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

Police blocked off 40th Avenue on Jan. 10, 2015 while firefighters battled a meth lab blaze. The fire has led to a lawsuit against Langley Township. (Langley Advance Times files)
Bill for meth lab fire leads to lawsuit against Langley Township

Local farmers say they shouldn’t have to pay costs of putting out fire in rental house

Wes Barker, second from left, with fellow Big Trick Energy show performers on “Ellen,” in video posted to youtube.com.
VIDEO: On ‘Ellen,’ former Langley man works magic with new ‘Big Trick Energy’ gang

A decade ago, Wes Barker quit his job with the City of Surrey to do magic professionally

Dr. Bonnie Henry gives her daily media briefing regarding Covid-19 for the province of British Columbia in Victoria, B.C, Monday, December 7, 2020.   THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
More Langley-area business closed due to COVID-19

Any business with three or more cases among employees can be closed

Vancouver Giants victorious over the Royals in Kamloops Thursday, April 15. The G-Men won, 4-0. (Allen Douglas/Special to Black Press Media)
VIDEO: Giants young goalie shutouts Victoria, 4-0

The Langley-based WHL team earn another victory over the Royals Thursday in Kamloops

Critter Care’s first ever 50/50 winner is Kim Madill, who took home $28,852.50. (Critter Care/Special to The Star)
Winner takes home $28,852.50 through Critter Care’s first virtual 50/50

Kim Madill instantly donated part of the funds to the Langley-based wildlife society

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

Nick Warmerdam and his dog Diesel are inviting locals to check out the Lakeland Farm U-pick Flower Farm this spring. (Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News)
VIDEO & SLIDESHOW: Abbotsford’s Lakeland Flowers opens for spring

Tulip farm attraction opened on April 14, open to the public daily seven days a week

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

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

The female driver of this Jeep Grand Cherokee (right) was driving erratically with a young child inside on Highway 1 eastbound. After hitting a barrier and a parked car, she finally exited the highway at Yale Road West and came to a stop. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Video captures woman driving erratically with child after hitting barrier, car on Hwy 1 in Chilliwack

Smoke seen coming from SUV as it continues to travel eastbound of shoulder of highway

Former Pitt Meadows city councillor David Murray was convicted of sex assault, and is now being sued by the victim. (files)
Former Pitt Meadows city councillor sued for sex assault

David Murray was convicted in 2017 of sexually assaulting a teen 25 years earlier

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