Tag Archives: Powell Lake Dam

New study shows how industrial development decimated fish populations near Vancouver

Editor’s note: To what extent is modern infrastructure responsible for the crash of fish populations? The book cited below explores how a 3,000 year-old fishery was destroyed when the city of Vancouver came into existence, but this is not a purely urban phenomenon. In a 2016 interview, Cortes Island streamkeeper Cec Robinson described how there is very little gravel left in Cortes Island streams because of early logging practises. This makes it more difficult for salmon to find places to spawn. When Provincial biologist Sean Wong installed a new culvert in Basil Creek, he told Cortes Currents there are 140,000 culverts in BC that are barriers to fish trying to migrate to their spawning grounds. Prior to the erection of the first dam in 1911, Powell River was a major spawning ground for Sockeye Salmon.

By Mina Kerr-Lazenby, North Shore News, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

A new study examining the historical decline of fish populations in Vancouver waters highlights the detrimental impacts urban development has had on the local environment, and way of life for First Nations communities.

The Rise of Vancouver and the Collapse of Forage Fish, published in December by Western Washington University, tracks the decrease in numbers of ocean forage fish like herring, smelt and eulachon between 1885 and 1920.

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Where to find qathet’s Ghost Salmon

qathet Living, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Dam building over the last century destroyed all of qathet’s major salmon runs, and several small ones, too. Just a whisper remains of this region’s once-majestic returns.

Local experts are re-imagining these rivers for the future. For salmon. For ecosystems. And for reconciliation.

Standing on the rocky banks of the Powell River, you can see zero salmon. But 100 years ago, before the mill, you would have seen thousands.

These are the ghost salmon.

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