North Shore Rescue works to rescue salmon trapped by rock slide

WATCH: North Shore Rescue launches an operation to save hundreds of salmon trapped by a landslide. Jill Bennett reports.

North Shore Rescue has helped save countless lives over the years but its members are set to perform one of their most unusual rescues ever. The operation is not to save a person, but hundreds of fish. as a result of a massive rock slide that happened late last year combined with low water levels and warm temperatures.

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“This year’s there’s a double whammy on the Seymour because on December 7, 2014 we experienced a rock slide,” said Shaun Hollingsworth, President of the Seymour Salmonid Society. “We believe that the rock slide is impassable by the fish as they’re heading upstream to migrate.”

Many of the boulders blocking the river are bigger than cars. On one side, the river looks more like a stagnant lake. On the other side, about 250 Coho salmon and some steelhead are cut off, trapped in a pool.

Various stakeholders including Metro Vancouver and the DFO are working on a creative way to move the fish past the slide, something that hasn’t been done before.

North Shore Rescue crews were called in to see if they could somehow find a way to reach the fish, perhaps maybe using long lines to the pool which sits at the bottom of a 60-metre canyon.

“They’re going to be put in some kind of vessel, put on the high line, and then brought out to the trail,” said Danks. “They’ll be then loaded onto an ATV. From that point, they’ll be brought to a truck and then transported further upstream.”

With the weight of the fish and the water, Danks says they will only be able to move two or three fish at a time, making the rescue very involved. And it won’t happen right away as plans are to attempt to move the fist at the end of the month or in early September.

The situation is so serious there are fears that future Seymour River Coho and steelhead runs could be wiped out if the fish don’t make it to spawn this year.

In the meantime, nets have been set up near the bottom of the river to stop any more Coho from swimming up and getting stuck.

-With files from Jill Bennett

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