Going to see salmon spawning is a yearly ritual for many B.C. families. However, as more and more salmon populations become endangered, we should take care not to disturb them at this critical time in their life cycle. Here are some basic tips for safe salmon spawn viewing.
Keep dogs on a leash
When dogs chase spawning salmon, the fish suffer extreme stress which may prevent them from laying their eggs or even cause premature death. Eggs already in the streambed may be crushed. NB. There is a charge for harassing fish and wildlife under the B.C. Wildlife Act and the Fisheries Act.
A hands-off learning experience
Kids are curious, and spawning salmon are fascinating. Who can blame them for wanting to jump in and observe up close? Please explain to children the need to stay out of the water so as not to disturb spawning adults or step on eggs already in the streambed. This is a great opportunity to teach them to respect wildlife.
Love ‘em from afar
For a great look at what fish are doing, use binoculars and keep your distance. Please respect these amazing creatures by staying out of the stream.
Take care of riparian zones
Be careful not to trample vegetation along streambanks. These riparian areas play an important role in keeping salmon-bearing streamscool, clean and aerated. Most popular spawning spots have paths, so please stick to them.
Think of those who come after you
Some spawning spots see hundreds or even thousands of visitors every year. Consider the cumulative impact of all of those people and do your best to minimize your impact.
Your local creek probably has a streamkeepers group helping take care of it. Learn from them or help out. You can also learn more about salmon streams from Pacific Streamkeepers Federation.
You can help us build a better picture of how the salmon returns are faring across the province. If you head out to see salmon spawning in your area, use your phone to take photos or make a short video and post on it social media with the date and location and the hashtag #salmonspawnwatch. Include any observations you make while you are there. If there are no salmon returning, and you expect them to, that is an important observation too!
With special thanks to Jim Palmer with Morrison Creek Streamkeepers. Morrison Creek Streamkeepers are an active group of watershed residents and community members dedicated to preserving, rehabilitating and promoting public awareness of the Morrison Creek watershed in Courtenay.