Aerial View of Southgate River
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Maximum estimated returns from 1935 to 2018 (retrieved from Department of Fisheries and Oceans, British Columbia) of Chinook and Coho salmon species for Southgate River.
Maximum estimated returns from 1935 to 2018 (retrieved from Department of Fisheries and Oceans, British Columbia) of Chum salmon for Southgate River.
Maximum estimated returns from 1935 to 2018 (retrieved from Department of Fisheries and Oceans, British Columbia) of Pink salmon for Southgate River
The Southgate River is one of three major watersheds emptying into the head of Bute Inlet in the northernmost part of the Sunshine Coast Forest District. The Southgate River has spectacular wildlife values and had peak historical escapements of 7,500 Coho, 7,500 Pink, 250,000 Chum, 15,000 Chinook and 1,500 Steelhead. Accurate counts are difficult due to glacial conditions. Logging occurred from at least the late 60s to late 70s. The commercial gill net Chum fishery in Bute Inlet ended in the late 80s as that population declined. A Watershed Restoration Program proposal (1994) indicated that the river required remedial works to the estuary and riparian improvements for Grizzly Bears. A fish and fish habitat inventory (1998) confirmed the presence of the blue-listed Bull Trout, Dolly Varden, Bull Trout/Dolly Varden hybrids, and Cutthroat Trout. A 2001 report noted good spawning and rearing habitat for salmon, char and trout species throughout much of the accessible 74km main stem and lower reaches of the tributaries.
The most recent readily available peak escapements are 850 Coho (1989-98), 60,000 Pink and 175,000 Chum (1990-2000). In 2004, the winter run of Steelhead was described as an extreme conservation concern. The Southgate is still (2009) considered one of the three major Chum productions systems in the Loughbourough to Bute Inlet Management Area.
In 2009, a report noted the world-class nature of the Cutthroat and Bull Trout recreational fishery and identified concern with the proposed private run-of-the-river hydroelectric projects in the area. In their Statement of Intent, filed with the BC Treaty Commission, the Homalco First Nation ((Wxemalhkwu) identified Bute Inlet and its watersheds as part of their traditional territory. A confidential Impact Benefit Agreement, which establishes a framework under which both the Homalco and an independent power producer work together to advance hydroelectric opportunities within the territory, was reached in 2011.