Investigating the early marine dynamics of Skeena River sockeye salmon using scale pattern analysis
This project will address questions about the variable marine survival of different Skeena river sockeye stocks. Zooplankton sampling will be conducted along the smolt outmigration route to determine the timing of peak abundance of important sockeye prey items. The scale characteristics of a number of different Skeena sockeye stocks across different years will be compared to determine relationships between early marine growth and smolt size, migration timing, and zooplankton abundance. Statistical analysis of historical escapement data will provide insights about spatial trends in sockeye productivity and abundance. The Lax Kw’alaams fishing community will benefit from improved predictions of future sockeye abundance in order to plan for poor returns and identify new potential terminal fisheries. The data from the zooplankton project, combined with new knowledge about smolt migration timing and growth in the early marine environment will provide insights into the differential productivity of Skeena sockeye stocks, while the statistical analysis of escapement data will determine patterns of stability of small-lake stocks within Lax Kw’alaams territories.