In late June of 2019, there was a landslide on the Fraser River in BC, Canada. It was a tumble that spilled 1800 tons of rock into the river gorge below, narrowing one of the most significant rivers in the world and creating a six meter tall rapids waterfall.
That summer of 2019, of the projected 4.8 million sockeye that were anticipated to spawn on the Fraser River, 99% of early Stuart sockeye and 89% of early chinook salmon were lost. This not only had a heavy impact on salmon population itself, but on the surrounding eco-systems that are heavily dependent on the salmon life cycle.
By the next run in 2020, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) was determined to achieve a different outcome.
And with different outcomes comes different solutions.
Having investigated the problem first hand in 2019, We headed up to Big Bar in May of 2020. Below is a video of a Whooshh employee, navigating the rapids by boat. The struggle the boat had fighting the overpowering new strength of the Fraser River illuminated to us the desperation of the journey the salmon had been attempting to undertake.
We worked with DFO and the Yinka Dene Alliance, a coalition of six First Nations affected by the landslide, to find a solution. The solution came in a two-phased approach. The first phase was a two Migrator tube system to enable early Spring Chinook passage.
The second phase was a six Migrator tube system capable of transporting any size salmonid.
Both systems used the supplied concrete fish ladder, providing access to a Whooshh installed Steeppass, Whooshh FishL Recognition scanner, Whooshh Gatekeeper, Whooshh BurstBuster, and then to the corresponding Migrator Tube for a safe glide, transporting fish over the landslide area.
The Whooshh Passage Portal transported thousands of fish over the landslide area in under 40 seconds, requiring zero human contact and minimizing delay.
Our fish passage system has significantly cut down the time of passage and created a low-stress passage option for fish. The Whooshh FishL Recognition system is also collecting near real-time data, creating a permanent record of every fish transported over the barrier.
To date, over 125,000 fish have migrated past the landslide, in part due to the Passage Portal.