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Salmon counts surge in West Vancouver

Spawning salmon numbers are climbing in West Vancouver, thanks in part to the efforts of students working with the West Vancouver…

By Chantal Strand , in Environment Feature story , on October 31, 2014 Tags: , , , ,

Students scope-out a male Chum.
Students count salmon in West Vancouver.

Spawning salmon numbers are climbing in West Vancouver, thanks in part to the efforts of students working with the West Vancouver Streamkeeper Society

Salmon counts were five times higher in 2013 than in 2010, after the District of West Vancouver created a Shoreline Preservation Plan, which has bolstered the society’s efforts.

The high-school volunteers who helped out are proud of their contribution.

“It’s nice seeing how there’s more salmon each day. It’s good to see the salmon are thriving,” said Grade 9 student Fumika Noguchi, as she and four classmates surveyed Brothers Creek above the Park Royal mall in the last week of October.

Students making a difference

Students from West Vancouver Secondary’s environmental protection network have helped society volunteers with the dozens of salmon counts and report summaries undertaken this year.

Volunteers scour riverbanks to count salmon in 16 creeks during peak spawning periods from mid-October to late-December.

Between Oct. 13 to 26 this year, 203 salmon were counted.

“That is an excellent survey this early in the season,” said John Barker, president of the West Vancouver society.

The society works with people from all ages and backgrounds to clean out waterways and support salmon.

Conservation efforts

John Barker (right) talks salmon with volunteers.
John Barker (right) talks salmon with volunteers.

People in West Vancouver have allowed the stream watchers to walk through their yards and survey creek beds and salmon streams.

Residents also co-operate with other agencies, like the West Vancouver Preservation Society, to ensure salmon habitat is preserved.

District study summaries reveal that storms, along with building development and seawall construction, have altered habitats and caused lower salmon counts in the past.

Volunteers typically see the highest flows of salmon populations mid-November, as heavy rainfall raises water levels that increases ease of access for hundreds of spawning salmon.

Improved habitats

The district’s Shoreline Preservation Plan has countered the negative effects on streams by adding boulders and reefs. These encourage other fish to gather, providing additional food sources for the salmon swimming upstream.

That kind of infrastructure has made it easier for students to count salmon, as the fish gather in the pools rich with food.

The district is planning to do even more work to improve estuaries and food supplies for salmon through to 2020, which will provide students with even more opportunities to observe thriving salmon.