Let’s Talk Salmon: A reflection on the SEHAB meeting in Nanaimo (Nov 6-8 2022)

By Marjorie Lieuwen, Northern BC Conservation Science Coordinator

Nov 17, 2022

Kiwis, salmon, nanaimo bars…is this article going to be about dietary recommendations? No, but it is part of what comes to mind when I reflect back on the SEHAB meeting I attended November 6-8 at Kiwi Cove Lodge south of Nanaimo (their kiwi jam is delicious!). SEHAB stands for Salmon Enhancement and Habitat Advisory Board. The board members represent volunteer stewardship groups in British Columbia and voice their reasons for concern and celebration before the federal and provincial governments. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) has Community Advisors in regions of BC to work with salmon enhancement and habitat projects, and the SEHAB board is arranged by the same regions.

For our area, Smithers & Northwestern BC, Kris Bulloch at Toboggan Creek Hatchery is the main SEHAB representative. Cindy Verbeek has served as both rep and alternate, and now has passed on the role of alternate to me. I am so glad I could attend this meeting as it helped me understand how our little hatchery in Houston fits into the bigger picture and I learned so much from talking with the other SEHAB board members who have an incredible amount of experience and knowledge. 

At this meeting the main topic of discussion was the Pacific Salmon Strategy Initiative (PSSI), which the government is developing in order to bring more support to conservation and stewardship, salmon enhancement, harvesting and collaboration. They are asking for input through their platform Let’s Talk Pacific Salmon through several engagement stages.

We also heard a presentation from Dr. Tanya Brown, a Research Scientist with DFO, who studies the effects of water contaminants on fish. She spoke on a key issue affecting Pacific salmon: the discovery that 6PPD-quinone, a byproduct of an additive in tires, is toxic to fish, with coho salmon being particularly sensitive (https://www.tbrownlab.com/copy-of-juvenile-chinook). Stewardship groups were observing coho mortalities after large rainfall events which flush urban runoff into streams, and investigations led to 6PPD-q. This highlights how important green stormwater practices such as rain gardens are, as they have potential to attenuate compounds like these and stop them being flushed into our streams. 

It is encouraging to see collaboration in motion between stewardship groups, government, First Nations and scientific researchers as we work towards healthy environments and healthy communities!

Have Your Say!

Let's Talk Pacific Salmon

Let’s Talk Pacific Salmon is a platform for Canadians to have their say on Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) strategies and programs related to Pacific salmon. It will provide DFO with direct feedback to help us plan and implement the Pacific Salmon Strategy Initiative (PSSI).

Have Your Say!
female angler holding net with coho salmon in it