.C.”

Key facts about the Columbia addition to the Pacific Salmon Explorer