Welcome To The Seymour Salmonid Society

Seymour Salmonid Society is a non-profit organization that operates the Seymour River Fish Hatchery and Education Centre. We enhance salmon populations and encourage proper management of fisheries in the Seymour River. Our mission is to educate the public about the value of the Seymour River and the salmonids it supports as a resource for everyone living in British Columbia.



R. Sultan: I’d like to inform the House that we are ominously close to the extinction of an iconic B.C. fish famous around the world, and I refer to the steelhead of the Fraser River. These are large, up to 30 pounds; muscular, swimming up through rapids that salmon themselves are not strong enough to swim through; and somewhat quirky seagoing wild trout, much prized by anglers. If we lose them, history will not be kind to us.
Juvenile steelhead thrive in our fast, clean, fresh waters. Adults roam the Pacific and return from time to time to spawn. Catch-and-release, rod-and-reel fishing attracts anglers from all over the world. But today, wild steelhead are fighting for survival in southern British Columbia.
Steelhead monitoring only began in 1978. We count them one by one, believe it or not, in the water, wearing a snorkel and a wetsuit. I participated in one such adventurous swim of the Coquihalla, organized by our Minister of Environment.
The Thompson and Chilcotin watersheds have been home to our largest southern population. In 1989, returning Thompson River steelhead numbered over 7,000, and Chilko River steelhead, as many as 5,000. But today only a handful return to spawn — a mere 430 on the Thompson in 2016, and on the Chilko, only 134 last year. This year’s outlook is even worse — about 165 for the Thompson and only 50 for the Chilcotin. Extinction of the gene pool looms on our watch.
Provincial biologists watch and count, but these fish are a government of Canada responsibility. That’s part of the problem. To travel here from Ottawa, Fisheries staff have to travel more than 1/10 of the way around the world, and it appears that few of them actually do.
Steelhead are in trouble for several reasons beyond absentee management. Mother Nature plays a hand.
Our member for Fraser-Nicola lobbied for removal of a huge barrier that fell into the Coquihalla, and with the guidance of North Vancouver’s Shaun Hollingsworth, it is being removed.
Global warming. A blob of warm water circulating around the Pacific has disrupted the ecosystem.
Habitat destruction. In the past, our government assisted such groups as B.C. Wildlife Federation, the B.C. Federation of Drift Fishers, the B.C. Federation of Fly Fishers and the Steelhead Society of B.C. to collect donations from forestry companies and others and used that money to bolt artificial debris to the bottom of such streams as the fast-flowing Silver Creek outside Hope.
Hatchery fish befuddlement. Volunteers on the North Shore raise steelhead, which are released at the mouth of the Seymour, but most don’t get as far as Point Atkinson. Being raised in the comfort of the hatchery doesn’t seem to give them the instincts to survive in the wild, and the seals eat them for breakfast.
In my view, the most irresponsible factor currently destroying this species is regulatory, coming out of Ottawa. It is the commercial salmon fishing bycatch. On October 24, DFO opened commercial gill-net fishing for Fraser River chum salmon. Low-value chum are the only species still abundant enough to sustain a commercial fishery on the Fraser. It’s small and dominated by First Nations.
This chum gillnet harvest coincides with the Thompson and Chilko rivers migratory steelhead return. Experts estimate that as many as 50 percent of the Thompson- and Chilcotin-bound steelhead are intercepted as bycatch in the commercial net fishing.
DFO is well aware of the plight of the steelhead but continues to approve and support the commercial net fishery of chum salmon. It has been a problem talked about for years. The feds came up with a solution: the so-called Jesus box. If you catch a steelhead, you’re asked to put it into a cooled wooden box, the Jesus box, where it will miraculously come back to life. It is said that most of the steelhead were resuscitated right onto the dinner table.
So what should we do? Three things: (1) adequate funding for a science-based recovery program; (2) enhanced river guardian programs with First Nations, particularly engaging those in river mouth gillnetting; (3) suspend the gillnetting of any species when our few remaining steelhead are running and switch to kinder options, such as the fish wheel and seining.
B. Ma: I am pleased to have this opportunity to respond to the member for West Vancouver–Capilano on this very important topic.
I’d like to begin by asking a question: is a steelhead a salmon or a trout? At one time considered a trout species, steelhead have been discovered by biologists to be more closely related to the Pacific salmon than other trout. A steelhead that doesn’t decide to go into the ocean and instead sticks around in fresh water, however, is known as a rainbow trout.
If you’re more than a little confused, don’t worry. You’re not the only one. In fact, this confusion is part of the reason why it is the only one of the six Pacific salmon species that falls primarily under provincial jurisdiction, because it was once considered a freshwater trout.
Steelheads are part of the beautiful, complex, dynamic ecosystem that makes B.C. such an incredible place to live, contributing to the biodiversity that sustains life on this planet. It is of utmost importance to our economy, driving sport-fishing and serving as an important food source for First Nations and other people.
Unfortunately, humans have had a devastating effect on many of our wildlife species, and the steelhead is absolutely no exception. While species do become endangered or extinct through the natural ebb and flow of nature, human activity — in particular, development or resource extraction activities that result in the loss of habitat for wildlife and plant life — has had an accelerating effect in many ways that have had unpredictable and devastating consequences.
The loss of one species can result in the loss of many more or the overproliferation of another. We can attempt to compensate for these losses with further human intervention, but the results, unfortunately, have been also unpredictable.
The bottom line is that our activities have toppled the delicate balancing act that has been managed by Mother Earth for, arguably, billions of years. Still, we must do our best to manage the consequences of our actions, and this is why governments must work carefully to manage activities that impact species like steelheads.
Many steelhead populations have suffered significant declines in recent decades, with some now approaching extinction, as the hon. Member for West Vancouver–Capilano has already said. Or they are otherwise very reliant on ongoing hatchery production, which — again as the member for West Vancouver–Capilano has identified — is not always as successful as we would like.
The once-famed Thompson and Chilcotin river steelhead are in a state of extreme conservation concern. Our current spawning population forecast for these stocks is now 215, the lowest on record, and at risk of a complete wipe-out.
One of my constituents, Squamish Nation member Barry Cordocedo, has been working on the issue of fish habitat rehabilitation for his entire adult life. As an employee of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Barry worked in the Fisheries and Oceans enforcement branch before moving on to becoming a Fisheries and Oceans community adviser where he interacted with Indigenous and non Indigenous communities to facilitate salmon recovery plans.
Barry is now retired, but he continues to advocate for the rehabilitation of fish habitat and fish populations. In particular, he has been pushing for increased funding for this work through the federal community economic development program.
Barry emphasizes that salmon habitat and population recovery programs are important not only to the fish species but also as a part of our work towards reconciliation with First Nations.
Barry says that federal community economic development programs aimed at protecting and rehabilitating fish populations can also be used by First Nations to bring jobs to families, develop skills and capacity within their people and empower young Indigenous peoples to take control of their lives, connect with their land and bring economic prosperity to their communities.
We must preserve our biodiversity. Biodiversity is the key not only to preserving environments and wildlife in B.C. but, indeed, preservation of life across the planet. The loss of even one species because of humans has a devastating effect that cannot be measured.
Thank you to the member West Vancouver–Capilano for bringing up this extremely important topic.
R. Sultan: I thank the member for North Vancouver–Lonsdale for her helpful remarks.
On our side of the House, we have not been inactive on this file. We have for a number for years had the steelhead caucus, which I’ve been privileged to chair, along with the member for Fraser-Nicola. Other members of the caucus include the members for West Vancouver–Sea to Sky, North Vancouver–Seymour, Cariboo-Chilcotin, Cariboo North, Richmond-Steveston, Delta South, Kamloops–North Thompson, Richmond-Queensborough and others.
We have endeavoured to raise the profile of this example of why life is wonderful here in British Columbia and why it must be preserved. But it is frustrating, because it tends to get lost in the larger salmon picture, and there are questions about what we can actually do about it, or are we helpless?
Well, what we can’t control is the blob. Maybe our friends on the Green Party side will come up with some brilliant mathematical solution to the blob, but for now, it is what it is, and it’s quite harmful. There’s not much we can do about the unknown, and there are great mysteries about what the steelhead might be up to once they get into the Pacific.
The good news is that DFO — we congratulate the federal government for its investment — is building, on the way, in North Vancouver in the riding, I believe, of North Vancouver–Lonsdale, the research vessel Franklin, which is an amazingly large and very sophisticated vessel, to do fisheries research in the deep ocean. Hopefully, they’ll get some answers to what’s happening out there.
But we can control quite a bit. We can, in fact, invest in science and knowledge. We can improve the habitat, as I’ve described. We can control the hatch openings, as I have pointed out. And we can control the fishing methods and encourage the use of friendlier seining and fish wheel approaches. We can take action.
Therefore, I today ask that famous British Columbian Margaret to order her son the Prime Minister to save the steelhead.


Last week we did our last seine on the year on the lower river. We were lucky to get 30 pair of chum. We did an egg take on the beach and then took the eggs and milt to the hatchery to fertilize. The fry will be released in early spring.



“Giants Among Us – Rick Hansen and the Great White Sturgeon” is a film with a strong message of conservation and environmental awareness. Celebrate Canada’s birthday by following the incredible lifespan of a 150 year old Sturgeon in the Fraser River. Rick Hansen will be in attendance and speak as part of the introduction. World Rivers Day founder Mark Angelo will also speak.

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On June 5th and 6th, 2017 the Seymour Hatchery with help from DFO, released 44,000 coho smolts into the lower Seymour River. Watch the video of the coho leaving the truck and entering the river.

video credit: C. Rawlinson


The Seymour River radio tagging program started today. Tiny radio tags have to be surgically implanted in the coho smolts. The Rockslide monitoring program will help us determine if outgoing juveniles can survivemigration through the slide area. The program will continue over several years.

The expert fish surgeon at work #InstreamFisheriesResearch.


February 2017

After 163 mm of rain last week we still have a lot of snow. Thanks to our friends at Metro Van (who dug out the driveway) we can now drive into the hatchery.


To our members and supporters:

Looking back at 2016, it’s been a challenging yet successful year for the Seymour Salmonid Society.

Staying on track with our mission statement we educated over 1300 elementary school children and over 300 teachers and parents through our Gently Down the Seymour program. We hosted a very successful Family Fishing Day event (see photo on right) on Father’s Day at Rice Lake. An event that introduces many children and their parents to the outdoors and fishing on the North Shore. Our Open House in September was well-attended by the public. Many electing to either sign up to volunteer or join the Society as a result of their introduction to the staff and the Board of Directors at the hatchery within the beautiful watershed.

The fisheries enhancement work that was undertaken in 2016 included broodstock collection, incubation, and fry releases of coho, pink, chum, and steelhead that we have become known for by other stream-keeping groups and salmon enhancement societies. Angling was a significant contributor to broodstock collection in the early spring/summer and late fall. The addition of the fish fence in August in the lower reaches of the river was significant for being able to capture fish and move them above the slide and to the hatchery. A total of approximately 400 fish (coho and steelhead) were moved to the upper river (above the slide) to spawn naturally. Approximately 300 fish (coho, chum and steelhead) were brought to the hatchery for broodstock. 

The floating fish fence (photo left) was a big project that involved many volunteers, DFO, Metro Vancouver, and both Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Nations. All contributing in fabrication, installation and operation of the fence. We learnt a lot this year and will make minor adjustments moving forward. We are interested to see what numbers we get at the fence when it is in for the duration of next year’s run.

The major issue for the Society this year, and certainly the most challenging was fundraising and managing the Rockslide Mitigation Project. We have had to focus a great deal of our staff and volunteer time on facilitating every aspect of the project. Everything from fundraising and accounting to aiding fish passage upstream and downstream of the slide.

Work to reshaping the rockslide began in August. An opening ceremony to mark the official beginning of the project was held on August 24th and included all project supporters, funders and members of the media (photo of event below).

Contracted crews were successful in completing 7 weeks of drilling and 5 blasting events during the work window, more than previously anticipated. The Society was very satisfied with the quality and amount of work done by Global Rock Works, NHC Consultants, BGC Engineering and Apex Equipment Ltd.

We have worked very closely with and would like to thank all of our partners for their efforts in providing funding, and volunteer time, diligently helping with transporting fish. Also, for their overall support of the Society, and fish on the Seymour. In no particular order, I would like to recognize Pacific Salmon Foundation, Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation, Tsleil-Waututh Nation, Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC, Recreational Fisheries Conservation Partnership Program, Squamish Nation, Metro Vancouver, District of North Vancouver, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, The BC Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, the BC Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch, the North Van Firefighters Charity, the BC Sport fishing Guides Association, The Coho Society, The Drift Fishers of BC, The Outdoor and Recreational Council of BC, Steelhead Society of BC, Save-on Fuels, BC Institute of Technology and the Rivers Institute, and the many volunteers, without whom we could not achieve all the activities and projects that we have undertaken as stewards of the Seymour.

Progress also continued on the Seymour River Estuary project this year. The Society and Rivers Institute completed bank neutralization and stabilization work on the east bank of the estuary, on the Allied side of the bay. This phase of the project was to mitigate the erosion that was taking place. It included adding soil and gravel to the bank and placing woody debris structures in both low and high tide areas. The slope was then planted with riparian species and cedar hedges. We plan on continuing this important work in the coming years to ensure that the estuary is as fish-friendly as possible (photo left).

I would like to acknowledge the work of the members of the Board and staff for all their extra time and efforts put forward this year. It truly has been a challenging year, and I believe everyone has stepped up to the challenge and that the Society is stronger for it.

The Board suffered a great loss in September with the passing of Eric Carlisie (photo left). Eric was one of the founding members of the Society and was an incredible advocate for rivers and fish. He will be greatly missed.  I would also like to mention and thank the Directors and that have moved on from the Society over the past year. Alex Milojkovic and Danielle Allyen spent many years serving on the Board, and I wish to thank them all for their time, dedication, and efforts over the years. We have recently added new members to the Board of Directors. We are excited to welcome Graeme Budge, Thomas Jackman, Kyla Jeffery, Jen Sibbald and Brian Halabourda, we look forward to working with them.

We have had some changes to staff as well. Sasha Gale joined the staff last January, she is covering Sharee Dubowits’ (our Volunteer Co-ordinator) Maternity leave. Congratulations to Sharee on her healthy baby girl! Brian Har (our Seasonal Employee) returned this year and has been an excellent returning addition to the team. We have also had the additional support from Todd Moody (Squamish Nation) and Colin Rawlinson (Tsleil-Waututh Nation) to help at the fish fence, with stream monitoring and at the hatchery. They have been a big help with all the additional work load related to the Rockslide Project.

On behalf of the staff, and members of the Board, I would like to thank you for your support in 2016, and welcome your involvement in 2017 as we continue with fisheries enhancement on the North Shore.

We say goodbye to 2016 under many feet of snow.


The Society is in need of a new Treasurer to join our volunteer Board of Directors. The treasurer works alongside staff with budgeting and financial reporting. If you have accounting experience and are eager to help please contact us at manager@seymoursalmon.com for more information regarding the details of the position. 

New Circular Tubs

Thanks to funding from Pacific Salmon Foundation (PSF) we were able to purchase and install new circular tubs for the Seymour hatchery. This will help us with the increased capacity due to the rock slide. They look great and they are already being used by coho broodstock. 






Work began to mitigate the Seymour River rock slide on August 22nd and continued for 7 weeks before being suspended by high water flows. Work entailed roughly a week of drilling into the boulders at the downstream end of the slide, followed by a day of rock breaking. Five breaking sessions took place over the 7 weeks (to see a video of a blast go to the rockslide page). Over the last week river level rose dramatically in the river. We are looking forward to seeing (when the water levels drop) how the newly broken boulders have moved and reshaped the area with the high velocity water.

Video of the high water flowing through the slide area. Sorry for the poor quality but it gives a good idea of the water velocity through the canyon.

Eric Carlisle: 1946 to 2016

We regret to announce that Eric Carlisle passed away Sunday 25th September as a result of complications following what was anticipated to be a routine surgical procedure. Eric was one of the founding members of the Seymour Salmonid Society in 1987, and continued to serve on the board as secretary until his death. His invariably pleasant demeanor masked a true passion for fish: in addition to serving on the board of the Seymour Salmonid Society he worked with SEHAB and several other fisheries organizations. He was an expert fisherman and wrote a book on the subject titled “West Coast River Angling”: he also for a time wrote a fishing column for the Vancouver Sun. He was sometimes referred to as “Rainman” in reference to his remarkable memory: for example, it seemed he was able to recall the date, time, river conditions and many other details concerning every fish he had ever caught. He will be missed.





We have had issues as of late with poachers snagging fish below the fish fence in the lower Seymour River.The Seymour River is closed to angling from the railway bridge to the Seymour falls dam because of conservation concerns due to the rock slide. If you see people fishing on the river please call: Observe Record Report (ORR) at 1-800-465-4336 and/or Report All Poachers and Polluters (R.A.P.P.) 1-877-952-7277.

CBC Interview

Listen to Brian Smith, Hatchery Manager talk to Steven Quinn on the CBC Early Edition this morning, August 22nd.

Fry Releases in the Seymour Watershed

Last month over a 100,000 coho fry were released into habitat areas above and below the Seymour Falls Dam. Good luck little guys!


One of many off channel habitat sites.


After a lot of hard work the fish fence has been constructed and installed. Not operational yet but in place and ready to go. We plan to start catching fish mid July, some will be kept for hatchery broodstock and the rest will be moved above the rock slide to spawn naturally. THANK YOU to all the volunteers that came and spent many hours working with us on this project. Thank you to Tsleil Waututh and Squamish Nations staff for your hard work and putting up with the loud noise next to the Band office. Another big thank you to DFO staff for your technical support and guidance thus far.

Fish fence construction crew

The Vancouver Sun Article,

‘Super-historic’-scale salmon rescue making waves in North Vancouver’s Seymour River 

can be read here

To see more pictures visit our Facebook page.


A big THANK YOU to the 2016 Gently Down the Seymour Education Team for sharing their passion and expertise with over 1500 school visitors this spring! Student highlights included wearing chest waders, collecting aquatic invertebrates and feeding salmon fry.
Follow us on Instagram for more program photos @seymoursalmon.ed ‪#‎seymoursalmon‬

GDS staff 2016


Gently Down the Seymour is off to a terrific start in 2016! Students, teachers and parents from Vancouver and Burnaby classes joined us during the first week of field trips. One class was lucky enough to observe the collection of eggs and milt from winter steelhead! These grade 2 students collected an aquatic invertebrate sample from Hurry Creek to investigate further in our classroom.

GDS2 2016GDS 2016


Nature Kids BC (Vancouver Club) visited Seymour River Hatchery in February. Kids and parents discovered the salmon species supported by Seymour River Hatchery and viewed coho, steelhead and pink salmon fry in rearing ponds. A guided walk through neighbouring old growth forest to Seymour River provided the opportunity to learn how important salmon are to a forest ecosystem.

Seymour Hatchery 4, Feb 28 2016


JANUARY 19, 2016

The 2016 season is underway! We will continue to use our dedicated broodstock anglers to help bolster our stock on hand and eventually move excess above the slide. Please note that anglers are operating under Federal and Provincial scientific collection permits – there is no public retention of steelhead in the Seymour River.

Depending on river conditions, we may augment these efforts with more tangle-netting sessions. Keep an eye on your email for upcoming volunteer opportunities on the river! If you are not on our email list, you can sign up to receive all volunteer opportunities by email by filling out our volunteer form.

The floating fish fence is set to be installed in the spring of this year. The fence will be operational approximately six months

The proposed floating fence will be similar to the one pictured above

The floating fence will be similar to the one pictured above

of the year until passageway through the slide can be restored. It has the potential to provide us with high-precision stock assessment data for all migratory species in the river which will allow us to manage the Seymour more effectively.

An agreement in principle regarding a permanent mitigation method for the rockslide has been reached by Seymour Round-Table members from six levels of government including Fisheries and Oceans Canada, BC Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, Metro Vancouver, District of North Vancouver, Squamish First Nations and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations.

Northwest Hydraulic Consultants and BGC Engineering will re-shape the slide debris with scaling crews, low-velocity explosive rock-breaking and river flows. The method uses non-conventional rock breaking techniques and will require limited heavy equipment. River hydraulics will redistribute 10 000 – 20 000 m3 of material into a gradient that can be utilized by all salmon species. This method would be the safest and least disruptive to the surrounding ecosystem and will likely take between two and five years.

Our vision statement for the Seymour Rockslide Mitigation Project is

“To restore migration conditions for all species in the Seymour River that existed before the 2014 rockslide, in a safe and sustainable manner.”

This project will require a large amount of funding. We have applied to a number of grants to help assist us in this matter. To donate directly to the rockslide mitigation efforts, please click the Fundraise for the Rockslide button on the right-hand side of this page.

Our next step is to host a public forum. Details will be posted here once they have been confirmed.


On December 7, 2014, a rock fall estimated at 50,000 cubic meters, impacted the Seymour River, at a location at the upstream end of the lower canyon. The debris field from this slide raised the water level in the river some 10 meters creating

Photo credit: Simon Ager

Seymour Rockslide – Photo credit: Simon Ager

a blockage to downstream-migrating juveniles and upstream-migrating adult salmon. The upper Seymour River, above the rock fall, contains the large majority of the productive salmon habitat in the watershed, and therefore there are justified concerns about the health of the Seymour River salmon run in coming years, if migration past the rock fall is not restored. In fact, coho and steelhead could be reduced to remnant populations by as early as 2019 if we are unable to mitigate the effects of the slide.

To scientifically confirm whether or not fish are able to pass through the debris, juvenile steelhead were acoustically tagged and adult coho and steelhead were radio tagged. Pacific Salmon Foundation, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, BC Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, UBC, Kintama & Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC contributed emergency funding and equipment for the tagging programs. Receivers were placed at both the downstream and upstream end of the slide and mobile trackers were deployed. To date no fish have been detected by fixed or mobile receivers.

Snorkel surveys conducted in July of 2015 confirmed that a number of fish were holding in two pools directly below the slide debris.

Photo Credit Brian Har

PVC Trap – Photo Credit Brian Har

Fisheries and Oceans Canada is working in partnership with the Seymour Salmonid  Society, Metro Vancouver, Squamish Nation, Tsleil Waututh Nation and North Vancouver District, to attempt an emergency rescue effort to capture returning salmon in the lower Seymour  River. Salmon recovered from these efforts will be placed in transport tanks and  transported to the Seymour River Hatchery until target broodstock numbers are achieved. Surplus fish will be released directly into the upper Seymour River, above the slide and below the dam.

Initially, a PVC and net trap was set up in the lower river adjacent to the Squamish Nation Band Office. High-water events due to summer storms thwarted these methods and hoop nets and seine

Photo credit: Brian Har

Hoop Net – Photo credit: Brian Har

nets were quickly put to use. These methods proved highly successful for pinks, but staff was forced to adapt once again for coho and steelhead. Tangle nets and angling is currently being used to capture fish out of the lower river with good success.

All 2015 in-river work is done with hand labour and does not require heavy machinery access this season. Vehicle access in close proximity to the river bank near the capture sites may be necessary, given that all trap materials and captured salmon must be moved by hand from and to transport vehicles. Captured salmon will be moved by field crews to the transport tanks daily depending on capture success in the river trap.

Seymour Salmon Society Fish Rescue - Sombilon Photography-54

Tangle Net – Photo credit: Sombilon Photography for PSF