The Skeena River is an important habitat for sockeye salmon in B.C. It has been known for some time that their numbers in this area have been declining over time, although it has been unclear by how much.
Using a collection of sockeye salmon scales dating back to 1913, researchers from Simon Fraser University have been able to create a more accurate estimate. Genomic data derived from those scales indicates that populations have dropped by roughly 74% since 1913.
One suggested cause for this dramatic drop is fishing; salmon populations with the largest body size have declined the most. In order to have any hope of increasing the population sizes of sockeye salmon in B.C. these results need to be seen as a wake-up call, and a starting point to change fishing practices in order to help this species survive.
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