A slide in the Fraser River that could block the salmon run. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO- Department of Fisheries and Oceans)

Time of essence as Fraser River slide blocks spawning salmon, feds say

Slide was discovered at Big Bar, northwest of Kamloops, in June

Federal Fisheries Minister Jonathan Wilkinson says officials are working against the clock as they look for ways to clear a path for salmon that are blocked from spawning areas by a landslide on the Fraser River.

Wilkinson says 90,000 salmon are gathering in waters below the slide area and up to two million sockeye are expected to start arriving in less than two weeks at Big Bar, northwest of Kamloops.

He says time is of the urgency as rock scalers, engineers and blasters try to find a solution after the natural disaster.

He says crews at the slide site are working to move boulders to create a safe route for the fish.

Helicopters are also netting salmon in buckets and moving them above the slide area, and a so-called fish ladder has been constructed to help salmon over the slide area but treacherous river conditions are preventing its installation.

The salmon use the river to head to spawning areas in rivers, streams and creeks throughout central and northern B.C.

READ MORE: Salmon moved to B.C. hatchery as Fraser River landslide work continues

Wilkinson says heavy rains in northern B.C. have caused the river to rise but hot weather forecast for this week could see water levels drop, giving crews a better chance to move rocks and test the ladder.

The slide was discovered in June and has created a five-metre waterfall in a narrow and remote portion of the river that the fish cannot get through.

The Canadian Press

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