Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Okanagan salmon is back

 It takes a community: Despite the odds, Okanagan salmon is back


 Several years ago I wrote that fesh water salmon at least need to be introduced into our lake systems including the Great Lakes and ultimately throughout the boreal forest. This steruck me as the best and easiest as thanks to the recent retreat of the Ice Age much of our lake system had as yet been fully optimised.


Now we discover just how rapidly this can happen. The clear next step is to stock all those lakes in the Okanagon which thanks to advanced hatchery technology is now laughibly efficient.


Obviously the next step is to thouroughly stock the Okanagon Lake system fully and harvest enough each year to allow minimal wastage. I think we may be looking at thousands of tons.


Better this will make the Okanagon the ideal fishing holiday for the whole family. Come to the Okanagon and have your host prepare a meal of salmon that you have just caught beside his winery.


My point is that for this one lake the real payoff is that big. It also tells me that Lake Champlain could use this fish also to replace the salmon fishery long since destroyed. The key is really the efficent hatchery and fry rearing system now available. That is what swamped this lake here.


We will fully restore the salmon culture here yet.


It takes a community: Despite the odds, Okanagan salmon is back


How a community came together to save the Okanagan sockeye salmon

By Joanne Sasvari, special to the Sun July 29, 2014


This is a fish story. But it’s not a tall tale about the one that got away. Instead, it’s the story of a fish that, against all odds, came back.


It’s such a good news story and when it comes to fisheries, you never have good news stories,” says Ingrid Jarrett, general manager of the Watermark Beach Resort and president of the Thompson Okanagan Slow Food convivium. “Usually, it’s one disaster after another.”


The fish in question is the Okanagan sockeye salmon. Never heard of it? You’re not alone. Although the rivers and lakes of the Okanagan Valley once ran silvery blue with this once-abundant inland fish, its numbers were decimated by a series of man-made disasters until it came close to extinction in the mid-1990s.


But now the salmon is back in Osoyoos Lake, in such large numbers that it’s become an exciting new addition to the local food scene. There are so many fish that, on Thursday, the recreational and commercial fishery will officially open on the lake. Until a couple of years ago, there had never been a recreational fishery here, ever.


How all this came about is the result of an unprecedented collaboration between the Okanagan Nation, the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans, the provincial government, local foodies, environmentalists, recreational fishers, tourism experts and consumers on both sides of the Canada-U.S. Border.


I’ve never been involved with a recovery in such a short time, when the power of prayer and perseverance of people working together (created such) a positive outcome,” says Richard Bussanich, fisheries biologist for the Okanagan Nation Alliance. “That’s unique in itself.”Take a tour through the Nk’Mip Desert Cultural Centre in Osoyoos and, among the First Nations artifacts, you’ll see the kinds of salmon drying racks typical to the Pacific coast. But Osoyoos is a long way from the ocean. So, you might wonder, what are they doing here?


Turns out that, for millennia, the Okanagan Nation relied on a unique species of inland salmon as a major part of their diet.


They were never hunters; they were always fishers,” says Jarrett. “This was the main protein for the Okanagan First Nations and they would have traded with the Similkameen First Nations, who were hunters. If you speak to the elders, they all remember the sockeye. But only the elders.”


Then, in the 1930s, during the height of the Depression, the United States embarked on a series of public works projects to create employment. One of the biggest was the Grand Coulee Dam on the Columbia River — the river into which the Okanagan flows, and where the salmon migrate each year. Like dozens of other hydroelectric dams along the rivers, it was built without any thought as to how the fish would get through.


The salmon population, not surprisingly, dwindled.


In the 1950s, both Canada and the U.S. began “channelizing” the rivers, making them easier for humans to navigate, but destroying the sockeye’s natural habitat in the process. In the entire Columbia Basin, only a small stretch of river beneath McIntyre Bluff was left untouched.






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