Salmon invisible migration begins

People gathering at the Babine River Counting Facility to celebrate a Northwest natural wonder.

On Tuesday, May 16, First Nations and their neighbors from across the Skeena Watershed will gather at the Babine River Counting Facility to celebrate one of the natural wonders of the Northwest.

Each Spring, approximately 300 million juvenile salmon make their way from every lake, river and stream in the watershed to the saltwater refuge of the Skeena estuary.

“Our salmon begins their journey and returns to our territory to sustain and provides to the economy of our people. It’s a natural cycle of life that we have depended throughout the generation. We wish and hope the smolts survive the turbulent journey to come back and provide for us,” said Lake Babine Nation Chief Wilf Adam.

The event takes place at the Babine River Fish Fence, where the Lake Babine Nation Fisheries department conducts a scientific program to catch and tag smolts as they leave Babine Lake. There will be hourly boat tours starting at 10 a.m. and a ceremony and free wild salmon barbecue starting at noon.

“It is our inherent right to protect our fish, our ancestors were the holders of the entitlement. We will strive to send our smolts out in hopes they return to feed our people,” said Deputy Chief Bessie West.

The event has been dubbed The Invisible Migration because the millions of tiny smolts are invisible beneath the Skeena’s brown floodwaters.

“We see these muddy rivers flowing past our communities and it’s easy to forget that just below the surface is teaming with baby salmon,” said Lake Babine Nation Fisheries director Donna Macintyre.

“This event is for everyone in the watershed,” said Shannon McPhail, executive director of the Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition. “The miracle of wild salmon ties every one of our communities together. We need to celebrate that more.”

The event at the Babine River is one of two Invisible Migration events being held in 2017, the other one taking at the Skeena Estuary in Prince Rupert.

“We would like to wish the sockeye smolts a safe journey to the ocean where they can live and grow and return to LBN Territory as adults to continue the cycle over again,” said Macintyre.

Registration is required. If you wish to attend, please RSVP to lbnfisheries@gmail.com.

Submitted by Lake Babine Nation Fisheries.