This research project focuses on the critical issue of declining Pacific salmon populations in the Pacific Northwest, emphasizing the early marine life phase as a significant factor in this decline. The project was carried out by Dr. Scott Hinch and researchers at UBC’s Pacific Salmon Ecology and Conservation Laboratory and the Department of Forest and Conservation Science to help us better understand juvenile salmon migration through Burrard Inlet.
By using cutting-edge acoustic telemetry technology, the study tracked hatchery-reared coho smolts released into Port Moody Arm, Burrard Inlet, an area where early migration survival has been suspected to be low. Unlike many previous studies, this research investigates coho smolts released directly into a marine environment, providing unique insights into their migratory behavior and fate during this crucial life stage.
The project’s objectives included identifying migration routes, estimating smolt survival, assessing travel rates and behavior, and evaluating tag retention and potential tagging effects on smolt survival. The project will provide recommendations for potential alterations to hatchery release practices to enhance marine smolt survival, and contribute to their conservation.
The 2022 Mossom Creek Hatchery Coho Salmon Smolt Tracking Study involved researchers from UBC under the direction of Dr. Scott Hinch:
Pacific Salmon Ecology and Conservation Laboratory
Department of Forest and Conservation Sciences
University of British Columbia
Volunteers and Support:
Numerous volunteers made this project possible. Andrew Lotto (UBC) assisted with study design, receiver deployment and maintenance, and smolt tagging. Stephen Johnston and Stephanie Lingard (UBC) assisted with study design and lead the smolt tagging. From the Mossom Creek Hatchery, we thank the following for helping in releasing the smolts: Vicki Guzikowski, Aniela Guzikowski, Ruth Foster, Howard Davies, Paul Steeves, Neil Laffra, and Jennifer Madoc-Jones. We thank Ruth Foster, Rod MacVicar, and Kevin Ryan who helped with fund raising. Neil Laffra was responsible for laboratory smolt rearing. Kamil Polonski Szlachta and Serena Moore assisted with receiver deployments/recovery and smolt tagging, and Rod MacVicar, Kevin Ryan, and OJ Frisch helped with receiver deployments and recovery. Brian Smith and Brendan Zoehner (Fisheries and Oceans Canada) provided access to a boat for receiver deployments and retrieval. Special thanks to Aswea Porter (Kintama Research) for examining the Salish Sea telemetry receiver database and for providing telemetry data from it.
Funding for the study was provided by a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada Discovery Grant to SGH, the Pacific Salmon Foundation, the Port of Vancouver, Seaspan, and the Mossom Creek Hatchery and Education Centre.