salmon spawning

McNab Creek

Aerial view of McNab Creek Watershed
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Maximum estimated returns from 1947 to 2018 (retrieved from Department of Fisheries and Oceans, British Columbia) of Chum, Coho and Pink salmon for McNab Creek.

McNab Creek empties into Howe Sound a few kilometres northeast of the pulp mill site at Port Mellon. The known historical maximum escapements are 200 Coho, 3,500 Pink and 1,500 Chum. It is believed that McNab Creek supported much larger runs in the earlier part of the past century. McNab Creek also supports significant populations of both resident and anadromous Cutthroats.

McNab Creek has been logged extensively over the past century. In 1997 there was a plan to build a Liquefied Natural Gas storage facility on the west side of McNab Creek, drawing gas from the pipeline that runs through the northwest portion of the watershed. A Fish and Fish Habitat Inventory (1999) noted that it still contained important spawning and rearing habitat for anadromous salmonids, Cutthroat and Steelhead. Howe Sound was closed in 1963 to commercial fishing for the purposes of stock management and to preserve the sports fishery. McNab was identified as one of three more gently sloping streams on the west side of Howe Sound with a significant estuary (there being none on the east side) and therefore has significant capabilities along with the Squamish River for supporting the fishery in Howe Sound.

In 2001-03 a groundwater-fed spawning channel paralleling McNab Creek was built as part of Howe Sound Ltd Partnership’s compensation for dredging in the Rainy River. In 2002, 30 mineral claims were granted along the lower main stem of the creek. Shortly thereafter, an aggregate mining project was proposed with a production capacity of 1-1.6 million tonnes per year. This capacity triggered the participation of Fisheries & Oceans Canada in an Environmental Assessment process at the level of “Comprehensive Review”. This process will commence in the fall of 2012. Also, a private run-of-the-river project for McNab Creek was submitted to the Province in 2010. It has an expected operational date in 2013.

Recent maximum escapement data for this watershed is scarce: 300 Chum for the period 1988 to 1997, 40 Coho for the period between 1985 and 1994. Nonetheless, McNab Creek is considered a major Chum system within the Howe Sound/Sunshine Coast Area with a management escapement goal of 10,000 (2009).

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