How has climate change affected the salmon on Vancouver Island?

Environment   Apr 10, 2017 by L. Alejandra Gordillo N.

Salmon Blog Entry

How has climate change affected the salmon? This is my group’s inquiry question. We chose this topic because we are concerned about this important keystone species’ future and the impact that it would have if it goes extinct. We have done a deep research with the help of some experts on the topic from various perspectives. This research has personally opened my eyes before I could not see the bigger picture of what was going on with climate change and salmon life cycle. However, now this has changed, out team have learned throughout our investigation more about how climate change has affected the salmon in the Cowichan Valley. We have noticed that this issue has not only caused a disease in the salmon population but also have brought along with it environmental, cultural, economic and tourism problems. Our goal is to reach out to our community to rise awareness about this important topic. What I will do is to learn more about the topic so I can raise awareness in my country.

In our research, we have found that the salmon rates had been dramatically decreased due to climate change and diseases such as carcinogenic tumours in their bodies have been present. Droughts and floods are the main factors affecting the salmon life cycle. Also, rainfall has been present in time when it should be snowing, this blows out eggs and habitats for salmon because the water is moving fast and the sediment is lifted up and gets into their system. Also, water temperature has been increased and this is a major problem. Even though it could be one degree higher it is a life or death situation for the salmon. Since these irregularities in the environment had been ongoing, the salmon rates has changed notability and dramatically since three to four years ago. Climate change has affected the patterns of the salmon along with other different factors, such as commercial fishing, over-harvesting of baitfish, forestry, competition between hatchery and wild salmon, pollution, agriculture.

This issue indeed affects the economy not only in the Cowichan Valley but on a major scale. The economic part that goes along the reduction of the salmon rates is tourism. Tourism is a big part of the Canadian economy overall, and tourism rates had greatly reduced in the Cowichan Valley since the “run timing of salmon expected to return to their rivers have been greatly obscured with non-typical run timing comparing from even 3-4 years ago”. Obviously, this non-typical run timing has disappointed tourists from all around the world that had made their way up to see this natural and beautiful event, that now has sadly reduced.

Tourists are not the only ones that have had a great disappointment about the salon run. First Nations People had also been affected by this issue, especially their culture. The rich culture of First Nations People is based on this main keystone species. Their food is composed mainly of salmon, but now we see that salmon has been carrying diseases such as cancer. If people are not careful, they can get cancer as well, and indeed this a decrease that has increased in the past years amongst Canadians.

The government should address this issue because it is not only affecting a keystone species but the whole country as well. It has brought with it environmental, cultural, economic and tourism problems and health issues. “If I could change something, I would change people’s perspectives on how important salmon are, and how an average citizen can make a difference. Government processes take years to develop, but with the increasing concern for people that care about the well-being of the environment and the fishery, we can make a different by reaching out. In addition, if we cut commercial quotas back, which would lead to more salmon returning to the rivers too.” Tristian’s opinion, one of our experts. Everyone can make a change.

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1 Comment(s)

Cassie Thorpe
May 29, 2017

I think this is a really awesome topic to be looking at.  Before reading your article I never considered the great importance of the salmon to our environment and population.  There are so many factors contributing to this issue I can see how we need everyones help to start raising the heath of the salmon.  What are somethings the average citizen can do to make a difference on this population?  What steps should the government take.  Should this action be look at through the municipal, provincial, or federal government?  Is this issue of decreasing and unhealthy salmon populations on an issue in the Cowichan Valley or all across Canada?  Overall I think this is a great top/issue to look into.  I look forward to seeing what little steps I can start taking to revitalize the salmon population.