Extreme Heat has Serious Repercussions for Pacific Salmon

By Emmie Page

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The heat dome in June, followed by the August heat wave, may have caused serious repercussions for our already struggling Pacific salmon populations. Salmon are already at risk due to a combination of factors, including increasing wildfires, habitat loss, logging and other climate disasters. The recent heat is only exacerbating their vulnerability.

With hotter and drier summers, we are seeing snow melt occurring earlier. This results in summer stream levels declining, making migration difficult with low water levels and drastically increasing temperatures. As we look forward to the upcoming spawning season, the survival and spawning of salmon is dependent on fish being able to migrate upstream. The recent temperatures may be detrimental to the success of this season’s spawn.

"Salmon are a very vulnerable species. They're vulnerable to many things like fishing, deforestation, development on shorelines and heat isn't making things any easier for them. Hotter and drier summers are causing snow melt a lot earlier which decreases water levels in streams and makes it even more difficult for fish to make it to spawning grounds."

— Emmie Page, Marine Campaigner at Pacific Wild

Right now we need to talk to our local politicians and representatives to encourage DFO (Fisheries and Oceans Canada) to establish more funds towards research and monitoring. We don’t know how the stocks are faring in more remote regions.

We can protect salmon by being mindful when you go out swimming or fishing in rivers that these are salmon habitats. Avoiding high spawning areas and fishing salmon this year will help protect them during this already difficult summer.

You can vote with your dollar. Avoid shopping from large supermarkets instead look for more artisanal fish shops or individuals to buy your salmon from. Or even better, hold off from eating salmon for a few years until the population can regain some strengths.

Listen to Emmie Page’s CBC Radio interview from July 30th regarding the impacts of climate change on wild salmon populations.