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Thompson Steelhead Working Group

Update! November 2018

Recovery Potential Assessment Completed

The Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat has published a Science Advisory Board Report called Recovery Potential Assessment for Chilcotin River and Thompson River Steelhead Trout Designatable Units in response to the recommendation by COSEWIC that Interior Fraser Steelhead be listed as endangered.

The assessment summary (pages 2-3) concludes:

“Given the declining and very low abundances of both the Thompson and Chilcotin Steelhead DUs, any harm will inhibit or delay potential recovery and potentially result in further declines in abundance. Allowable harm should not be permitted to exceed current levels and should be reduced to the maximum extent possible. Preventing and mitigating habitat destruction, restoring damaged habitat, and reducing exploitation rates, to the extent possible, are immediate actions that will increase the likelihood that allowable harm will not exceed current levels and promote recovery if productivity increases.”

Read the report.

September 2018

DFO Invites Consultation on Potential Emergency SARA Listing of Thompson and Chilcotin Steelhead

On February 13, 2018 the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) concluded that two populations of sea‐going Steelhead Trout breeding in the Thompson and Chilcotin river systems in British Columbia were at imminent risk of extinction. Both populations were assessed as Endangered, and COSEWIC has recommended an emergency listing order under the federal Species at Risk Act.: see 2018 COSEWIC Listing.

On September 18 Fisheries and Oceans Canada announced consultations respecting potential listings for Thompson and Chilcotin Steelhead Trout under the federal Species at Risk Act. The consultations follow on a COSWIC assessment of these populations as Endangered and a recommendation for an emergency listing.

Learn more about the consultations.


About the Thompson Steelhead 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:

  • Identifying common objectives for Steelhead
  • Developing a planning framework to address recovery and management of Thompson Steelhead
  • Creating terms of reference for a Thompson Steelhead Committee.

 The five steps associated with the planning framework are to:

  1. Identify proposed planning priorities (biological, management)
  2. Identify resource management options
  3. Identify biological, social and economic performance indicators
  4. Assess the likely impacts of each resource management option
  5. Recommend preferred management options.

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 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. The numbers have continued to fall. In 2016, there was an estimated 380 fish returning to spawn and in 2017 an estimated 290. In 2017, the spawning population forecast for the Thompson watershed is 177 and the current spawning population forecast for the Chilcotin watershed is 58.


Thompson Steelhead pre-fishery abundance is shown in red above; spawner abundance is shown in blue: 1984-2016.

2018 Update: COSEWIC Listing

On February 13, 2018  the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) concluded that two populations of sea‐going Steelhead Trout breeding in BC's Thompson and Chilcotin river systems (Oncorhynchus mykiss, TRS and CRS respectively) are at imminent risk of extinction.

Both populations were assessed as Endangered, and COSEWIC recommended an emergency listing order under the federal Species at Risk Act. A mere 177 fish returned from the sea to the Thompson River in late fall 2017, and only 58 returned to the Chilcotin River. This is an all‐time low since records began in 1978, and the endpoints of downward trends that started over a decade ago. The main threats include inadvertent bycatch of adults by net fisheries targeting Pacific salmon and poor ocean conditions.C

COSEWIC has asked Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change to issue emergency listings of these populations as Endangered.


Steelhead Management Initiative

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

Learn more about:

Contact Us

The Fraser Basin Council serves as secretariat for the working group. You can reach the working group at:

Thompson Steelhead Working Group
c/o Terry Robert, Director, Special Projects


Our Vision

Social well-being supported by a vibrant economy and sustained by a healthy environment.

About the Fraser Basin Council

The Fraser Basin Council (FBC) is a charitable non-profit organization that brings people together to advance sustainability in the Fraser River Basin and throughout BC. Established in 1997, FBC is a collaboration of four orders of government (federal, provincial, local and First Nations) along with those from the private sector and civil society. We work with people in multiple sectors, helping them find collaborative solutions to today’s issues through a commitment to the social, economic and environmental dimensions of sustainability. Our focus is on healthy water and watersheds, action on climate change and air quality and strong, resilient communities and regions.

FBC Project and
Partner Sites

Plug in BC:


ReTooling for Climate Change:

FBC Youth:

Climate Action Toolkit: 

Salmon-Safe BC

Contact Us

FBC has offices in Vancouver, Kamloops, Williams Lake and Prince George. We also have staff located in Abbotsford and Vernon.

To reach us, see FBC Offices and FBC Staff.

Our main office is:

Fraser Basin Council
1st Floor, 470 Granville Street
Vancouver, BC V6C 1V5

T: 604 488-5350
F: 604 488-5351

We are grateful at the Fraser Basin Council Society to live and work on the unceded ancestral
territories of the Indigenous Nations of British Columbia.