salmon spawning

Skwawka River

Aerial View of Skwawka River

Aerial View of Skwawka River

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Maximum estimated returns from 1947 to 2018 (retrieved from Department of Fisheries and Oceans, British Columbia) of Chum and Coho salmon for Skwawka River.

Maximum estimated returns from 1947 to 2018 (retrieved from Department of Fisheries and Oceans, British Columbia) of Pink salmon for Skwawka River.

The Skwawka River is at the very northern head of Jervis Inlet. According to the Strategic Land Use Plan for the shishalh Nation (Draft 2007) the entire watershed (including the xenichen town site) has extremely high cultural, spiritual and wildlife values. The Skwawka once hosted an astounding 235,000 Pink, 35,000 Chum and 15,000 Coho peak annual escapements. The most recent data (1989-98) has maximum annual peak escapements of 6,000 Pink, 25,000 Chum, and 554 Coho. In addition, a historic light run of Chinook, occasional Sockeye, a winter run of Steelhead, Cutthroat Trout, Rainbow Trout and Dolly Varden have been enumerated in the past.

Large scale industrial logging began in 1969-70 with heavy damage to salmonid habitat documented almost immediately. Inadequate road construction practices led to slides along the river and some tributaries. In 1975, extreme siltation from logging occurred as well as frequent flash flooding. Silting in the lower reaches also occurred from 1970-1982. Logging continued until fairly recently and the area is now considered to be mostly ”logged out”.

In 1983, a report based on 1977 field studies examined the decline of Chum and Pink in the Jervis-Sechelt Inlets. It recommended a spawning channel be created that could be used by Pink and by Chum in the off years. In 1985, the Salmon Enhancement Program planted 27,000 juvenile Chum. Funding from the Watershed Restoration Program identified the requirement for remedial work on the estuary and Grizzly Bear oriented riparian improvements in 1994. Five years later, extensive fish channel and riparian assessments were carried out on the main reaches of the river.

In spite of the extensive concentration of logging in this area it is still considered to have highly significant fish and fish habitat values. Some Grizzly Bear Wildlife Habitat Areas were designated in the Skwawka River’s flood plain in 2005.

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