Sakinaw Lake near Pender Harbour on the Sechelt Peninsula is noteworthy for its unique Sockeye salmon. These fish are the last lake-spawning Sockeye in the Georgia basin. Consequently this run is of major concern to the Sechelt First Nation and society in general. The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) designated it as threatened with extinction in a 2002 emergency assessment. The exact cause of the decline is still not known. The federal government however chose not to list it under Schedule One of the Species at Risk Act (species receiving protection under the Act).
Prior to the mid 1930’s the annual catch by commercial fishing was estimated to be 25,000 fish. Recorded historic escapements peaked at 16,000 though the average was 5,000. In addition, the lake supported 7,500 Coho and 3,500 Chum spawners. The Sockeye runs in particular have declined precipitously. In spite of a 2005 National Recovery Strategy implemented between 2006-2009, only two Sockeye returned during this period. Optimistically, there have been increasing returns for 2009-12. Loss of critical habitat can result from the development or encroachment of the lake foreshore. In addition, logging or any industrial development within the watershed may negatively influence surface and/or groundwater quality and quantity entering the lake. Lake spawning Sockeye lay their eggs on or very near to fresh water up-wellings in foreshore areas.
Kokanee and Cutthroat have also been historically present. Cutthroat Trout of American origin were stocked between 1965 and 1969 and from Vancouver Island in 1984 and into 1989. Coho were stocked in 1988. That year it was also noted that the trout had better weight to length ratios than those in nearby lakes due to either lower fish densities and/or better lake productivity.
Over 500 Sockeye returned in 2011 and approximately 250 returned in 2012. Recovery efforts and monitoring activity are continuing.
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- Last Updated: Monday, 27 August 2012 23:09