Skeena River, salmon sign. (Jackie Lieuwen photo)

Prince Rupert Port Authority announces $161K and first projects in new Skeena River salmon program

Gitanyow, Gitxsan and Lax Kw’alaams projects among recipients

The Prince Rupert Port Authority (PRPA) is investing more than $161,372 in five salmon enhancement and sustainability projects. The projects are the first five under PRPA’s new Skeena River Salmon Enhancement Program announced earlier this year. PRPA dedicated $1 million from their Community Investment Fund to partner with North Coast organizations that help maintain and rehabilitate critical habitat in the river.

“The Prince Rupert Port Authority recognizes that a healthy salmon population is vital to not only the community of Prince Rupert, but to the entire Northwest region,” stated Shaun Stevenson, president and CEO of PRPA.

1. Skeena River Estuary Dissolved Organic Carbon Study: The Skeena Fisheries Commission, Indigenous organization that focuses on fisheries management, science and conservation in the Skeena Watershed, received $33,425 from PRPA for a three year project.The project will be establishing a detailed monitoring and sampling program for dissolved organic carbon and organic matter in the Skeena River estuary.

Organic matter plays an important role in food web function and are directly relevant to salmon health, productivity, sustainability and habitat condition.

2. Gitanyow Lake Sockeye Salmon Assessment: PRPA contributed another $25,500 to the Skeena Fisheries Commission to conduct a year-round the study of the biological, chemical, physical and geological characteristics of inland waters — a limnological survey — of Gitanyow Lake to identify factors that may be limiting Kitwanga sockeye salmon.

3. Kitwanga River Chum Salmon Enhancement Study: Gitanyow Fisheries Authority received $12,000 to conduct a feasibility study to address declining Kitwanga chum stocks in the Gitanyow River. They will also evaluate possible outcomes to enhance salmon stock, including the feasibility of a hatchery.

The Gitanyow Fisheries Authority provides fisheries, wildlife and overall environmental expertise and services for the Gitanyow people.

4. Kispiox River Watersheds Temperature Monitoring Initiative

Gitxsan Watershed Authorities received $22,960 for a project dedicated to understanding areas of thermal stress and refugia in key Skeena Salmon streams in the Kispiox River. The goal is enhancing current water quality and quantity research to inform fisheries management planning aimed at protecting fish during times of environmental stress.

The Gitxsan Watershed Authorities’ mandate is to oversee and steward fisheries and other natural resource issues on the Gitxsan territories.

5. Lower Skeena River Pound Net Feasibility Study: PRPA contributed $67,487 to Lax Kw’alaams Fisheries Stewardship Program, initiated to conduct scientific research and monitor the condition and use of marine resources within Lax Kw’alaams.

The feasibility study is part of a longer term proposal aimed at the installation and operation of a selective fishing tool that will provide further research opportunities related to stock identification and salmon run information in the Lower Skeena River.

“We take our commitment to our communities and our environment seriously, and it is our privilege to partner with organizations and to contribute dedicated resources to the betterment of the Skeena River and its salmon populations. Our organization wants to be part of a local solution to address some of the critical challenges that are facing Skeena salmon,” stated Stevenson.

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