A collaborative genomic research project is underway to map the movements of 118 Northwest sockeye populations to better inform management decisions on at-risk stocks. (File photo)

A collaborative genomic research project is underway to map the movements of 118 Northwest sockeye populations to better inform management decisions on at-risk stocks. (File photo)

Genomic study tracks 118 Northwest B.C. sockeye populations

Development of new tool will be used to help harvesters target healthy groups

New research is underway in the Northwest to clearly pin down the genetic traits of 118 Northwest salmon populations to help harvesters target low risk runs, and avoid those at risk.

“Pacific salmon have an amazing number of locally adapted populations with different local adaptations and genes. This project will help the effective stewardship of this remarkable biodiversity and sustainable fisheries,” project lead, Dr. Jonathan Moore of Simon Fraser University, said.

SFU researchers, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), Coastal Rivers Conservancy and the Wild Salmon Center are collaborating on the project with the Lax Kw’alaams fisheries, and the First Nations of Nuxalk, Kitasoo/Xai’xais and Heiltsuk and the Central Coast Indigenous Resource Alliance.

READ MORE: Gitanyow study using salmon DNA to count annual runs

One of the key challenges in salmon management is identifying and protecting at-risk populations within a mixed stock fishery, like that on the north and central coast composed of hundreds of different populations with their own histories, genetic makeup and population-growth rates.

The aim of the research is to develop a quick, cost-effective tool to monitor and identify these populations for better fisheries management and recovery efforts.

The tool will also allow the team to map migration routes and spawn timing of populations caught in four culturally important fisheries to allow for a careful assessment of harvestable fish.

The research is partially funded by the not-for-profit organization Genome BC.

READ MORE: B.C. researchers identify new tool to trace salmon at sea



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