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British Columbia No end date in sight for Fraser River salmon rescue, officials working at Big Bar landslide say

Officials with Fisheries and Oceans Canada and members of the B.C. Wildfire Service move salmon in a temporary holding pen on the Fraser River before being transported with a helicopter past a massive rock slide, near Big Bar, west of Clinton, on July 24, 2019.

DARRYL DYCK/The Canadian Press

Officials working at a landslide in northwestern British Columbia say they don’t know how long efforts to rescue spawning salmon will take on the Fraser River.

Al Magnan, who is the incident commander with the federal government, says the main goal is to create a fish passage and crews are still working on it.

The slide in late June at Big Bar, northwest of Kamloops, created a five-metre waterfall and is blocking the majority of hundreds of thousands of chinook salmon from migrating upstream to spawn.

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Corino Salomi, the environmental unit lead for the federal government, says crews are moving rocks and boulders to create passageways for the fish.

He says they are using portable hydraulic rams and airbags, chippers, drills and small, low velocity explosives to further break the rocks and create the passageways.

Mr. Salomi says the team is also considering building a road around the slide so fish can be transported in trucks.

So far, the fish have primarily been transported by helicopters with more than 14,000 fish moved.

Officials have a tight timeline to implement solutions to the problem as more fish are expected to arrive this month, including a million or more sockeye salmon.

Several salmon species migrate along the Fraser River, including chinook, sockeye, coho and pink.

“Saving the salmon is of foremost importance because this incident has the potential to directly or indirectly impact everyone in B.C. including the ecosystem and other species dependent on the salmon survival,” said Greg Witzky of the Fraser River Aboriginal Fisheries Secretariat and the incident commander for First Nations’ governments.

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