Kokanee are ‘collapsed’ in main lake but efforts will continue to ramp up in 2022: FLNRORD

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By Timothy Schafer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The main Kootenay Lake kokanee population is ‘collapsed’ but it is in no danger of disappearing, according to the province’s latest update on the state of the lake’s keystone species.
Speaking after a Kootenay Lake public meeting (online) on March 14, a spokesperson for the B.C. Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development (FLNRORD) said the main lake kokanee are collapsed — which originally happened from 2012-2015 — and “spawner” abundance since 2015 is about three per cent of the long-term historic average.
High predator abundance of Gerrard rainbow and bull trout are still the accepted culprits, the FLNRORD noted, with the kokanee currently mired in a “predator pit.”
“(H)istorically, these fish became very large when kokanee were abundant,” he explained. “Predators can remain abundant relative to their prey by growing slower and switching to supplement their diet with other items, so predators in Kootenay Lake still survive well for at least their first few years of life but are now small and skinny.”
But the fishery also attracted less effort, he said, and overall fish harvest was below pre-collapse levels, exacerbating the problem.
“This explains why predator in-lake abundance did not collapse with kokanee.”...continued.

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