Hatcheries & Habitats

 
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Runs of Chum, Coho, Pink and Steelhead salmon survived after completion of the Coquitlam Dam, despite the reduced water flows in the river and destructive logging practices on the valley slopes, to return to the lower Coquitlam River in numbers that were larger than those that are seen today. These runs survived until the early 1950s when a series of circumstances combined to severely deplete their numbers. The large landslide that occurred in 1951, near where the gravel pits are today, deposited large quantities of silt into the river.

The river bed and adjacent side channels, streams and ponds habitats were dredged and bulldozed metres deep during the 1950s and 60s, for about 4 kilometres upstream from Wilson Avenue in Port Coquitlam, to remove or move gravel for flood control. This destroyed the watercourse bottom and bank habitats and destabilized the river bed for additional kilometres upstream to further degrade stream environments in which young salmon could hatch, feed and rear.

In the 1960s and 70s land development , to serve demands of the rapidly growing population, drained, filled and covered much of the low land areas in the watershed and eliminated large areas of salmon rearing habitat that was not immediately adjacent to the river and its larger tributaries. By the late 1970s it was apparent that, in the absence of significant efforts being focused on ensuring their survival, all Coquitlam River salmon stocks were at risk.

The Salmonid Enhancement Program (SEP), introduced by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) in 1977, encouraged the public to provide support and stewardship resources for the hatchery and habitat projects that are outlined in this section. These projects have supported recovery of Coquitlam River Chum, Coho and Pink runs to at least four times their lowest numbers and introduced a run of Chinook that has grown to be numerically comparable in size to the Coho returns (approximately 4,000 for each in 2010 and 2011). The Steelhead run is still quite small and Sockeye returns remain at or near zero, for reasons unrelated to SEP efforts. Although the increases in run sizes with the exception of sockeye are very encouraging, it should be recognized that all of the improvements listed in this section will not replace the vast amounts of lost habitat. Remaining habitat areas are at risk due to unresolved competing activities. Opportunities should be sought to improve and protect the capacity of existing habitat to support our salmon resources in a sustainable watershed environment.

Since 2003, there have been 2.4 million salmonids including Chinook, Chum, Coho, and Pink released inot the Coquitlam River, Hoy Creek and Scott Creek. Through projects such as those listed in the Resources box to this page, which involves balance of public, business and government participation, and through the facilitating efforts of an effective Coquitlam River Watershed Roundtable, such objectives can be realized and degradation of remaining, available habitat can be reversed.

View our Watershed Maps section, which provides the locations of the many fish habitat and enhancement projects, the three hatcheries, and areas juvenile salmonids have been released throughout the Coquitlam River watershed.

 
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Our Roundtable Watershed Coordinator can be reached at coordinator@coquitlamriverwatershed.ca

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