Sockeye Salmon are native to the waters of Okanagan Lake. (Contributed)

Sockeye salmon return to Okanagan Lake for first time in decades

Restoration of fish ladder damaged more than 50 years ago enables return

For the first time in half a century, spawning sockeye salmon will return to Okanagan Lake.

Last month, the Okanagan Nation Alliance (ONA) and Fisheries and Oceans Canada restored a fish ladder that had been inoperable for 50 years after the Penticton dam was built.

Historically, sockeye salmon were native to the Okanagan Lake but disappeared due to European intervention.

READ MORE: Big White receives 18 cm of snow

Construction of dams, channelization, water management practices and other development have all contributed to the depletion and near extinction of fish stocks within the Okanagan River basin.

“In the entire Columbian system, the Okanagan River is the only river left that spawns sockeye and that’s monumental when you think about it,” said Lee McFayden, member of the Okanagan River Restoration Initiative and the Okanagan Similkameen Conservation Alliance (OSCA).

“This river is prime for keeping sockeye alive in the Columbia system. If we lose them it’s devastating.

“The fish have an inherent right to space and apart from that they are very important to First Nations culture.”

McFayden added that many species such as bears and eagles eat sockeye as a primary food source and that losing the sockeye would affect the health of other wildlife.

In an effort to help the sockeye migrate, First Nations and conservation groups have also built spawning beds along the Okanagan River using the right gravel to mimic spawning grounds.

Small stocks have also been released into creeks that filter into Okanagan River and water flows have been adjusted at downstream dams to allow sockeye safe passage.

McFayden said upwards of 30,000 sockeyes will find their way into the Okanagan Lake, which is considered a low return, but she is optimistic next season will have more.

READ MORE: Annual SunRype Okanagan Marathon celebrates 25 years


@Niftymittens14
daniel.taylor@kelownacapnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Interpretive salmon classes at Kingfisher Creek get financial aid

Funds from the Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program will help raise Shuswap River salmon awareness

Salmon Arm projects keep rolling thanks to taxpayers’ early payments

‘Speed hump’ to go on Okanagan Avenue adjacent to Fletcher Park

Sicamous arena upgrade project grows, funding approval needed

An additional $100,000 needed to complete expanded project

Sicamous asks people to use face masks, not police others

Face masks recommended for any indoor public place where physical distancing isn’t possible

‘Don’t kill my mom’: Ryan Reynolds calls on young British Columbians to be COVID-smart

‘Deadpool’ celebrity responds to premier’s call for social influence support

Unofficial holidays: here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Aug. 16 to 22

World Photography Day, Black Cat Appreciation Day and Rum Day all coming up this week

Public to weigh in on designs for future of Lake Country waterfront

District is seeking public feedback on the designs for the stretch of waterfront

Illegal dumping, yelling at staff: problems at North Okanagan waste facility

Regional district says security cameras have been installed at the Silver Star Transfer Station

Captain Horvat’s OT marker lifts Canucks to 4-3 win over Blues

Vancouver takes 2-0 lead in best-of-7 NHL playoff series with St. Louis

Vernon pedestrian struck dies from injuries

Emergency responders are on scene on Main Street near the CIBC, traffic affected

UPDATE: Fire in Lake Country a “smoke chase”

A water bomber reportedly took off from Penticton and is on the way to Lake Country

Kelowna man convicted of not paying taxes after turbulent trial

Man claims he doesn’t meet the definition of a ‘person’ under the federal Income Tax Act

Accused in Kelowna’s 2018 Canada Day killing granted bail more than 1.5 years later

Esa Carriere was stabbed to death during the Canada Day fireworks in downtown Kelowna in 2018

Most Read