Press Releases

Montreal-born actor William Shatner is adding his voice to the call for immediate federal government action to save a collapsing steelhead salmon population in British Columbia’s Fraser River system.



“The time for consultation and studies long past,” William Shatner tells Fisheries Minister Dominic LeBlanc

Shovelnose Creek Habitat Project 2015

Coldwater Habitat Restoration Project


Steelhead Society of BC Coldwater River Steelhead Habitat Enhancement Project
As- Built Summary, February, 2014
A steelhead habitat enhancement project on the Coldwater River sponsored by the Steelhead Society of British Columbia (SSBC) in partnership with DFO and PSF was completed in early 2014. The following is a project summary including an as-built report as well as interim (winter) site photos. The project provides benefit to Steelhead through improvement to streambank habitat in the Coldwater River. A series of robust rock-wood spurs were installed along a severely degraded and rapidly eroding 178 long right bank section of the Coldwater River (see photos). The site is located approximately 28 km from Merritt at the Eaton-Beaton Ranch (GPS location 49° 55.956 N, 120° 55.325 W).
Project planning for the Coldwater project was completed by January, 2013. Rock delivery was completed as scheduled by early February, 2014. Construction of the wood rock spurs was completed by February 20, 2014. The site remains in winter condition under snow cover at this time and are not fully visible. Site performance and development of key site features beneficial to Steelhead will be more evident following spring freshet. In addition, area fencing will be completed after snowmelt and ground thaw have occurred. A review of the project rationale and current site condition is provided below. Following freshet and spring to summer vegetation re-growth this site report will be updated.
2.0 Review of the Project Rationale
The Coldwater River project location was selected because it is located in an area that offers key habitat features important to Steelhead (and other salmonids) including suitable stream grade, beneficial groundwater attributes, relatively valuable up and downstream Steelhead habitat. In addition an extensive, groundwater and river fed off-channel site previously constructed by DFO to enhance juvenile salmonid habitat adjoins the Coldwater River immediately upstream from the restored site. In addition, the site is located on a ranch isolated from high public traffic, set back from Coldwater Road access. A wide river floodplain area exists on the right and left banks from the restoration site. The right bank adjacent to the restored habitat has minimal agricultural use and relatively healthy riparian vegetation and the landowner has agreed to livestock exclusion fencing for riparian area enhancement.
The Coldwater River habitat enhancement site provided an opportunity to combine natural local features with some constructed ones to create year round improvement to
key Steelhead habitat values such as low human traffic, high quality groundwater upwelling combined with controlled off channel stream flow from the Coldwater River to extensive off-channel habitat, suitable gradient and substrate features, relatively healthy up and downstream riparian areas and connectivity to other nearby suitable steelhead spawning and rearing habitats.
3.0 Description of Construction Process
Construction was undertaken in February, 2014 at low flow, prior to spring freshet. In total 58 loads of rock, 24 large wood debris units and 1855 cuttings were utilized in constructing a series of 15 wood rock spurs to stabilize 178 linear meters of streambank and riparian area. The rock supplied was comprised of 0 .3-1.5m boulders with a high proportion of larger rock size in the mix (see photos).
Once the rock was delivered construction began by installing spurs 1-5. Spurs 1-5 were installed relatively close together (averaging 11 m spacing) along the uppermost 43 m of the site, where the curvature in river meander bend was greatest. Spurs 6-15 were installed relatively farther apart (averaging 14 m spacing) along the lowermost 128 m of the site, where the curvature in river meander bend was lessened.
The uppermost spurs (spurs 1-5) were each comprised of approximately 24 m3 of rock and 1-2 large wood debris units with 75 cuttings. The lowermost spurs (spurs 6-15) were each comprised of approximately 32 m3 of rock and 1-2 large wood debris units with 150 cuttings. A setback rock spur with large wood debris was installed at each of the 15 spur locations, keyed into the river bed.
Cuttings were added to the upper depths of the excavation. Gravels and soils were place in the upper bank above high water mark. Winter dormant black cottonwood cuttings as well as various rooted species including alder, rose and snowberry that were salvaged during excavation were planted at the site. A recessed, keyed low profile 7 m rock toe was installed to tie into the existing bank, downstream of Spur 15. Disturbed areas were re-contoured and winter seeded with grass seed on bare exposed ground even though it was still snowing at the time.
4.0 Description of Constructed Features
The right bank stabilization installations have created high complexity river edge which will stabilize the bank from further erosion. The installed structures are expected to scour but remain stable with spring fresher and begin to naturalize rapidly following freshet to offer adult and juvenile habitat preferred by Steelhead. Small scour pools with overhanging vegetation, boulder and wood surface microhabitat are expected to provide cover, hydraulic variability and leaf litter drop as well as shade and improved benthic community structure that will benefit Steelhead.
5.0 Summary
As of February, 2014 the streambank stabilization structures appear to be well installed and functional. Project effectiveness will be more evident following loss of snow cover, and a spring freshet event, after which performance will be re-evaluated and site naturalization features identified. An onsite review and updated photoset will be obtained as site features such as scour pools and riparian vegetation development continue to naturalize and will be reported on a one year post construction site assessment.

Ottawa's move to allow overfishing of salmon draws united condemnation from First Nations, fishermen, and conservationists

 Ottawa’s move to allow overfishing of salmon draws united condemnation 

from First Nations, fishermen, and conservationists


For Immediate Release
April 3, 2014

Vancouver First Nations, recreational fishermen, and conservation groups from the Skeena River watershed are calling on Fisheries Minister Gail Shea to abandon a reckless fishing plan being proposed by the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO). The new plan would significantly increase harvest rates on sockeye salmon, resulting in the overfishing of endangered sockeye populations, and serious impacts to other salmon species caught as “by-catch.”


The changes would nullify the recent (2009 to 2013) commercial harvest plan for Skeena River sockeye salmon, introduced following the 2008 Independent Science Review Panel. The Panel found that harvest rates were too high for many sockeye populations and needed to be reduced. A 2013 scientific analysis released by Pacific Salmon Foundation confirmed this, reporting that several Skeena sockeye populations were in the “Red Zone”—the area of greatest conservation concern—under DFO’s Wild Salmon Policy.


The overfishing would affect the Gitanyow, Lake Babine, and Wet’suwet’en Nations, who all host sockeye populations that lie in the “Red Zone.”


“We have harvested Kitwanga River salmon as food for thousands of years. They feed our elders, our culture, and who we are as a people,” states Chief Glen Williams of the Gitanyow Nation. “We thought we had turned a corner on a century of overfishing in 2008, but now DFO intends to return to the era of much higher commercial harvest rates.”


Chief Wilf Adam of the Lake Babine Nation angrily responds, “Babine River sockeye once numbered over a million, supporting our Food and pre-contact commercial fisheries. Last year less than 40,000 fish spawned. Our people went hungry rather than harvest any for food. And DFO’s response is to increase commercial fishing! How can anyone think this is a good idea?”


“Increasing commercial harvest rates threaten recreational fisheries and the communities who benefit from them,” said Keith Douglas of the North Coast Steelhead Alliance. “The lower harvest rates introduced in 2009 brought some respite to steelhead runs after decades of overharvesting in unselective gillnet fisheries and spread economic benefits throughout the watershed.  It’s not like the sockeye won’t still be caught and processed,” argues Douglas. “Sockeye not caught on the coast are caught in highly selective terminal fisheries that avoid harming both the sockeye populations we are concerned about and recreationally valuable steelhead.”


Greg Knox, Executive Director of the SkeenaWild Conservation Trust, explains, “There are 30 genetically distinct sockeye populations in the Skeena River watershed. The commercial fishery is focused on the two artificially enhanced populations at the expense of the 28 wild ones.” Mr. Knox continues, “DFO argues they only intend to increase harvest rates in years where there are above average sockeye returns. But, large returns are the result of the large numbers of sockeye returning to the two enhancement facilities. It ignores the impact such harvests will have on wild populations important to First Nations and the Skeena ecosystem.”


Other groups on record as opposing Ottawa’s new plans to allow overfishing of at-risk Skeena salmon populations include the BC Federation of Fly Fishers, Watershed Watch Salmon Society, The BC Federation of Drift Fishers, the Steelhead Society of BC, and the Kingfishers Rod and Gun Club.


Skeena First Nations, conservationists, and recreational fishermen contend that DFO’s plan to allow overfishing ignores independent science advice, First Nations’ Constitutional Food and Treaty Rights, and bows to a narrow set of commercial interests,” concludes Walter Joseph, Fisheries Manager for Office of the Wet’suwet’en. 





For additional information please contact:


Wilf Adam, Chief, Lake Babine Nation: 1-250-692-0422

Keith Douglas, North Coast Steelhead Alliance: 1-250-729-7295

Walter Joseph, Fisheries Manager, Office of the Wet’suwet’en: 1-250-847-3996

Greg Knox, Executive Director, SkeenaWild Conservation Trust: 1-250-615-1990

Glen Williams, Chief, Gitanyow Nation: 1-250-635-0223

Casting A Voice

 Casting A Voice

This film examines the value of the Skeena River and its fish, and the steadily growing risks it faces to development and energy transportation proposals. The energy industry is vital to Canada's economic strength, and the Northern Gateway Pipeline project would use parts of the Skeena as a corridor to reach new global markets. This said, there is also immense value in the diverse ecosystems and wilderness that make up the Skeena.

Produced, filmed & edited by Dimitri Gammer


Watch the film here: