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

The Whooshh Passage Portal - Fisheries and Oceans Canada image

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Aces aplenty at Vernon Golf Club

Local track has 14 recorded holes-in-one since April 30

Sad ending in case of missing Vernon senior

Body of Wayne Orser found floating in Okanagan Lake Tuesday, July 7

Vernon murder case back in court

Voir dire held for one of two accused in death of William Bartz in July 2017

North Okanagan district shifts attention to wildfire season

FireSmart, Grab-and-Go Bags and emergency planning among tips for wildfire preparedness

Vernon police deem car fire ‘suspicious’

A vehicle was fully involved last night on 24th Avenue, cause still unknown

84-year-old Okanagan resident finishes 12,000-piece puzzle

Willie Tribiger started the puzzle in 2013, completing it in six and a half years

LETTER: Keep your pooch on a leash

Hey there “responsible dog owner.” I would just like to say thank… Continue reading

LETTER: the cheapest and easiest way to save lives

We are all anxiously awaiting the arrival of a Coronavirus vaccine. So… Continue reading

Fraser Valley woman complains of violent RCMP takedown during wellness check

Mounties respond that she was not co-operating during Mental Health Act apprehension

B.C. sees 12 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths

Three outbreaks exist in health-care settings

Lost dog swims Columbia River multiple times searching for home

The dog was missing from his Castlegar home for three days.

Booze on beach extended through summer in Penticton

Pilot project will stay in place until Oct. 15

COVID-19: B.C. promotes video-activated services card

Mobile app allows easier video identity verification

ICBC to resume road tests in July with priority for rebookings, health-care workers

Tests have been on hold for four months due to COVID-19

Most Read