Columbia Kootenay Fisheries Renewal Partnership

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The Columbia Kootenay Fisheries Renewal Partnership (CKFRP) is a community-oriented partnership dedicated to renewal and enhancement of fish populations, fish habitat and aquatic ecosystems.

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Mission:

“To engage the broad range of fisheries perspectives in a cooperative, community-based partnership to prioritize regional fish and fish habitat conservation and restoration needs and opportunities and to guide delivery of available funding to maximize environmental, social, and cultural benefits in the Columbia Kootenay Region.”

Our regional partnership has identified a variety of issues that include water quality and quantity, flow regulation and storage, as well as fish passage. These issues extend to most geographical areas of the region and exert impacts on fisheries resources at a variety of spatial scales. A central theme to each of the identified issues was the current lack of understanding of their implications on fisheries resources by the general public. The need for increased public awareness and education was elevated as one of the highest regional priorities to improve local knowledge of issues and advance community participation. The opportunity for community involvement in local projects was identified as an essential program requirement to promote environmental awareness and foster local stewardship. Project proposals submitted for 1999 should focus around these issues and provide a vehicle to improve public awareness.

Wild Fish Conservation:

With respect to fisheries resources, our partnership strongly supports wildfish conservation and maintenance of the indigenous species complex (i.e. keystone species; threatened or endangered species) within natural habitats. Aquatic biodiversity was recognized as a precursor to healthy aquatic ecosystems and the development of sustainable fisheries or maintenance of non-sportfish populations was envisioned as a means of preserving genetic diversity. The CKFRP emphasizes the importance of fish and fish habitat protection to prevent environmental perturbations that would otherwise require restorative investments in the future.

Conservation of wild fish was identified as a basin wide priority for the Columbia Kootenay Fisheries Renewal Partnership (CKFRP). "Wild Fish" has been used to describe both native fish species and fish stocks that have established naturally reproducing populations, i.e., populations that don't rely on artificial stocking programs, whether the population originates from native or introduced fish. The CKFRP Implementation Strategy defines wild fish as indigenous, or native, fish species. CKFRP should use "indigenous" in future, rather than "wild" to clarify which fish populations we are describing. A general policy that CKFRP supports projects or initiatives that benefit indigenous fish populations in their natural habitat and does not support projects or initiatives that have recognizable negative affects on indigenous fish populations should be adopted. Aquatic biodiversity was identified as a necessary component to maintain healthy aquatic ecosystems, therefore maintenance or restoration of biodiversity should be included as an objective.

The American Fisheries Society has been highlighting problems associated with non-native fish, including estimates that introduced fish were a factor in 80% of documented extinctions. Despite considerable, and expensive, efforts to extirpate non-native fish populations, success has been limited. Determining how to address conservation of indigenous fish in project selection and development of stewardship initiatives will be a challenge given the extent of species and stock introductions within the Columbia Basin. Development of a strategy that identifies historic and current status of indigenous fish stocks within the Columbia Basin and provides recommendations on how best to conserve these stocks through our programs will aid with future project selection and implementation.

The CKFRP conservation strategy includes the following components or tasks:

  • Documenting indigenous fish species distribution and identifying potential interactions
  • Project proposal information requirements
  • Development of an indigenous fish education and stewardship program
  • Work with agencies to protect indigenous populations and restore indigenous fish assemblages where possible
  • Research, Assessment and Monitoring


Fish Passage:

Since fish passage issues are widespread throughout the region, the present challenge is to identify at what scale migration barriers can effectively be resolved. Although fish passage issues surrounding hydro-electric development of the Columbia Basin are paramount, the magnitude of the problem is presently beyond the scope of short-term funding arrangements without major changes to present water use plans. For example, providing fish passage at mainstem dams of the Columbia River is unrealistic over the short-term whereas resolution of fish passage problems (i.e. culverts) in smaller streams of urban centers or forest landscapes is likely achievable. Fish passage around dams, however, is an issue well suited for future consideration within the context of a longer term fisheries strategic plan.

Water Management:

Similarly, flow regulation and storage issues associated with the mainstem Columbia River will not be resolved over the short-term but strategic investments in studies to address operational modifications over the long-term should be considered to facilitate discussion and negotiation at the regional and international level. In contrast, flow regulation and storage issues within local community watersheds may be resolved through negotiation with provincial and municipal authorities. Modifications to flow regulation and storage within a single sub-basin are not expected to impose the same operational constraints on downstream environments as witnessed on the Columbia River. In the same manner, local efforts to monitor water quality and quantity issues in smaller sub-basins could affect changes to present water use planning or provide baseline information from which informed ecosystem-based resource management choices can be adjudicated. For the purposes of our partnership, ecosystem-based decision-making will largely be supported at the sub-basin level where a higher likelihood of success is anticipated.

Strategic Fisheries Plan:

The CKFRP recognizes the need for a greater commitment of time and resources to address the concerns of communities, non-government organizations and government agencies in a strategic manner. The development of a strategic plan over the long-term is proposed as a high priority. The strategic planning process will provide the opportunity for further collaboration on priority fish species and habitats, development of long-term co-funding arrangements, and exploration of possible solutions to the more challenging issues (e.g., salmon restoration, fish passage at dams; water management planning).

 

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