Fisheries and Oceans Canada photo

Fisheries and Oceans Canada photo

High tech fish transport system set up to ‘whoosh’ salmon past Big Bar landslide

Fish will spend roughly 20 seconds inside the system, moving at roughly 20 metres per second

Just like its name suggests, the ‘Whooshh Passage Portal’ will soon be propelling salmon stocks past the Big Bar landslide site on the Fraser River through a ladder and tube system.

The new fish passage network is part of ongoing mitigation efforts since the landslide was discovered in late June of 2019, causing 75,000 cubic metres of rock to fall into the river roughly 100 kilometres north of Lillooet and, in the process, blocking spawning salmon passage into B.C.’s Interior.

Gwil Roberts, director of landslide response for Fisheries and Oceans Canada working at the site, said the system will be ready soon to provide salmon stocks a boost along the Fraser River, past the slide site, once they begin arriving in the near future.

“As we are moving right now into our spring and summer works programs, we have seen water rising at the site as the snowpacks have melted … as a result of the higher volumes, fish passage is prevented,” Roberts said.

“This was anticipated so we were and are putting measures in place to ensure fish passage by other transport means.”

Roberts said the mitigation team is currently preparing the site for the final pieces of the Whooshh Passage Portal (WPP) to arrive. The WPP is being leased from Seattle-based Whooshh Innovations.

READ MORE: First Nations want Big Bar landslide cleared ASAP to allow fish passage

A concrete fish ladder has also been constructed to help channel fish into the WPP.

“A lot of effort has gone into this system and we’re very pleased with the progress so far,” Roberts said. “The Whooshh System is on a platform above the river level, fish make their way up to a level [through the fish ladder] where they can then continue into the Whooshh. Fish will sense the existence of flowing water coming down the ladder, move up the ladder, come around into a holding pen and from there they will move into the steep pass system of the Whooshh and continue through, sorted and scanned, into tubes and be pushed up river to get over the slide site.”

Fish will spend about 20 seconds inside the system, moving at roughly eight metres per second.

Once river levels subside, Roberts said the mitigation team has cleared a passageway on the west side of the Fraser River for fish to swim through, as well.

If absolutely necessary, Roberts added there is also an option to truck and transport salmon by tank past the landslide site.

Salmon arriving at the slide site include chinook, coho, sockeye, pink and steelhead.

“Those fish all arrive at different times and we will have the Whooshh available to move them,” he said. “If we get drops [in water level] they’ll be able to move up the slide on their own on the west side. What we put in place are systems to assist where needed.”

While seeing a high mortality rate in May and June of 2019, Roberts expects to see salmon death almost completely avoided this year.

“There should be no mortality,” he said, noting DFO has been working closely with First Nations and the Province to find solutions to the problem.

“We see the fish here as vital to all things for the salmon fishery and we need to find an answer … we are looking at the destruction of salmon stock if we don’t help, or facilitate, and let fish passage happen.”



greg.sabatino@wltribune.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

landslideSalmon

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Fisheries and Oceans Canada photo

Fisheries and Oceans Canada photo

The Whooshh Passage Portal - Fisheries and Oceans Canada image

The Whooshh Passage Portal - Fisheries and Oceans Canada image

Just Posted

Last year, the Sharing the Christmas Spirit Hamper Program operated at the old St. Joseph’s Hospital site. File photo
Christmas hamper program finds space in Courtenay

An annual Christmas hamper program in the Comox Valley has found a… Continue reading

During a public hearing in November, a Comox resident proposed the idea of a roundabout at the intersection of Lerwick and McDonald Roads. Google Maps photo
Comox development get the green light

The development - at 2309 McDonald Rd. - received third reading at the most recent council meeting

CSWM is being asked to reconsider statutory holiday closures for solid waste delivery to the regional landfill. Record file photo
Cumberland also asks for landfill stat closure reconsideration

Council follows Comox’s lead in asking waste board to rethink decision

A youth has been arrested in response to yesterday’s threat directed at Lake Trail Middle School. File photo
Youth arrested in connection with threat directed at Courtenay school

A youth has been arrested after the Comox Valley RCMP and School… Continue reading

These boards were delivered to Brooklyn Elementary before being stolen this fall. Facebook photo
Vandalism damage at Comox Valley schools way up this year

The amount in 2020/21 is already 50 per cent higher than the previous year

A woman wears a protective face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as she walks along the seawall in North Vancouver Wednesday, November 25, 2020.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
911 new COVID-19 cases, 11 deaths as B.C. sees deadliest week since pandemic began

Hospitalizations reach more than 300 across the province

The Ahousaht First Nation confirmed its first case of COVID-19 on Nov. 26, 2020. (Westerly file photo)
Ahousaht First Nation on lockdown over COVID-19

“Emotions are high. The anxiety is high. We want our community to pull through.”

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Screenshot of Pastor James Butler giving a sermon at Free Grace Baptist Church in Chilliwack on Nov. 22, 2020. The church has decided to continue in-person services despite a public health order banning worship services that was issued on Nov. 19, 2020. (YouTube)
Two Fraser Valley churches continue in-person services despite public health orders

Pastors say faith groups are unfairly targeted and that charter rights protect their decisions

The steel wall along Kus-kus-sum to the 17th Street Bridge. Photo by Sue Vince
B.C. contributes $650,000 to Comox Valley restoration project

An abandoned sawmill site at the edge of the K’omoks estuary will… Continue reading

A big job: Former forests minister Doug Donaldson stands before a 500-year-old Douglas fir in Saanich to announce preservation of some of B.C.’s oldest trees, July 2019. (B.C. government)
B.C. returning to ‘stand-alone’ forests, rural development ministry

Horgan says Gordon Campbell’s super-ministry doesn’t work

Most Read