SEHAB Roundtable Template––June 2016

SEHAB Member:    Cindy Verbeek       

Area:              Upper Skeena (Smithers and area)                  

Community Advisor:         Vacant

Date:              October 2016                      

Key Issues:

What top three points can you distill from community input to take to DFO RHQ?

  1. The vacant CA position in our region (Upper Skeena) needs to be filled on a permanent basis a.s.a.p. Volunteer groups in our region cannot function effectively without the support, advice, and liaison services provided by the Community Advisor. Our region cannot be sub-divided and the tasks of the CA effectively covered by CAs in adjoining regions. 
  2. Recent and unexplained fluctuations in salmon returns in our watershed indicate need for restoration of DFO scientific capacity to study in-stream and ocean factors affecting salmonid survival. Once these are better understood, DFO should communicate with volunteer groups how we may effectively assist in addressing the factors which are negatively impacting salmon in our specific regions or watersheds.
  3. Rules currently applying to salmon habitat need to be clarified and that information disseminated and readily available to organizations and the public. DFO needs to ensure that reported infractions are addressed in a timely and effective manner.


A few examples of successes, failures, challenges.

Chicago Creek Enhancement Society

  1. A Challenge Story: In the Fall of 2015, there was a significant high water event that required us to pull panels from our fish fence and suspend our trap and transport program for coho spawners. The event, which appeared to be linked to CN work to remove upstream beaver dams adjacent to its tracks, continued for about 3 days. Water flows were so high that salmon redds previously established upstream were washed downstream, along with a significant amount of spawning gravel placed in weirs constructed with PSF funding in 2013. The event was reported to our contacts at CN and DFO and subsequently discussed at a watershed round table meeting organized by our Society in June 2016.  This fall, we encountered uncharacteristically high and turbid water at the fence site during the period we would normally install the fish fence in low water.  It appears that complete removal of some beaver dams upstream may have compromised the ability of the watershed to retain some of the water created by sustained precipitation.  As a result, downstream flows are more variable and turbid during wet periods.  Further discussions will occur with watershed partner groups, DFO personnel and CN representatives to develop methods of beaver dam management which do not adversely impact fish habitat or survival.
  2. A Success Story: In 2015, funding was received from the Pacific Salmon Foundation for work to clear silt from spawning beds in New Hazelton which have not been used by transported coho. Due to high workloads, provincial agencies could not survey the proposed work site and issue permits for the desired work window in July 2015. Permission was sought and received from PSF to extend the project to July 2016.  We were able to successfully rehabilitate about 140m2 of spawning beds this summer.  As a result, up to an additional 50 spawning coho pairs can be transported to New Hazelton this fall, if returns are large enough to permit this additional transfer.

Upper Bulkley River Streamkeepers

A Success Story: 4,400 healthy coho fry released into the Upper Bulkley River raised in a 10 x 10 shed with 30+ volunteers. This project has garnered support from the community and was so successful we are working towards building a permanent facility to raise small numbers of coho and a place to house watershed learning and streamkeepers activities.

Issues Specific to SEHAB’s Work Plan:

SEHAB Work Plan

Local Issue, Specific  Examples

Actions by Community or DFO

SEHAB Opportunity

Wild Salmon Policy (Stock Assessment, Habitat)

-Actions by CN in beaver dam management that negatively impact salmon stocks and habitat.

-Community volunteers contacted DFO and CN. 

-Warning given to CN. No other action by DFO.

-Advocate with DFO & Minister for clarification of current habitat protection rules and roles.

-Advocate for enforcement of habitat protection rules.


Small scale recirculation system were met with skepticism.

4,400 healthy coho raised in a 10x10 shed by community volunteers in Houston supported by CA and DFO staff.

Encourage others to look at small scale recirculation systems as a viable fish raising method.

Capacity & Core Funding

-Aging group of core volunteers declining in numbers over time.

-Use of personal networking and public involvement activities to make contact with larger pool of young volunteers.

-Continue to publicize activities of volunteer groups in all regions (this has resulted in two new volunteers for our group in 2016).

-Continue to support or provide workshops to train new volunteers in executive and ‘hands on’ skills.