In 2012 a salmon health project was started in the Broughton Archipelago. Community members and sports fishermen were collecting information on the health of the salmon they were catching. This data was to be used to assess the health of different stocks of salmon within this region. During this process it became apparent that we couldn't identify what river the ocean caught fish were from. This is important as salmon from each river or region can have very specific pressures and needs as a population. There is a genetic database used in BC to find out where ocean caught salmon call home, but this database is very limited and almost nonexistent for the Broughton Archipelago and surrounding mainland. The emphasis thus far in identifying salmon at sea has been limited to rivers which support large commercially important runs. Since salmon are so specific in the rivers they use to spawn it is very important to know which salmon are from which natal stream.
We have been collecting genetic samples to fill in the holes of the genetic stock database. A more robust database then allows us to better define regional differences in salmon stocks. A better understanding of the salmon which so many of us depend on, economically and socially, allows us to make informed decisions on how best to manage salmon and their surroundings. Salmon are an integral part of the marine and terrestrial ecosystems. Salmon stocks have such specific needs that broad management decisions can have drastically negative effects on the entire ecosystem they inhabit. Should a watershed be opened for logging? Can we fish in a spot without hurting a very specific populations of salmon? Having access to the diversity of salmon can help in making these decisions.