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.