Benefits of Biodiversity

Maintaining Diverse and Abundant Salmon Populations Supports Social, Economic and Ecological Wellbeing


SockeyeWild salmon are lynchpin species in BC coastal and freshwater ecosystems as well as important to the BC economy fuelling food webs, commercial and recreational fisheries, tourism and delivering large quantities of nutrients to freshwater and riparian ecosystems. Salmon have been a cornerstone for coastal communities for thousands of years and are an integral part of First Nations’ culture and heritage. This strong foundation is largely due to the diversity of genetically distinct stocks that are uniquely adapted to the diverse array of salmon habitats across BC.  These stocks have evolved together to make up a rich genetic tapestry of salmon. Biodiversity in salmon stocks acts like shingles on a roof—overlapping and supporting one another. If one or two shingles are removed, the roof still works fine, but, remove too many and you’re left simply hoping that it doesn’t rain. Because of this, a key component for any plan to protect wild salmon must be maintaining their biodiversity and essential to protecting diversity is protecting the habitat that salmon rely on—diverse habitats support diverse salmon.

Unfortunately, wild salmon face many threats to their diversity and abundance. Destruction of habitat, overfishing, competition and genetic introgression from hatchery bred salmon, impacts from salmon farming, and climate change, whether alone or in combination, can all reduce the ability of salmon populations to adapt to change. Biodiversity is the foundation for a population’s ability to adapt to a changing environment, and adaptation is essential for survival.

Watershed Watch recognizes the importance of protecting biodiversity and addresses the key threats listed above in its activities. Pushing for full implementation of the Wild Salmon Policy, providing a conservation perspective at fisheries management tables, ensuring that eco-certification labels are meaningful, and partnering with Simon Fraser University’s Speaking for the Salmon series to address issues such as hatcheries, nutrient contributions from salmon to riparian systems, groundwater management, and hydropower development.

Fraser Basin LiveMapYou can learn more about salmon and water issues using Watershed Watch’s Fraser Basin LiveMap: An Interactive Salmon and Water Atlas. This web-based tool allows users to explore Fraser waterways and salmon populations, the threats they face, and their current status and future prospects.  The LiveMap includes official government data sets on historic water flows, salmon returns, water temperature, and other important factors that affect the aquatic ecosystems that make up the Fraser River watershed.