The Chinook Salmon (or King Salmon) is one of Canada’s most iconic fish species and is found throughout Canada’s west coast. Salmon are born in freshwater and undertake long migrations to saltwater to feed and mature to adulthood. After a few years in the ocean, salmon swim back up their home rivers and use their keen sense of smell to return to their birth sites to spawn. The Chinook Salmon life cycle ends after spawning, and their nutrient-rich bodies provide a critical resource for inland ecosystems. Salmon are also an invaluable component of Indigenous culture and support economically valuable commercial and recreational fisheries in Canada. Currently, salmon populations are threatened by overfishing, habitat fragmentation and climate change, among other factors. Many populations have been lost to extinction, while others are in severe decline.
The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) has completed assessment on 15 populations of Chinook Salmon in Canada and determined that 13 are Threatened or Endangered. Policy at the provincial and federal level falls short at protecting salmon runs, or migration routes, from both habitat fragmentation and over-exploitation in commercial fisheries. The Canadian Wildlife Federation is working with committed government and industry partners to improve the status of local salmon populations through research and outreach and is taking a broader-scale approach at identifying barriers to salmon migration in Canada.