Halting construction of the Trans Mountain pipeline at a crossing of the Hope River, BC, would only have increased the risk to salmon later on, as they arrive in greater numbers in late August and into September, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) said. , for its acronym in English). Canadian National Observer.
Last week, the environmental group Protect the Planet raised the alarm after salmon deaths were documented near a work site on the Coquihalla River and urged the DFO to intervene and halt construction. Four BC NDP MPs also urged the federal government to take action to protect salmon.
DFO granted Trans Mountain a permit for the month of August to perform in-stream construction on the existing pipeline and pipeline expansion.
As of Friday, “major work” on the site has been completed, and Trans Mountain said remaining work on the stream, such as backfilling the ditch and restoring the creek bed and banks, should be ready by the end of the season. last week. more salmon will start arriving in late August and early September, said Dan Bate, manager of strategic communications for DFO. Canadian National Observer in an emailed statement.
“DFO will be on site and will continue to monitor regulatory compliance and assess the situation to ensure fish and fish habitat are protected,” the statement read. He also added that the reported dead salmon are likely to be sockeye salmon that died before spawning because the fish expended too much energy while waiting for the high flows of the Fraser River to subside.
Kyle Wilson, an applied quantitative biologist with the Central Coast Indigenous Resources Alliance, said DFO’s response is “pretty weak.”
“It sounds a bit off the mark, blaming pre-spawning mortality on something you have a pretty clear smoke pipe on,” Wilson said. DFO has a tough job with a lot of tough decisions, he added.
“This reflects the kind of economic trade-offs against ecological and conservation considerations, and they’ve made their choices quite clear.”
Although August is about the only time digging into the stream bed doesn’t destroy fish eggs, there are other factors to consider, said Will Atlas, a salmon watershed scientist at the wild salmon center.
The removal of riparian vegetation in the floodplain and across large sections of the river poses a problem for the health of the river and the species that depend on it, Atlas said. In the winter, water levels will rise and sediment previously rooted by vegetation will flow downstream, suffocating the eggs, he said.
Halting construction of the Trans Mountain pipeline at a crossing of the Hope River, BC, would have only increased the risk to salmon later on, as they arrive in greater numbers in late August and into September, @FishOceansCAN said after pressure to intervene. .
During this time of year, summer rainbow trout make their way upstream and need to eat on the go, unlike salmon. Many of the insects they feed on do well in really clean water, and are often very sensitive to heavy sediment runoff from construction sites like this one, Wilson explained. Sedimentation also contributes to warming the water to the detriment of temperature-sensitive salmon and trout.
With only “a few hundred fish,” the summer rainbow trout is effectively an endangered species, although it is not listed as such because the population has not been assessed, Atlas added.
Coastal GasLink has been fined several times for sediments that flow into streams, lakes, and fish-bearing wetlands.
“Engineered industrial rivers are not healthy, naturally functioning rivers,” Atlas said. “Running a pipeline through that basin is essentially like just making 1,000 more cuts on those fish that are barely holding on.”
Natasha Bulowski / Local Journalism Initiative / Canadian National Observer