Skeena River Chinook Baseline Sampling 2009-2010

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Executive Summary

A large sampling program was undertaken in 2009 and 2010 by the Skeena Fisheries Commission to improve the genetic baseline information on Skeena River Chinook. 3046 Chinook were sampled from 20 rivers throughout the Skeena Watershed and added to the DNA data set. Most of the sampled fish were fry in their natal rivers. The 2009 and 2010 sampling has increased the existing baseline from 12 populations in 2008 to 30 populations. The improved data is changing the understanding of wild Chinook populations in the Skeena. Evaluation of the genetic distinctiveness and the geographic distribution of Chinook populations led to the joining of various closely related populations into the 30 populations discussed here. The Skeena Test Fishery sampling has been reanalyzed by Ivan Winther with this improved baseline. Procedures for genetic separation of Skeena Chinook have been improved by Terry Beacham and a new dendrogram showing the relationship of Skeena populations has been prepared by John Candy of the DFO molecular genetics laboratory.

The cladogram presented here provides a useful objective tool to separate the Skeena Chinook into five clade groups which might well be the basis for Conservation Units under the Wild Salmon Policy.