Some good news for salmon

There has been a possibly momentous discovery on B.C.'s Seymour River.

After four years of slowly breaking apart a 50,000-cubic-metre rock slide that choked off the river north of Vancouver to spawning fish, volunteers with the Seymour Salmonid Society have spotted the first coho salmon and steelhead trout to traverse the slide on their own.

“We have been working on this for four years so, for the community, this is just great news. It’s fabulous news. I’m handing out cigars like a new father,” said Shaun Hollingsworth, president of the Seymour Salmonid Society, which has led the rescue effort.

Normally, after a summer of rock breaking, the society waits for the spring rains and snowmelt to move the broken boulders down to the channel floor before assessing how much progress has been made, but the fish apparently aren’t waiting.

Hollingsworth will have to leave some champagne bottles corked, however. They still need to make sure that it wasn’t a fluke of some kind, or there is another explanation – like someone catching the fish and releasing them above the slide.

“As far as we know, nobody has done that, but the naysayers need to be proven wrong,” he said.

On Thursday, volunteers put radio telemetry tags on 10 fish below the slide “and sent them on their way.”

“We will have individuals walking up and down the river with antennas tracking those fish, so over the next several months we’ll be able to confirm radio tagged fish can make it up,” he said.

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