Pacific Salmon Foundation: Salmon Watersheds Program

Clea Schooner and Josh Vickers by the Kunsoot River biosampling salmon. Photo by Olivia Leigh Nowak.
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Prioritizing Conservation Strategies for Pacific Salmon on BC’s Central Coast

In Canada, there is no overarching strategic framework for determining how and where to invest limited funds to address the multiple threats facing Pacific salmon. To address this challenge, we partnered with the Central Coast Indigenous Resource Alliance, the Nuxalk, Kitasoo/Xai’xais, Heiltsuk, and Wuikinuxv First Nations, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and other salmon experts from the University of British Columbia, University of Victoria, and Simon Fraser University, to work through a strategic planning exercise for salmon on BC’s Central Coast.

Using a decision-support tool — the Priority Threat Management (PTM) framework — we worked with regional salmon experts to quantify the benefits, costs and feasibility of implementing 10 different salmon conservation strategies over the next 20 years. We found that current investments in salmon conservation are insufficient to support healthy and thriving populations over the next 20 years. In the absence of implementing the management strategies identified by the experts, only one in four Conservation Units (CUs) on the Central Coast will have a greater than 50% probability of being healthy and thriving within the next 20 years.

However, while experts felt that the overall outlook for Pacific salmon is concerning, experts believed that implementing the identified conservation strategies is expected to significantly improve the overall prospects for salmon. If all 10 proposed conservation strategies were implemented, almost all CUs (78 of 79) are predicted to have greater than 50% probability of reaching or maintaining a thriving condition after 20 years. The cost of implementing all proposed strategies is estimated to be $17.3 million (CAD) per year over 20 years.

Independent of the management strategies, an additional $0.7 million per year is needed to conduct monitoring and assessment of salmon CUs, above what is already spent on monitoring in the Central Coast. Monitoring and assessment is a core enabling strategy that underpins the success of all other strategies identified by the experts.


The results from this project demonstrate that intentional investments and the strategic allocation of funding is required to support the long-term persistence of Pacific salmon in the region. Beyond BC’s Central Coast, the Priority Threat Management framework could serve as a model for other regions or First Nations interested in systematic and strategic planning. It could inform the implementation of existing legislation and policies such as the Canadian Species at Risk Act and Canada’s Wild Salmon Policy. For further details on project methods and results, including our key findings, see the reports linked below.

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