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Legal Listing of Aquatic Species

3.7 Cultus Lake Sockeye Salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka ) Status: Endangered Last Examination by COSEWIC: May 2003

Where the species is found and biology:

Cultus Lake (6.3 km²) is located in south west British Columbia in the eastern Fraser Valley, 112 km upstream from the Strait
of Georgia. Cultus sockeye spawn from late November through December and are the latest population to spawn in the Fraser
watershed. They spawn exclusively in the lake and mature predominantly in their fourth year after two years in freshwater and two years in the ocean. They exhibit a fouryear abundance pattern typified by a strong dominant cycle (2003), a moderate sub-dominant cycle (2002), and two numerically weak cycles (1999 and 2000)

COSEWIC Reason for Designation:

The Cultus population has unique genetic and biological characteristics (migratory delay of adults at the Fraser estuary, protracted lake residency before spawning, exclusive lake spawning, late spawning date, deepwater life of fry). The lack of success with previous attempts to transplant sockeye to Cultus Lake and other lakes suggests that Cultus sockeye are irreplaceable. The Cultus population has collapsed primarily due to overexploitation, including directed and incidental catches in mixed-stock fisheries, at levels above those that can be sustained. An additional key source of impact on spawning adults since 1995 has been very high prespawn mortality associated with unusually early migration into freshwater and with Parvicapsula parasite infestation. There are also ecological impacts to the lake habitat from colonization by Eurasian Watermilfoil, land development, stream channelization, nutrient input, and recreational use. Under present conditions, there is a high probability of extinction of the Cultus sockeye.

Potential Protective Measures and Impacts:

Stakeholders may be impacted from compliance with automatic prohibitions, development, and implementation of a recovery plan, and the identification of critical habitat.

Examples of potential measures to comply with automatic prohibitions and recovery planning objectives may include:

  • Reduced First Nation fishing opportunities for food, social, and ceremonial purposes in most southern B.C. waters when late run Fraser sockeye are present.
  • Non retention of sockeye in recreational fisheries where late run Fraser sockeye are present.
  • Reduced commercial fishing opportunities. Selective fishing opportunities for pink and chum salmon may occur if they do not impact the rebuilding of Cultus sockeye.
  • Vegetation control (removal of Eurasian watermilfoil).
  • Predator control (removal of northern pike minnow).
  • Strategic enhancement, including captive brood stock program.
  • Improvements to the quality, quantity, and protection of riparian vegetation.

These broad ranges of measures have the potential to impact First Nations food, social, and ceremonial fisheries, southern
commercial troll, seine and gillnet fisheries, recreational fisheries, other interest groups, and other industries.

It should be noted that management measures will be developed through the recovery planning process and implemented after further consultation.

3.8 Interior Fraser Coho Salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch) Status: Endangered Last Examination by COSEWIC : May 2002

Where the species is found and biology:

The interior Fraser River watershed includes those coho systems within the Fraser River watershed upstream of the Fraser River canyon. Coho salmon are prevalent within the Thompson River, the largest watershed within the Fraser River system, but their distribution in non-Thompson Fraser systems is not well-known. Coho salmon return to the interior Fraser watershed during fall and spawn during fall and early winter. All fish die after spawning. Interior Fraser coho spend 18 months at sea before returning to freshwater and therefore have a 3-year life cycle.

COSEWIC Reason for Designation:

A nationally significant population that has experienced declines in excess of 60% in number of individuals due to changes in freshwater and marine habitats, and to overexploitation. COSEWIC was concerned that reductions in fishing pressure may be insufficient or not maintained, that marine survivorship may not improve, that habitat loss or deterioration in the watershed continues, and that use of hatcheries threatens recovery. COSEWIC concluded that there is a serious risk of extinction of Interior Fraser Coho.

Potential Protective Measures and Impacts:

  • The following closures, which have been in place since 1998, will be continued:
  • Rolling window closures to fishing by salmon gillnet for First Nations in the Fraser River.
  • No First Nations -- food, social, ceremonial fishing by salmon net and troll in the Strait of Georgia.
  • Rolling window closure in the Fraser River. (Some consideration will be given to short duration directed fisheries on other salmon species).
  • Retention of marked coho, only, in southern B.C. waters starting July 1, except in terminal areas of known coho abundance where retention of unmarked coho will be permitted.
  • Closure of salmon troll and gillnet fisheries off the West Coast of Vancouver Island and Strait of Juan de Fuca during periods and in areas of Interior Fraser coho abundance.
  • Selective seine fisheries only in Strait of Juan de Fuca.
  • Closure of commercial fisheries by salmon net and troll in Strait of Georgia and mouth of the Fraser River commencing September 1.
  • There are currently no planned measures as a result of automatic prohibitions.

Developing and implementing a recovery plan could lead to implementation of additional management measures and the identification and protection of critical habitat.

Examples of potential protective measures may include:

  • Improvements to the quality and quantity of riparian vegetation.
  • Reductions in water withdrawals from key areas.
  • Restoration of nursery watersheds including improvements to the quality and quantity of riparian habitats, stabilizing upslope areas, and ensuring sufficient quantity and quality of water flows are available throughout the freshwater life history phases.
  • Ensuring access to key freshwater habitats.
  • Strategic enhancement.

These broad ranges of measures have the potential to impact First Nations food, social, and ceremonial fisheries, southern
commercial troll, seine and gillnet fisheries, recreational fisheries, other interest groups, and other industries.

It should be noted that management measures will be developed through the recovery planning process and implemented after further consultation.