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sector_ico_Fisheries_trans Fisheries & Aquaculture

Genomic solutions for informing sockeye repatriation and kokanee fisheries management

  • Project Leaders: Michael Russello, Richard Bussanich
  • Institutions: University of British Columbia (UBC)
  • Budget: $285000
  • Program/Competition: User Partnership Program
  • Genome Centre(s): Genome British Columbia
  • Fiscal Year: 2014
  • Status: Closed

Freshwater fisheries are an integral part of BC’s social and economic fabric. Direct, indirect and induced impacts of sport fishing totals more than $950 million. Kokanee, a freshwater form of sockeye salmon, supports very popular recreational fisheries in lakes across BC’s Okanagan region and the Pacific Northwest and is also a traditional food source for First Nations. Cumulative impacts of population growth and land use practices may be leading to the “invisible collapse” of Canada’s freshwater fisheries.

This research project offered insight into how freshwater fisheries can be better informed and subsequently managed through the use of genomic technologies. Findings relevant to ecotype divergence include identification of genomic markers which were able to segregate shore and stream spawning salmon and the development of a panel of genomic markers, which could discern resident and anadromous phenotypes.

In addition, the team was able to create reference genomes for several salmon populations in locations across BC which can be used to inform broodstock selection. Using genomic technologies, the team also monitored the reintroduction of sockeye salmon to Skaha Lake where the initiative was found to be succeeding. However, hybridization with native kokanee is of concern and ongoing genetic monitoring will be necessary to fully understand the long-term impact on the resident kokanee population.

This project brought together end-user partners and stakeholders in freshwater fisheries including the Okanagan Nation Alliance, the BC Ministry of Forests, Land and Natural Resource Operations and BC Hydro. The outcomes of this project resulted in both a road map for genetic assessment and monitoring of existing and planned sockeye reintroduction initiatives province-wide and beyond and generated information and tools for annual stock assessment and risk analysis in many BC lakes.