Interior Fraser rainbow trout are at risk of extinction, BC fishing groups warn

Fifteen groups, including the BC Wildlife Federation and the Steelhead Society of BC, have written to federal environment and fisheries ministers demanding immediate action for declining interior Fraser steelhead trout stocks.

Content of the article

British Columbia fisheries and conservation groups are warning that a unique species of sea trout is facing a “serious conservation crisis” and must be added to Canada’s Species at Risk Act.

Content of the article

Fifteen groups, including the BC Wildlife Federation and the Steelhead Society of BC, have written to federal environment and fisheries ministers calling for immediate action to reduce interior Fraser steelhead stocks, a variety of rainbow trout.

The species, a member of the salmon family, migrates to the ocean for most of its life, but hatches and spawns in the Thompson and Chilcotin rivers in British Columbia.

The letter, also signed by Eric Taylor, the former chair of the federal Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada, says fish numbers have experienced a “precipitous decline” over the past decade.

In 2018, rainbow trout were rejected for emergency listing under the Species at Risk Act and a second recommendation in 2020 still awaits ministerial review, even though groups say spawning populations of last year reached their lowest levels since records were kept.

Content of the article

The letter urges ministers to act, saying current plans proposed by the Fisheries Act are not designed to restore endangered fish populations and have not halted the decline of rainbow trout .

“The situation (of interior Fraser steelhead trout) is the most serious conservation crisis for any wild marine fish in British Columbia,” the letter reads.

Environment and Climate Change Canada declined to comment on the letter, deferring to the Department of Fisheries. No one from Fisheries and Oceans Canada was immediately available to comment on the claims.

Fewer than 15 fish returned per tributary last fall, which the letter says is far below the numbers that prompted the two previous recommendations for species protection.

It predicts an “imminent threat to survival” if an immediate recovery strategy and action plan is not created for the fish, which the groups describe as “arguably once the strongest groups of rainbow trout revered in British Columbia and beyond.


More news, fewer ads, faster loading times: Get unlimited, lightweight access to the Vancouver Sun, Province, National Post and 13 other Canadian news sites for just $14/month or $140/year. Subscribe now via Vancouver Sun Where Province.

Betty K. Park