Thompson Steelhead Working Group
Steelhead are iconic of the Thompson River and region. Having long sustained First Nations people, Steelhead are also central to the region’s world-class recreational fishery. Unfortunately this salmonid species is in decline, and today Thompson Steelhead are classed as of extreme conservation concern. A new initiative is underway for a recovery and management plan.
Photo: Thompson Steelhead — catch & release fishery
About the Working Group
The Thompson Steelhead Working Group is a multi-governmental collaborative initiative formed in 2014 to bring together representatives of the Nlaka’pamux and Secwepemc First Nations, the Province of BC and the Government of Canada (Fisheries and Oceans Canada) to develop a recovery and management plan for Thompson Steelhead.
The Thompson Steelhead Working Group is now:
The five steps associated with the planning framework are to:
Thompson Steelhead Population Trends
Although the abundance of Thompson Steelhead varies year to year, populations have declined overall since the 1990s. In 2015 numbers were at a record low, with an estimated 440 fish returning to spawn. These returns were considerably less than the pre-season forecast of 1,300 spawners and in-season forecast of 850 spawners. In 2016, these numbers are again estimated to be a record low, with an estimated 380 fish returning to spawn.
Thompson Steelhead is now classed as of extreme conservation concern.
Thompson Steelhead pre-fishery abundance is shown in red above; spawner abundance is shown in blue.
The Nkala’pamux and Secwepemc First Nations are working to protect and restore the Thompson Steelhead through habitat enhancements and management agreements between the three orders of government to ensure the sustainable abundance of Steelhead for the future.
The Province of BC is also taking steps most notably through the Provincial Framework for Steelhead Management and provincial designations aimed at protecting key habitat.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada leads the annual development of the Southern BC Integrated Fisheries Management Plan.
The working group plans to coordinate efforts to support Steelhead within the Thompson region.
Learn more about:
The Fraser Basin Council serves as secretariat for the working group. You can reach the working group at:
Thompson Steelhead Working Group
Status of Steelhead: Update
The most recent estimates of Thompson River Steelhead, spawning in the spring of 2017, total 254 – the lowest spawning population estimates since monitoring began in 1978. Thompson Steelhead remain of Extreme Conservation Concern. See the report.
Working Group Update
The working group has published a brief update on its work.
A synopsis of the discussion at the Thompson Steelhead Assembly is available: see Thompson Steelhead Assembly | December 2, 2016.
Thompson River Steelhead are in decline, and action is needed. In 2016 the multi-governmental Thompson Steelhead Working Group released a draft Thompson Steelhead Recovery and Management Plan for public comment through an online survey and for discussion across multiple sectors.
In December over 80 people from First Nations, provincial, federal and local governments, sport fishing organizations, the commercial fishing sector, small business interests in Spence’s Bridge, and the agriculture, mining and forestry sectors participated in a one-day meeting to discuss the declining populations of Thompson Steelhead, share perspectives and look at opportunities for improvement under the proposed Thompson Steelhead Recovery and Management Plan.
Thanks for the Feedback
Thanks to everyone who attended the Thompson Steelhead Assembly and to members of the public who took the time to provide feedback in our online survey. Your participation makes progress possible.
Working Group Members