Scientific Name: Oncorhynchus tshawytscha
Taxonomy Group: Fishes
Range: British Columbia, Pacific Ocean
Last COSEWIC Assessment: April 2006
Last COSEWIC Designation: Threatened
SARA Status: No schedule, No Status
PLEASE NOTE: Not all COSEWIC reports are currently available on the SARA Public Registry. Most of the reports not yet available are status reports for species assessed by COSEWIC prior to May 2002. Other COSEWIC reports not yet available may include those species assessed as Extinct, Data Deficient or Not at Risk. In the meantime, they are available on request from the COSEWIC Secretariat.
The chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha Walbaum) is one of six species of the Pacific salmon (genus Oncorhynchus) native to North America. This report assesses the status of the chinook salmon population within the Okanagan River basin in British Columbia as a COSEWIC Designatable Unit (DU).
The Chinook salmon (Okanagan population) are the only remaining Columbia Basin population of Chinook salmon in Canada, and are geographically, reproductively and genetically distinct from all other Canadian Chinook salmon populations. They consist of anadromous salmon that migrate to and from the Pacific Ocean through the Columbia River, and also individuals that remain in Osoyoos Lake. The Chinook salmon (Okanagan population) was once large enough to support an important food and trade fishery prior to settlement by non-native people. The population used to occupy the area from Osoyoos Lake to Okanagan Lake, but McIntyre Dam has limited access to only the area below the dam and in Osoyoos Lake. As well as this habitat loss, the population was depleted by historic overfishing in the Columbia River and juvenile and adult mortality due to dams downstream on the Columbia River. Fisheries exploitation in the ocean, deterioration in the quality of the remaining Canadian habitat, and new predators and competitors such as non-native fishes also contributed to the current depleted state of the population. Genetic data show evidence of successful reproduction and maturation by individuals in this population, but also that this small population has genetic diversity similar to much larger populations in adjacent areas of the Columbia River basin, and is closely related to those populations. The genetic data, as well as the presence of fish of hatchery origin in the Canadian portion of the Okanagan River indicate that it is very likely that fish from elsewhere in the upper Columbia River basin have contributed reproductively to the population. With spawning numbers as low as 50 adults, the population is at risk of extinction from habitat loss, exploitation and stochastic factors, but may also be subject to rescue from populations in adjacent areas of the Columbia River basin.
Her Excellency the Governor General in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of the Environment, acknowledges receipt, on the making of this Order, of the assessments conducted pursuant to subsection 23(1) of the Species at Risk Act by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) with respect to the species set out in the annexed schedule.
Her Excellency the Governor General in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of the Environment, pursuant to section 27(1) and (1.1) of the Species at Risk Act, hereby makes the annexed Order Amending Schedules 1 to 3 to the Species at Risk Act.
Your opinion is being sought to assist the government of Canada in making an informed decision on whether to add the Speckled Dace, Chinook Salmon (Okanagan population) and Northern Fur Seal to the Schedule 1 (the List of Wildlife Species at Risk) of the Species at Risk Act (SARA). Your input on the impacts of adding these species to the List is important. This workbook has been developed to give you an opportunity to provide Fisheries and Oceans Canada with your feedback, advice, and other comments regarding adding these species to Schedule 1 of SARA (Schedule 1 identifies which species are legally protected under SARA).