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Salmon Migrate Past Big Bar Without Assistance

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Big Bar/Lillooet – This time last year, the slide at Big Bar on the Fraser River, had conservationists worried about salmon migrating in that area.

The slide was determined by DFO to have happened between June 21 and 23, 2019. In the Spring, a “wooosh” fish ladder was installed at the slide site as well as blasting to elase the situation.

In a recent DFO website posting dated August 21, 2020, it reads some rather good news for fish stocks: (NOTE – As of September 2020, the Big Bar Landslide Response Information Bulletin will be published on a bi-weekly basis to coincide with the scale of operations onsite. Click the link for more info.)

Most salmon arriving at the Big Bar landslide site moved past the barrier without assistance and are en route to their natal streams. Monitoring data also confirmed that some of the fish that were battling the high water conditions below the slide site in July have now successfully migrated upstream.

As water levels fall to seasonal averages, over 85,000 salmon have moved past the slide site to date. Preliminary data from the last week shows that the majority of new arrivals are sockeye. The rock removal conducted earlier this winter, the construction of a “nature-like” fishway, and other alternative fish passage systems implemented this spring and summer have been effective in assisting fish passage at Big Bar.

With more fish moving past the slide on their own, ‘truck and transport’ operations are temporarily suspended. Meanwhile, the Whooshh Passage Portal™ continues to move lower numbers of salmon.

The majority of fish arriving at Big Bar this week are sockeye, with the occasional chinook still being observed. Fish continue to migrate past the slide site naturally and to date, over 117,000 salmon have been detected via the ARIS SONAR upstream of the slide at Churn Creek. With natural passage being the primary mode of movement past the slide, Whooshh™ operations are slowing down.

As of August 27, the monitoring team has applied approximately 523 radio tags: 292 chinook and 231 sockeye.

Courtesy DFO

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