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Few BC-born salmon returning to spawn

CANADA - Salmon returns are down significantly around British Columbia, experts say, with the number of chinook migrating to their birthplace on Vancouver Island falling by as much as 75 per cent and a "collapse" of the chum run in parts of the Squamish River watershed by up to 95 per cent.

At Canada's largest salmon hatchery - the federally run Nitinat River Hatchery on Vancouver Island - 350,000 returning chum have been counted this year compared with 725,000 in 2006.

The chum egg harvest is typically 40 million tiny, glossy orbs.

"This year we'll be lucky if we scrounge up around 15 million," Nitinat employee Glen Varney said.

Nitinat's chinook returns are also hurting, with 8,000 counted this year, down from 14,000 in 2006, said hatchery manager Rob Brouwer.

Instead of harvesting four million chinook eggs, two million will be collected in 2007.

Source: TheGlobeandMail.com

Ellen Hardy

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