Wild sockeye salmon sustainability and genomics focus of new research collaboration

February 10, 2021

A new collaborative research project will use genomic tools to guide the sustainable management of wild sockeye salmon populations in northwestern B.C..

SFU scientists are collaborating with Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), Coastal Rivers Conservancy, Wild Salmon Center, and Indigenous groups to develop more powerful genomic methods to genetically identify 118 populations of wild sockeye salmon in the province’s North and Central Coast regions and apply this tool for sockeye stewardship.

The project is funded through Genome BC’s GeneSolve program and other partners, and will be led by SFU professor Jonathan Moore.

B.C.’s wild sockeye salmon fisheries contain fish from genetically-different populations with a wide range of productivity. Researchers will develop a genomic tool to identify the origin of sockeye caught in these mixed-stock fisheries to support fisheries management and recovery efforts.

“In this era of climate change and unpredictable salmon returns, genomic tools and collaborators such as this can help improve the sustainable management of fish and fisheries,” said Moore.

Indigenous groups collaborating on the project include: Lax Kw’alaams fisheries, and the First Nations of Nuxalk, Kitasoo/Xai’xais and Heiltsuk, and the Coastal Coast Indigenous Resource Alliance.

The team will use the genomic tool to understanding migration routes and timing of different populations of sockeye salmon within four culturally significant fisheries

The knowledge gained through genetic sequencing will help improve population stewardship by allowing robust populations of fish to be harvested while protecting more vulnerable populations.