|The impetus for the Open Bay Creek Watershed study lies in local concerns for the lack of returning Coho salmon to Open Bay Creek for the past twenty plus years, this to spite the fact that recent studies indicate that the habitat in the system is healthy and should support the production of many hundred adult Coho annually. Fall adult spawning Coho counts, escapement counts, have been conducted by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) since 1971 and the Quadra Island Salmon Enhancement Society (QISES) since 1980. Later discussions in this report will identify several early counts (1970s) of two hundred Coho, an apparent “crash” in numbers in the early/mid 1980s, and the lack of recovery to the present date. The rationale for the loss of a viable Coho population in Open Bay Creek is likely rooted in a complex set of interrelated factors, including open ocean survival, harvest, freshwater habitat issues, and climate change. Many of these factors, even individually, are highly complex and regional/global in nature. To understand and subsequently attempt to remediate most of these factors extends far beyond local capabilities. However there is one critical factor that can be effectively addressed at the local level, that being freshwater habitat. Perhaps, if a key limiting factor to production and adult return is found within the stream and/or its watershed, and subsequent remedial actions are successful, the opportunities for an overall, sustained, increase in Coho numbers can be at least enhanced. The rationale for conducting this watershed study, then, is to attempt to identify potential freshwater-related limiting factors to Coho production. The following short discussion of the interrelationship of forest ecology and fisheries resources, in this study specifically salmonid fisheries, is provided in order to bridge the upcoming discussions between health of the forests and subsequent health of the freshwater fisheries resources.|
prepared by L.M. Bowles.