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Stronghold Background Documents


Excerpts from PFRCC, Report on Harrison Basin Certification Application 2010
The Harrison Basin is a "crown jewel” of the BC salmon resource. With all five species of salmon as well as steelhead trout present, it is perhaps the only basin that provides a home to all the anadromous species. Some of the species have unique life histories, such as river-run sockeye that migrate downstream to the Fraser estuary upon emergence from the gravel, and sockeye that migrate down Weaver Creek to the Harrison River and then up the Harrison River to rear in Harrison Lake. Harrison Basin stocks are numerous and increasing in number at the same time as other late-run Fraser River salmon stocks are decreasing in number. The Harrison chinook stocks are also exceptional and abundant, with over 250,000 spawners in some years.
Habitat in the Harrison Basin is generally in good shape; a few problems are being addressed, other ones need to be, and several emerging threats to wild salmon have been identified. The Harrison chinook, and both Harrison River and Weaver Creek sockeye Conservation Units, have very good Salmon Stronghold expert analysis scores,ranging from 17–20 out of a maximum of 20 for these three Conservation Units. (Expert assessments for salmon are incorporated at the end of section III of this application).
Despite the importance of these wild salmon, local citizens are largely unaware of the significance of the Harrison salmon resource. The assignment of Salmon Stronghold status will be instrumental in raising public awareness of the basin’s extraordinary salmon values, and in leading to proactive management and planning in the Harrison Basin.
Similarly, government fisheries agencies are not currently devoting extra care and attention to ensuring the viability of salmon and steelhead in the area; rather, new developments that can affect salmon are being reviewed via standard agency policies. A startling example of this is the Fraser Valley Regional District Aggregate Pilot Project (2009), undertaken by the Province of BC in conjunction with the aggregate industry to identify and examine potential aggregate sources in the Fraser Valley. The published report on this project includes a "for discussion only” map, in which most of the west side of the Harrison River and the large islands in Harrison Lake are identified as potential aggregate sources. Although the report mentions the environment, the words "fish” and "salmon” are not used. The report makes it clear that decisions on such matters rest with the Province and are not subject to municipal zoning, but it makes no mention of the role of the federal government, which is responsible for protecting fish habitat under the constitution.
Other activities, such as ongoing and increasing log booming in the Harrison River, pose serious risks to salmon and steelhead. In spite of this, these activities are not being given adequate attention to ensure that the strength and uniqueness of the salmon stocks spawning in the Harrison are preserved.
The Harrison Basin is a prime example of a crucial salmon system that is being taken for granted by those entrusted with its care. As in many other parts of BC, no proactive approaches are in place to avoid damage or screen out inappropriate development; neither are efforts being made to collect key information on the status of Conservation Units such as coho, chum and pink salmon for management purposes. Stronghold Status could be the driver for improved assessment of healthy populations and better information to manage the Harrison salmon and steelhead resource.
DOCUMENTS (Click to download PDF File)