LETTER: Problems with article on fish stocks

From reader Richard Green

Re: West Kootenay municipalities to lobby upper levels of government over plight of fish stocks, Nov. 11

It is most encouraging that the Regional District of Central Kootenay and the municipalities of Nelson and Kaslo are sending a letter to the provincial and federal governments about the sorry state of our local fish stocks.

Unfortunately, there were several errors in the article, and it will be most unfortunate if these errors are repeated in the above-mentioned letter.

Specifically, it was stated that eight years ago the kokanee salmon population in Kootenay Lake collapsed from an average of about a million fish to a record low of 12,000 in 2017. These numbers actually refer to the number of spawning kokanee. The historical number of kokanee in Kootenay Lake has been over 60 million until eight years ago.

Omitted from the article was any mention of the basic cause of the collapse — predation by the Gerrard rainbow and bull trout or Dolly Varden fish in Kootenay Lake. Those predators were allowed to reach unsustainable numbers and essentially nearly wiped out the kokanee population. At the same time the very large predators became endangered due to a lack of food.

I’m all for restoring habitat and protecting habitat but that will be to no avail if the predators continue to be mismanaged.

It would have been appropriate to mention in the article the fish head program run by the West Arm Outdoors Club with collaboration from the BC Wildlife Federation. That program is helping to reduce the numbers of the predatory fish so that the kokanee population can recover. To the credit of the Nelson Star, it has reported in the past on that program — an initiative designed and run by conservation-minded sportsmen.

Richard Green