LETTER: Linking chum and eagles

Thank you for publishing Pat Johnson's article, "Desperately Seeking Chum Salmon Returns" in your Dec. 20, 2018 edition. The piece was timely and informative.

The article stressed the importance of salmon, especially chum, to the ecosystem of the Squamish Valley and discussed several factors, which may be contributing to the poor returns in recent years. I was particularly interested in the quote from Clint Goyette on the declines in the chum returns.

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"He blames the trend on the Johnstone Strait chum fishery, which began in 2006, after which, he said ‘We saw an immediate decline in chum salmon coming back to the Squamish.'"

With the annual winter eagle count coming up on Jan. 6, I thought it would be interesting to look at results since 2006. The count in January 2007, the first count after the chum fishery started, was 1757, close to the average number for the preceding 10 years. 

The count the next year dropped to 893, approximately half that for 2007. Since then, the count has been below 1,000 every year, except for 2014, when the chum return was described by local sport fishermen as much better, and 1,617 eagles were counted.

I am only a concerned observer, but it seems to me that the chum fishery could be largely responsible for the reduction in numbers of wintering eagles. I hope further investigation can be done and action taken to support the chum.

Gwen L'Hirondelle


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