Major rock slide in Fraser River sparks fears of blocking migrating salmon

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Rockslide in Fraser River raises salmon concerns
WATCH: A major rockslide in a remote part of the Fraser River is raising concerns for the health of returning salmon. Jordan Armstrong has the details – Jun 26, 2019

A “significant” rock slide on the Fraser River just west of Clinton, B.C. is sparking fears it could affect the journey of migrating salmon.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) said the slide happened Tuesday close to Big Bar Ferry, and department officials have already conducted surveys from the air.

More inspections were set to take place Wednesday, with engineers and habitat specialists trying to determine the extent of the blockage.

WATCH: (Aired May 5) Fishing guides concerned about chinook salmon fishery closure

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Fishing guides concerned about chinook salmon fishery closure

Work with the DFO’s provincial partners and local First Nations would help determine its next steps, it added.

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The department wouldn’t comment further Wednesday.

The area has no cell service or roads, making it difficult to access the slide or gather information.

But aerial pictures make clear intense rapids have formed in the river where the slide occurred, which appears in stark contrast to the calm waters above and below the site.

Sources tell Global News a change in water velocity could spell bad news for the Pacific sockeye salmon who are migrating upstream and could have difficulty navigating the rapids.

Rapids form at the site of a significant rock slide in the Fraser River near Big Bar Creek, B.C. on Wednesday, June 26, 2019. Simon Hergott

Worse yet, those sources say most of the salmon usually spawn above the slide area in August.

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The sources included a professor at a B.C. university who did not want to be named.

Until the extent of the blockage is determined, the slide is adding to growing fears about B.C.’s salmon populations this year.

The DFO announced in April it was taking major actions to stem the decline of most of the river’s chinook salmon stocks, including closing commercial troll fisheries through most of the summer.

A daily limit of one salmon per recreational fisher was also imposed, which will last until the end of December, with an annual limit of 10.

—With files from the Canadian Press

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