Monitoring juvenile salmon at the site of a proposed LNG export facility
As part of a biodiversity monitoring and assessment project near the site of a proposed liquefied natural gas export facility, Archipelago introduced a plan to monitor the health of nearby juvenile salmon communities.
When preparing to build a liquefied natural gas (LNG) export facility at Bish Cove, near Kitimat, British Columbia, Chevron Canada and Apache Canada initiated a Biodiversity Monitoring and Assessment Program (BMAP) to gather information about the status and trends of habitats, ecosystems and species at that location before, during and after construction.
As one of the BMAP member organizations (along with the University of Northern British Columbia’s Natural Resources and Environmental Studies Institute, and the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute’s Center for Conservation, Education and Sustainability), Archipelago was invited to design and implement two research protocols: an Eelgrass Community Monitoring Program, and a Juvenile Salmon Monitoring Program.
Juvenile salmon monitoring program
The first objective of the Juvenile Salmon Monitoring Program was to determine the current distribution and habitat use of juvenile pink and chum salmon, and their potential predators in Bish Cove. Secondly the program needed to develop methodologies to sample light levels in the nearshore environment, and assess the effects of the in-water structures on migratory routing direction and behaviour. To assess these factors, Archipelago employed a range of survey methods:
- Beach seine surveys
- Purse seine surveys
- Hook-and-line surveys
- Avian and mammal point count surveys and opportunistic sightings
- Above water visual surveys (boat-based surveys)
- Below water visual surveys (camera trap)
- Water quality, with respect to light levels (auto-logging light data loggers)
The Juvenile Salmon Monitoring Program was successfully implemented and completed in 2013, and a second year of data collection was completed in 2014.
In achieving these goals, the Juvenile Salmon Monitoring Program provides value-added information that could help identify improved methods for protecting juvenile salmon in nearshore industrial development areas. More specifically, this information will be used to examine whether the effects of overwater structures (shading and artificial light) significantly reduce the survival of the juvenile chum and pink salmon that use the cove during outmigration.
For more information on this project, visit the Chevron Canada Kitimat LNG project page.