Letter to Minister of Fisheries and Oceans - Kokish River

This letter is regarding the proposed independent power project on the Kokish river on the northern end of Vancouver Island in British Columbia.

The Steelhead Society of BC is alarmed that the Kokish river, located 15 km east of Port McNeill on northern Vancouver Island, is slated to be de-watered and put into a pipe.
Kwagis Power, owned by Brookfield Renewable Power and the Namgis First Nation, has applied to dam and divert the 11 km river into a 9 km pipe. Water used to produce electricity will be removed from the river near its head water lake and returned just above tide water effectively de-watering the entire river.

The federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) considers the Kokish to be a high-value river with a sensitive fish population.
The Kokish is a fish-rich river. It is home to five species of wild salmon, coastal cutthroat trout, Dolly Varden char and both winter run and the much rarer, summer run steelhead.
The proponents have recently received an environmental certificate and Fisheries and Oceans Canada is about to make their decision sealing the fate of this river.

Summer run steelhead are now only found in three east coast Vancouver island streams. It is Fisheries and Oceans Canada responsibility to protect anadromous salmonids. This project promises to cause harm to fish and fish habitat. No amount of mitigation can replace this rare wild race of summer run steelhead. Indeed the response letter from Fisheries and Oceans Canada to the proponent dated June 30 2011 clearly states that the proposed water flow regime for the period June 16th to October 15th remains a significant concern to DFO.


Please follow this link: http://a100.gov.bc.ca/appsdata/epic/documents/p332/1317251761757_3dc1ab2fb4bda2542418868117dc9ba25f36e96004f84d9407bc22256509ee64.pdf
“At the August 24th, 2011 Fisheries Technical Working Group meeting, Kwagis Power presented a revised fish and fish habitat mitigation strategy for the Kokish River hydro project. Following a review of this information, it remains DFO's position that the proposed Kwagis Power revised fish and fish habitat mitigation strategy represents an unacceptable risk to fish and fish habitat in the Kokish River. As such, DFO's position regarding instream flow releases for the Kokish River hydro project remains consistent with the information provided in the June 30th, 2011 letter to Brookfield Power’’

For this reason alone, SSBC finds it unacceptable to allow this project to move forward. Furthermore in response to the proponent recently receiving the environmental certificate, there have been a number of area user groups that have expressed their concern over this proposed development via full page advertisements both in the Vancouver Sun and Province.
There is more information regarding this here: http://savethekokish.ca/

There is a historyof non compliance of operational terms as set out by the government by operators of various run of the river projects in B.C. For example, the Ashlu project near Squamish, B.C. has a history of water ramping issues that have resulted in fish stranding and significant mortality.

It is our hope that you carefully review the facts as presented by DFO biologists tasked to review this project and allow them to fulfill their mandate of protecting salmon and increasingly rare summer run steelhead from the unacceptable risk to these fish and their habitat from this project.

Yours truly,
Brian Braidwood, President, Steelhead Society of BC
Ralf Kroning, Vice President, Steelhead Society of BC

Kokish-Ashfield.pdf230.23 KB