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Sockeye found in Allouette

5197 Views 28 Replies 16 Participants Last post by  Chrome Assassin
Here is an article that was in the local paper. They found sockeye all the way up by the dam. wow.

Sockeye DNA tested in 'Jurassic' scenario
Danna Johnson, The Times
Published: Tuesday, August 21, 2007
The Fraser River sockeye run has been labeled a disaster.

But while the fish are not showing up on the front door of the community, they are knocking on its backdoor, a place they haven't been seen for 80 years.

Last week sockeye found their way up the Alouette River, sparking Alouette River Management Society spokesman Geoff Clayton to boast a "Jurassic park" scenario is playing out in the community's backyard.

On Friday, ARMS along with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, BC Hydro, the Pacific Salmon Council and the District of Maple Ridge are preparing to hear conclusively that sockeye have returned to the Alouette.

DNA samples were taken from the fish that turned up last week, and those samples will prove, once and for all, that there was at one time a healthy salmon run in the river, and that the run can be established once more.

During the week of Aug. 13, sockeye were found in the holding pens at the Allco Fish Hatchery. Later, BC Hydro employees at the base of the dam found about 18 dead sockeye. The fish, according to Clayton, had tried unsuccessfully to reach the reservoir through the low-level outlet flow.

"They were coming up to the fence and jumping over," Clayton said, adding that the fish are skinny enough to have attempted to wiggle through. Those that jumped through the low-level outlet flow "beached themselves with their noses up against the dam," he said.

"These fish are bright, they're not mature, and it looks like they were prepared to go up into the reservoir and not spawn until October," he said.

Clayton has long suspected there was the potential for sockeye to exist in the Alouette and Coquitlam Rivers.

In spring 2005 ARMS, along with the Katzie First Nation, released 10,000 salmon fry into Alouette Lake and convinced BC Hydro to release a constant stream of water over the dam's spillway, hopefully giving the lake-spawning kokanee a chance to get from the lake to the ocean.

Clayton is convinced, though the DNA has yet to prove it, that those kokanee, now sockeye, have returned.

The returning fish are, without a doubt, sockeye, Clayton said. The only information that is not available is whether or not those sockeye have the same genetic markers as the lake-dwelling kokanee.

But Clayton, though he's waiting to make an official announcement, is undeniably optimistic.

Sure, these fish could be strays from the Fraser run, Clayton supposed, but since the Fraser runs have been low ever since the flow was increased in the Alouette Rive in 1996, he wonders why those strays would show up now.

"Sometimes when you have huge runs you have strays," he said.

And the scientists who have looked at the fish note that the timing is right, and they appear to be the right age for the 2005 returns.

"It's weird that they come back now when the other runs are in such a bad way," acknowledged Katzie First Nation Chief Diane Bailey, who called the news "exciting."

"I thought this was never going to happen. It's super," Bailey said, adding she had doubts.

Indeed, Clayton said, there were many doubts along the way.

Back in December Clayton bemoaned BC Hydro's lack of a framework to reestablish a sockeye run in the Alouette.

These days, however, his voice, along with the voice of other advocates, is being heard because the fish have returned, as Clayton suspected they would.

And should those DNA results come back positively identifying a unique Alouette River sockeye, Clayton said the implications are massive.

The Coquitlam River, he explained, is likely also a potential run.

"The headwaters of Coquitlam was damned in 1914," he said, and that system is similar to the Alouette in many ways.

"There must have been huge runs up there," he said.

With the Fraser heating up and the sockeye runs suffering as a result, Clayton said reestablishing runs in other Lower Mainland rivers is more important than ever.

"The Coquitlam and the Alouette are just a turn around the corner from the Gulf of Georgia, and (the salmon) are home.

"These Lower Mainland rivers that used to have sockeye may be the only thing we can do to help the Fraser."

The idea that the fish could be coming back, Bailey said, "makes you see a light there. Makes you see that there are some things that are OK, that not all the things that are happening are dismal."

Until the fish are scientifically proven to have originated from the Alouette, Clayton said they would not be allowed to return to the reservoir. Once the DNA results return, should it prove conclusively the fish are sockanee, a plan will be put in place to allow the fish to cross over the dam. This year, Clayton said, ARMS released between 70,000 and 90,000 fry over the dam, and if those fish return, 2009 could see "thousands" of sockeye make their way up the river.

If that occurs, he said, volunteers would "trap and truck" the fish in the river and deliver them into the reservoir manually.
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Wow! Thanks for the read...

That's really interesting news, and just shows that Damns and Hydroelectric power are nothing but bad for the rivers. I really hope the DNA of these fish match that of those that were realeased a couple years ago. It would be interesting to see sockeye return to the Alouette. Thanks again.

Fascinating read, just imagine bright fresh socks moving thru our local rivers again, cool. Maybe we could get those summer-run steelies back to these systems as well.
Jack Straw said:
Fascinating read, just imagine bright fresh socks moving thru our local rivers again, cool. Maybe we could get those summer-run steelies back to these systems as well.
Sounds good to meeeeee :happy:

If this ever plays out, it would be a HUGE boost to those struggling systems.
The amount of nutrients a run of sox would produce could jump start the Coho and steelhead runs at a time of great need.
Lets see what happens though.

Coquitlam translates roughly into "little red salmon" or something such as that.
Between Pitt, Stave,Coquitlam, Alouette, Harrison(birkenhead, big silver,lilloet), Chilliwack, Cultus, we are talking about historical Sockeye numbers in the Millions in the Lower mainland alone.
Very interesting for sure...please keep us posted Flyguy!
Will keep you posted. I must say that arms has been doing an amazing job on the Allouette over the years. Not just in the river but also in the lake. The had gotten hydro to increase the nutrient content in the lake which increased the numbers of fish in the lake. It also had an effect on the river as those nutrients spilled into the river threw the spill way of the dam. This helped increase the returns of coho, stealhead and chum. The chum have returned in ther biggest numbers as anyone that lives near the river can smell in the fall. I hope that Arms will keep up the great fight that they are starting to win.
your right bent rod it does translate to that or something similar. i have seen pics from times BEFORE the gravel pits went in and you could almost walk across the river ontheir backs and not even get your feet wet. the river was RED with sox.
flyguy said:
Here is an article that was in the local paper. They found sockeye all the way up by the dam. wow.

Sockeye DNA tested in 'Jurassic' scenario
A great story! As quoted in the orginal movie Jurassic Park: "Nature will always find a way". With a little help, lets hope this will be the case. Thanks for sharing.

Finder :cheers:
I read today that they will have the DNA results in tomorrow. Arms has set up a meeting with DFO, the ministry of enviroment, Katzie and hydro for Friday in case the DNA results are positive so that they can put a plan in place as soon as possible to get these fish in the lake. They have already put a screen over the low water out flow pipe at the dam and have fixed up the fence at alco hatchery so that the fish can not jump over it.
I think, in my opinion, that even if the DNA doesnt match they should do something to promote the return of sockeye to the Alouette.
now lets hope the darn bass don't eat em up.
Big mistake putting things like that in the paper and online, I was on the allo yesterday and ran into 5 goofs actually targetting sockeye in the lower river.....basicly no chance in getting one but I still had fun giving them some kind words
heard on the news today that the dna did match the lake side kok's
Fishaholic said:
heard on the news today that the dna did match the lake side kok's
Wow. That's incredible, after all these years the run could still be brought back...great news. I wonder if this Allouette run has any special traits like their Upper Pitt cousins?
Fishaholic said:
heard on the news today that the dna did match the lake side kok's
I herd the same today. Sounds like good news. I guess they will now release those fish into the lake.
That's great news!

I grew up on the main flow. The old timer next door, who was a comercial fisherman from way back, said the same thing as Wagon Master. "You could walk accross the river on their backs!" He was pissed that Hydro didn't build a fish ladder wile they were building the dam. Maybe they should get on it!

Anyone know what strain they are planning to release?

:beerchug:Cheers to the ARMS,

Here is the latest from our local paper.

DNA tests confirm sockeye are Alouette residents

Simone Ponne/THE NEWS Alouette sockeye was released Friday back into reservoir.
By Phil Melnychuk
Staff Reporter

Aug 25 2007

The years of cautious speculation are behind them.

DNA tests and scale sampling have both confirmed, the 28 sockeye salmon that returned to the Alouette River last week are genetically identical to their landlocked cousins in the Alouette reservoir.

“It was a perfect match,” said Geoff Clayton with ARMS.

“So they are the Alouette Lake sockeye,” added Jenny Ljunggren also with ARMS.

“We are just now coming to grips with it because before, it was caution, caution, caution," Clayton added.

"Now we don’t have to be cautious and that’s pretty exciting."

The fish are the remnants of the 8,000 or so that escaped into the river in 2005 during a temporary opening of the dam’s gate.

Most of the 28 that returned died smashing into the rocks at the base of the dam and trying to get over the dam but six were caught in the holding pens at Allco hatchery and are still alive.

They were released Friday into the reservoir.

Five of the six were fitted with radio tags so researchers could see if they would spawn in the lake’s gravel beds or in the streams.

ARMS had long planned restarting a sockeye run in the Alouette and done several experiments toward proving its feasibility.

But the intent had always been to use an external donor species, most likely Pitt River sockeye.

While sockeye or kokanee stocks had increased in the lake thanks to a fertilization program intended to benefit local anglers, it had been assumed the sockeye had become kokanee, landlocked sockeye, no longer capable of surviving in salt water.

“We were told that seawater would literally be a poison,” Clayton said.

It’s just like when a human becomes institutionalized -- as if they worked for Fisheries and Oceans Canada for a long time, joked Clayton.

“You can see we’re feeling a little cheeky.”

The sockeye showed everyone, however.

They escaped the reservoir during a brief opening of the gate in 2005. After their ancestors spent 80 years in fresh water, they swam to the Pacific Ocean and returned to continue the cycle.

“This is why the story is so exciting because in science, this wasn’t projected to happen.”

It’s a scientific first, noted Ljunggren to have a run reestablished 80 years after it vanished as a result of the construction of B.C. Hydro’s Alouette dam in 1926.

Even a Seattle radio station called about the story.

As the run builds, the need for a fishway around the dam will become more apparent. Clayton said that will be up to B.C. Hydro.

“We’re not looking for B.C. Hydro to start a fishway today or tomorrow,” he said.

“Construction is up to them to address the return of those runs for the First Nations.”

The development could have implications for runs in other lakes blocked by hydro dams.

Since 2005, more sockeye have been released from the reservoir. Next year’s run should be larger. Eventually, in 20 years, the river could see a run of 60,000 sockeye.

Early this week, scientists were pretty certain it was the Alouette sockeye who were in the river.

That was based on results from scale samples on 17 fish which enabled biologists to determine the fish had left freshwater in 2005. Growth patterns also were unlike any in the lower Fraser, said Steve Latham, sockeye stock identification biologist with the Pacific Salmon Commission.

The testing was done by Department of Fisheries and Oceans Pacific biological station in Nanaimo. The salmon commission will pay for the testing.

"We nailed it on Monday basically and we got DNA to confirm it."

He pointed out Maple Ridge resident Julie Sellars actually did the scale sampling.

Because the fish already had started rotting, initial genetic sampling only was possible on 12 of the fish.

That testing showed that returning adult sockeye, the smolts which left the reservoir in 2005 and the sockeye still in the reservoir were "genetically indistinguishable."

They are however distinct from other Fraser River sockeye, Latham pointed out.
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Note in the middle of the release above: up to them to address the return of this run for "First Nations". What is this comment, sorry I do not understand.

Would be excellent to restore a run that vanished decades ago. Thanks. Salt.
This could really open a whole can of worms for all the hydro dams and really improve the sockeye runs if the rivers are kept closed to sockeye fishing untill good runs are established. Interesting to see that even after 80 years they still survive the salt.
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