A new study published by the British Columbia Pacific Salmon Forum throws light on environmental and other conditions and events in the Broughton Archipelago over nearly 60 years.
'Broughton Archipelago: A State of Knowledge, by Dr Isobel A. Pearsall', contains more than 600 pages of data on salmon escapes, commercial salmon harvests, farmed salmon production, sea lice counts on wild and farmed salmon, climate and rainfall, river discharges, ocean currents, waste management and marine escapes, forest harvesting and watershed assessments.
Dr Pearsall pulled these data together from a wide variety of government sources as well as from non-profit organisations, forest companies, fish farming companies and private individuals. It is a chronological survey based on available data going back to 1952.
The Broughton is one of the most complex ecosystems in the province - a turbulent region of fjords, passages and mountains swept by winds, tides and currents, fed by numerous rivers and streams. It hosts the majority of the province's salmon farms and is the epicentre of a multi-year debate around the environmental impact of salmon farms - in particular, about their impact on wild pink salmon.
"The BC Pacific Salmon Forum commissioned the study," says chairman John Fraser, "because it will serve public understanding, and help stimulate good research, putting into the public domain as much information as possible on environmental and other forces that have shaped the Broughton. It is also intended to provide a context for the Forum's research programme in the Broughton."
Data in the report indicates in some detail the widespread fluctuations in pink salmon populations in the Broughton for generations. Says Mr Fraser: "We didn't ask the researcher to make a judgment on what has caused these fluctuations. We asked her to gather together data that would help everyone understand the complexities of the region and the multitude of factors that have, or may have, impacted wild salmon over the past five decades."