Special contribution from the Syilx Okanagan Nation Alliance
If you had been down to q̓awsitkw (Okanagan River) over the month of October, you may have noticed many of the waters thick and red with sockeye salmon. These salmon are a result of the Okanagan Nation Alliance’s (ONA) Skaha Sockeye Reintroduction program, which is reintroducing sc’win (Okanagan sockeye) back to their historic range, which includes t’iwcən (Skaha) Lake and kłusənitkw (Okanagan) Lakes. Since 2004, ONA has stocked t’iwcən and kłusənitkw with hatchery reared fry and monitored their growth, survival, and impacts on Kokanee populations. From 2014 forward ONA has been rearing the fry in their kł cp̓əlk stim̓ Hatchery, and this highly successful return represents the first return of these fry.
An Exceptional Year for Broodstock
Results so far have been very promising; the program has been a success story, with this year’s returns one of the highest to date. ONA harvested 42 million sockeye spawners this fall to return to the q̓awsitkw and Penticton channel, based on recent tag information collected at the Road 18 PIT array upstream of suẁiws (Osoyoos) Lake. As part of the continued efforts of the Sockeye Reintroduction Program, ONA has been seining and collecting eggs and milt from adult Sockeye for rearing and release into t’iwcən. Based on forecasts, the ONA fisheries are expected to reach their 5 million egg target this fall, for the restoration of sockeye to the Okanagan and Upper Columbia salmon reintroduction program led by the ONA.
- Alongside the reintroduction of sc'win back to the Nation, ONA are also dedicated to revitalizing a whole multi-species fishery throughout the territory.
- Working with rainbow trout at Pennask Lake we coordinated distribution with all member communities 4,800 were communally harvested and distributed
- We are currently conducting studies into Whatshan River for the reintroduction of chinook, steelhead, bulltrout and possibly sockeye fisheries for future needs into the Upper Columbia
- From this OKIB and ONA took 25 adult kokanee for FSC distribution on September 13, 2018
Not only do these returns showcase a highly successful case study in ecological restoration, they also clearly illustrate the success of restoration efforts in promoting and reinvigorating traditional Syilx food systems - indigenous food sovereignty. sc’win were and continue to be central to Syilx peoples and such returns enable for the Syilx Okanagan Nation to manage and steward their lands and waters.
For more information:
Howie Wright, ONA Fisheries Program Manager Email: