When you cruise north of the Strait of Georgia, you reach a network of constricted tidal passages, leading on to Johnstone Strait.
One of these passages (and to my eye, one of the most beautiful stretches of water on the BC coast) is Okisollo Channel, lying between Quadra and Sonora Islands. In late summer, fog occurs frequently here – both a navigational hazard and a photographer’s delight. I took this photo one August morning, just as the fog was finally lifting enough to allow us to haul anchor and move on, heading north on our journey.
Over the past few years the whole area around Okisollo – including the nearby passages of Hoskyn, Nodales and Cordero Channels – has come to be known as “Wild Salmon Narrows”. The moniker is a good one, because wild salmon must pass through these narrow waters twice in their lives: first, when they’re migrating out to sea as juveniles, and finally, when they’re coming home to their birth rivers as spawning adults, at the end of their natural lives.
Unfortunately, wild salmon face a serious threat when they’re travelling through Wild Salmon Narrows: a great many fish farms line these passages. Open netcages full of farmed salmon (mostly Atlantics, a species foreign to BC waters) are very effective breeding grounds for sea lice, other pathogens and fish disease – putting the passing wild salmon runs (including the mighty Fraser River sockeye) at risk.
The good news is that there’s an active campaign underway to move these farms out of Wild Salmon Narrows, to give wild salmon a safe migration route. You can learn more or get involved by contacting the Georgia Strait Alliance.
Update, March 22, 2013:
Good news! The BC government has announced that it will not issue any new fish farm tenures or allow any expansion of existing ones in the Wild Salmon Narrows (Discovery Islands) area until at least September 30, 2020. This decision came in response to the recommendations of the Cohen Inquiry into the Decline of the Fraser River Sockeye. Congratulations to Georgia Strait Alliance and all of the other groups and individuals who have worked so hard to protect wild salmon from the impacts of netcage fish farms in our local waters!