‘Salmon cannon’ up and running at B.C. landslide, though fish slow to arrive

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OTTAWA — A pump system dubbed the salmon cannon is up and running along a remote stretch of British Columbia’s Fraser River in order to help fish move past a massive landslide.

It’s believed the slide north of Lillooet happened in late fall 2018, but it wasn’t discovered until last June after fish had already begun arriving at the site on their journey to spawning grounds.

Earlier this month, officials with Fisheries and Oceans Canada told a House of Commons committee meeting that early runs of Stuart sockeye and chinook salmon were devastated last year.

The director of the department’s response to the landslide says plans are now in place to significantly increase the number of fish that survive using several methods, including the so-called salmon cannon.

Gwil Roberts says sonar monitoring shows 30 fish have arrived near the slide so far and three have moved into a fish ladder that guides them into the pump system.

The initial system has two tubes that run along the side of the river canyon wall for about 160 metres and six tubes of different sizes are set to be installed in July.

Roberts says early runs of chinook can begin arriving in the area in late May, but the fish seem to be moving more slowly up the Fraser River this year.

There are still very few salmon near the slide, but six have made it past on their own.

“In years where there is less water in the Fraser, fish are making their journey at a more rapid pace. So, we’ve seen a bit of that slow down this season,” he added during a briefing on Wednesday.

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