To the editor;
Fisheries and Oceans Canada is aware of the statement released by the British Columbia Wildlife Federation on the current condition of the Bonaparte River Fishway (Last of Interior Fraser Steelhead imperiled by DFO action, Star/Journal Apr. 17, 2019).
DFO is actively working on repairs to a breach in the fishway. Local flood events and higher-than-average flows have had a significant, ongoing negative impact on the progress of the repairs. The rapid rise of water levels has made recent river diversion efforts un-manageable and unsafe, limiting our ability to reach the site to continue repairs. To facilitate fish passage, provincial biologists, in partnership with the Bonaparte Indian Band, have been conducting steelhead trap and transportation work. DFO has supported this effort by supplying oxygenated fish transport equipment.
Throughout the complicated repair process, DFO has regularly consulted with the Province of British Columbia’s steelhead team and the Secwepemc Fisheries Commission, and provided regular updates to them, as well as the Bonaparte Indian Band.
The Bonaparte River fishway is on a major tributary of the Thompson River and is an important component in the migration for interior Fraser steelhead trout, chinook and Coho salmon to reach spawning habitat previously unreachable before the fishway’s construction.
Significant progress was made on repairs throughout the winter months, when river flows fell. During this time, DFO was able to successfully stabilize remaining portions of the fishway through rock anchors and shotcreteing to prevent further deterioration of the shared asset. The timeline for completion of this project remains dependent on favourable weather and environmental conditions that would allow the work to safely continue.
Strategic Media Relations Advisor
Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Pacific Region