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Juvenile salmon usage of the Skeena River estuary.

Carr-Harris C, Gottesfeld AS, Moore JW - PLoS ONE (2015)

Bottom Line: We captured six species of juvenile anadromous salmonids throughout the estuary in both years, and found that areas proposed for development support some of the highest abundances of some species of salmon.These fish support extensive commercial, recreational, and First Nations fisheries throughout the Skeena River and beyond.Our results demonstrate that estuary habitats integrate species and population diversity of salmon, and that if proposed development negatively affects the salmon populations that use the estuary, then numerous fisheries would also be negatively affected.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Skeena Fisheries Commission, 3135 Barnes Crescent, Kispiox, British Columbia, Canada; Earth to Ocean Research Group, Simon Fraser University, 8888 University Drive, Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada.

ABSTRACT
Migratory salmon transit estuary habitats on their way out to the ocean but this phase of their life cycle is more poorly understood than other phases. The estuaries of large river systems in particular may support many populations and several species of salmon that originate from throughout the upstream river. The Skeena River of British Columbia, Canada, is a large river system with high salmon population- and species-level diversity. The estuary of the Skeena River is under pressure from industrial development, with two gas liquefaction terminals and a potash loading facility in various stages of environmental review processes, providing motivation for understanding the usage of the estuary by juvenile salmon. We conducted a juvenile salmonid sampling program throughout the Skeena River estuary in 2007 and 2013 to investigate the spatial and temporal distribution of different species and populations of salmon. We captured six species of juvenile anadromous salmonids throughout the estuary in both years, and found that areas proposed for development support some of the highest abundances of some species of salmon. Specifically, the highest abundances of sockeye (both years), Chinook in 2007, and coho salmon in 2013 were captured in areas proposed for development. For example, juvenile sockeye salmon were 2-8 times more abundant in the proposed development areas. Genetic stock assignment demonstrated that the Chinook salmon and most of the sockeye salmon that were captured originated from throughout the Skeena watershed, while some sockeye salmon came from the Nass, Stikine, Southeast Alaska, and coastal systems on the northern and central coasts of British Columbia. These fish support extensive commercial, recreational, and First Nations fisheries throughout the Skeena River and beyond. Our results demonstrate that estuary habitats integrate species and population diversity of salmon, and that if proposed development negatively affects the salmon populations that use the estuary, then numerous fisheries would also be negatively affected.

No MeSH data available.


Beach seine sampling stations within the IN region indicated in Fig. 1.Existing developments are shown in dark grey, while proposed development areas are diagonally shaded. Beach seine sampling stations are indicated by triangles. Beach seine sub-regions are indicated with open circles, except at Kinahan Islands where there was only one site.
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pone.0118988.g002: Beach seine sampling stations within the IN region indicated in Fig. 1.Existing developments are shown in dark grey, while proposed development areas are diagonally shaded. Beach seine sampling stations are indicated by triangles. Beach seine sub-regions are indicated with open circles, except at Kinahan Islands where there was only one site.

Mentions: There are currently several large-scale industrial development projects pending in the Skeena River estuary, including a bulk potash loading facility and two liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals [44–46] (Figs. 1, 2). The causeway and berth for one of the proposed LNG terminals is situated between Lelu and Kitson Islands on Flora Bank, which represents 50–60% of tidal and subtidal eelgrass habitat in the Skeena estuary. As part of the application process for industrial development, project proponents are required to submit environmental assessments of ecosystem components that could be adversely impacted by the proposed development. Environmental assessment studies conducted by project proponents provide an opportunity to collect information on important ecosystem components such as juvenile salmon and their habitats. However, the scope and time frames of environmental reviews, as well as the number of projects that must complete a federal environmental assessment, have been recently reduced [47]. Previous understanding of estuaries in general [25] and the Skeena River estuary in particular [39,40] suggest that these habitats support juvenile salmon. For example, Flora Banks was previously found to be among the most important early marine habitats for pink salmon from the Skeena watershed, and past proposals for industrial development in the vicinity of Flora Banks were rejected because of concerns about the potential environmental risks to salmon productivity [48]. However, consulting agencies on behalf of the project proponents have submitted environmental assessment applications to the Canadian Environmental Assessment (CEA) Agency for approval of these projects [45,46] without conducting field studies of juvenile salmon. Despite the lack of data from field studies of juvenile salmon, environmental assessment applications have consistently come to the conclusion that proposed projects will have no significant residual negative impacts on salmon populations [49]. At the time of writing, the proposed potash terminal had completed the CEA Agency’s review process under the old legislation and was approved to proceed to the permitting stages and the two LNG terminals entered the environmental assessment process under the new regulations. There is thus a pressing need for scientific data on the usage of the Skeena River estuary by juvenile salmon.


Juvenile salmon usage of the Skeena River estuary.

Carr-Harris C, Gottesfeld AS, Moore JW - PLoS ONE (2015)

Beach seine sampling stations within the IN region indicated in Fig. 1.Existing developments are shown in dark grey, while proposed development areas are diagonally shaded. Beach seine sampling stations are indicated by triangles. Beach seine sub-regions are indicated with open circles, except at Kinahan Islands where there was only one site.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4352006&req=5

pone.0118988.g002: Beach seine sampling stations within the IN region indicated in Fig. 1.Existing developments are shown in dark grey, while proposed development areas are diagonally shaded. Beach seine sampling stations are indicated by triangles. Beach seine sub-regions are indicated with open circles, except at Kinahan Islands where there was only one site.
Mentions: There are currently several large-scale industrial development projects pending in the Skeena River estuary, including a bulk potash loading facility and two liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals [44–46] (Figs. 1, 2). The causeway and berth for one of the proposed LNG terminals is situated between Lelu and Kitson Islands on Flora Bank, which represents 50–60% of tidal and subtidal eelgrass habitat in the Skeena estuary. As part of the application process for industrial development, project proponents are required to submit environmental assessments of ecosystem components that could be adversely impacted by the proposed development. Environmental assessment studies conducted by project proponents provide an opportunity to collect information on important ecosystem components such as juvenile salmon and their habitats. However, the scope and time frames of environmental reviews, as well as the number of projects that must complete a federal environmental assessment, have been recently reduced [47]. Previous understanding of estuaries in general [25] and the Skeena River estuary in particular [39,40] suggest that these habitats support juvenile salmon. For example, Flora Banks was previously found to be among the most important early marine habitats for pink salmon from the Skeena watershed, and past proposals for industrial development in the vicinity of Flora Banks were rejected because of concerns about the potential environmental risks to salmon productivity [48]. However, consulting agencies on behalf of the project proponents have submitted environmental assessment applications to the Canadian Environmental Assessment (CEA) Agency for approval of these projects [45,46] without conducting field studies of juvenile salmon. Despite the lack of data from field studies of juvenile salmon, environmental assessment applications have consistently come to the conclusion that proposed projects will have no significant residual negative impacts on salmon populations [49]. At the time of writing, the proposed potash terminal had completed the CEA Agency’s review process under the old legislation and was approved to proceed to the permitting stages and the two LNG terminals entered the environmental assessment process under the new regulations. There is thus a pressing need for scientific data on the usage of the Skeena River estuary by juvenile salmon.

Bottom Line: We captured six species of juvenile anadromous salmonids throughout the estuary in both years, and found that areas proposed for development support some of the highest abundances of some species of salmon.These fish support extensive commercial, recreational, and First Nations fisheries throughout the Skeena River and beyond.Our results demonstrate that estuary habitats integrate species and population diversity of salmon, and that if proposed development negatively affects the salmon populations that use the estuary, then numerous fisheries would also be negatively affected.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Skeena Fisheries Commission, 3135 Barnes Crescent, Kispiox, British Columbia, Canada; Earth to Ocean Research Group, Simon Fraser University, 8888 University Drive, Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada.

ABSTRACT
Migratory salmon transit estuary habitats on their way out to the ocean but this phase of their life cycle is more poorly understood than other phases. The estuaries of large river systems in particular may support many populations and several species of salmon that originate from throughout the upstream river. The Skeena River of British Columbia, Canada, is a large river system with high salmon population- and species-level diversity. The estuary of the Skeena River is under pressure from industrial development, with two gas liquefaction terminals and a potash loading facility in various stages of environmental review processes, providing motivation for understanding the usage of the estuary by juvenile salmon. We conducted a juvenile salmonid sampling program throughout the Skeena River estuary in 2007 and 2013 to investigate the spatial and temporal distribution of different species and populations of salmon. We captured six species of juvenile anadromous salmonids throughout the estuary in both years, and found that areas proposed for development support some of the highest abundances of some species of salmon. Specifically, the highest abundances of sockeye (both years), Chinook in 2007, and coho salmon in 2013 were captured in areas proposed for development. For example, juvenile sockeye salmon were 2-8 times more abundant in the proposed development areas. Genetic stock assignment demonstrated that the Chinook salmon and most of the sockeye salmon that were captured originated from throughout the Skeena watershed, while some sockeye salmon came from the Nass, Stikine, Southeast Alaska, and coastal systems on the northern and central coasts of British Columbia. These fish support extensive commercial, recreational, and First Nations fisheries throughout the Skeena River and beyond. Our results demonstrate that estuary habitats integrate species and population diversity of salmon, and that if proposed development negatively affects the salmon populations that use the estuary, then numerous fisheries would also be negatively affected.

No MeSH data available.