Landslide affects up to 100,000 spawning salmon off British Columbia coast

Extor river landslide
Massive landslides will stop salmon running on the Ecstall River.
Courtesy Skinner Wildlife Conservation Trust

This year, a huge natural landmass in the Ecstall River in western Canada is affecting the flow of the river and potentially hindering the entry of countless salmon to run and breed their species.

The Eckstal River is an important part of the Skina River drainage system widely advertised by coastal anglers in British Columbia, not far from Ketchikan, Alaska’s southernmost point.

“Basically an entire side of a mountain collapsed into the upper reaches of the Ecstall River and caused a massive landslide halfway down the valley,” said Greg Knox, executive director of the SkeenaWild Conservation Trust. Prince Rupert North View September 20. “So it removed the entire upper part of the valley.”

Ecstall supplies water to the Skina River near the Pacific Ocean, about 20 miles southeast of Prince Rupert, British Columbia

Landslides occur in rugged coastal areas, inaccessible and uninhabited. Drones flew over the area to check rivers and salmon spawning. Knox told Northern View that Stan Walker, along with the government’s Fisheries and Oceans Canada, flew a drone over the area to check for salmon, spotted the landside and recorded its damage.

Silt, sediment, rocks, wood and other debris washed into the upper Exto River, possibly covering salmon, rainbow trout, trout and char eggs, suffocating them to death. This could drastically reduce the successful spawning of these and other species.

Knox said as many as 100,000 fish could be affected by the landslide, with little to no effect of altering the natural event.

“This is really just an assessment of possible impacts, and long-term monitoring is needed to understand how fish populations adapt over time,” Knox said. “It can take years or even decades for the system to re-stabilize. The salmon will adapt, it’s just how long it will take.

“There are some important tributaries in the lower Extole River where the salmon are plentiful. So hopefully they haven’t been affected.”

Leave a Comment