Lil’wat prepare for Sockeye salmon count

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Salmon carving by Jonathan Joe

Towards the end of August, Sockeye salmon begin their return from the ocean to the Birkenhead River.

The Lil’wat Nation Fisheries program is a large-scale salmon stock assessment program that involves counting the returning salmon – the unique Birkenhead River Spring salmon, the sockeye, and the Coho.

Here, Fisheries and Environmental Manager, Lhpatq (Maxine Joseph-Bruce) shares the July Fisheries Report, as incorporated into the Lil’wat Nation’s Land and Resources Department newsletter.


by MAXINE JOSEPH-BRUCE – Fisheries and Environmental Manager

Ama swa takem swat. Entsas Lhpatq. Lheltsamecwkan

Good day Everyone, my ancestral name is Lhpatq. I am from this land.
As Fisheries & Environment Manager, I’m so thankful that the Land and Resources Department takes the time to produce a newsletter. I feel that the newsletter provides a good opportunity to share with you what we are doing in the Líl̓wat Fisheries & Environment department.

Kukwstumckacw Richenda for your time and efforts for coordinating this.

Fisheries Surveys:

The Líl̓wat Nation Fisheries program is a large-scale salmon stock assessment program that involves counting the returning salmon. One way we conduct the salmon surveys is to walk the banks of the rivers and streams.

Another way we survey the returning salmon, which is specific to the Spring Salmon, is to conduct a survey we call Creel Survey. From April 1 to June 30, the Líl̓wat Fisheries conducts Birkenhead River Spring Salmon Survey (Chinook Creel Survey). The Creel survey is essentially a process that involves interviews with fishers; we ask fishers where they were fishing, how many fish did they catch and if we can collect a biological sample from their catch. This information helps us learn what the effort is, how much fish were caught and how many are likely to make it to the spawning grounds.

As you may or may not know, the Birkenhead River Spring Salmon are distinct to the river. It is concerning that the Birkenhead River Spring Salmon continue to return in low numbers.

What steps can we take as Líl̓wat to change this?

Regarding the Sockeye Salmon returns, nearing the end of August, we will begin counting the Sockeye salmon. As in previous years, a fence/weir is installed into the Birkenhead River and a narrow opening in the middle of the river that guides the Sockeye salmon to swim by the underwater camera. The underwater camera is very helpful especially when we experience high-water events.

Once early fall comes around, we’ll begin counting the returning Coho Salmon, we count the returning Coho Salmon a couple of ways, such as through the riverbank walks as well as by way of an underwater camera. By using the underwater camera, we can still count if the river is high or murky.


Environment Monitoring Surveys:

The environmental work we do is to conduct environmental monitoring when companies are working in and about a stream. The Environment Monitoring technicians are on-site to collect water quality samples as way to determine if the water is being impacted and so to ensure fish or other aquatic life are not being harmed from the river disturbance.

Also, we have the Líl̓wat Environment Monitoring technicians work on projects such as to address flood mitigation, work with industry on construction projects and on projects like the Grizzly Bear hair snag surveys.

In closing, thanks very much for taking the time to read about what Lil’wat Fisheries & Environment program is doing. Should you have any questions or comments for us, please contact Maxine Bruce at 604- 894-6115 ext 2465 or email Kukwstumckalap, Nilh ti

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