The BC Wildlife Federation sounded the alarm last fall that ocean-going steelhead trout were facing extinction due to declining Thompson River steelhead numbers.
Due to the extreme decline of steelhead spawning numbers for the Thompson and Chilcotin River Steelhead Trout, the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) has conducted an emergency threat assessment.
COSEWIC has now concluded that steelhead in the Thompson and Chilcotin rivers rivers are assessed as being endangered.
“We fully support the call for emergency listing of the Thompson Chilcotin river system’s breeding steelhead under the federal Species At Risk Act (SARA). We are pleased that an independent committee has confirmed that the species need to have all the protection afforded by the SARA in order to save these fish from extinction,” said Harvey Andrusak, BCWF president.
Under SARA, the federal minister of environment and climate change must make a recommendation to cabinet that the species be added to the list of endangered wildlife in Canada.
Once the Interior Fraser Steelhead Trout are recommended for listing, COSEWIC is required to prepare a status report on the species within one year, confirming or reclassifying the at-risk status of the species.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada will undertake a regular listing process to confirm or reconsider the emergency listing, including thorough consultations with indigenous groups and stakeholders.
The extinction status listing can have impacts on on a variety of activities which are deemed to threaten the steelhead population. The main threats include inadvertent catch of adults by net fisheries targeting Pacific salmon and poor ocean conditions.
The record small numbers of overwintering B.C. Interior steelhead trout begin to lay their eggs later this spring.
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