Status of Wild Sockeye Stocks of the Babine Watershed


  • Several wild Babine sockeye stocks have been identified as a growing conservation concern.
  • This report examines the historical trends and current status of wild Babine sockeye returning to the Babine watershed in order to assess the overall health of populations.
  • DFO’s Salmon Escapement Database System was used to assess escapement trends for all identified wild sockeye stocks that spawned in the Babine watershed between 1950 and 2010.
  • Status classification for each stock was based on a combination of the average number of spawners between 1950 and 1999 (historic), and the average escapement between 2000 and 2010 (recent); escapement trends were calculated as the ratio of the arithmetic mean of all records during 2000-2010 to 1950-1999 records.
  • A total of 29 wild sockeye populations show spawning records in the Babine watershed.
  • Between 1950-2010, only 1 stock has been consistently monitored; 10 have been enumerated more than 50 years, and 7 were enumerated less than 10 years.
  • Monitoring effort for Babine sockeye declined during the 1990s, and has yet to rebound to historic levels.
  • Combined spawner numbers for all stocks range from a low of 40,750 (1955) to a high of 740,805 (2001), with a historic average annual return of 270,658 spawners (1950-1999).
  • Combined escapement has decreased 18% compared with historic data. Specifically, 9 of the previous 11 years were below the historic average, including the 6 most recent years (2005-2010).
  • Escapement trends for individual stocks show 17% are decreasing, 17% are stable, 28% are increasing, and 38% are of an unknown status due to insufficient data.
  • The classification of individual stocks show 7 of 29 populations are either threatened with extinction or of concern, 10 stocks are unknown, and 12 are considered not threatened.
  • Boucher Creek and Nichyeskwa Creek are at high extinction risk; Pendleton Creek and Wright Creek are at moderate extinction risk.
  • The return of wild-origin sockeye to the Babine watershed in 2010 (n = 80,208 spawners) shows a 95-97% decline compared with estimated historic annual returns of 1.7-2.9 million at the height of the commercial fishery.