Nanaimo River remains in relatively good shape

NANAIMO – Fish populations are healthy, but river still lacks large steelhead count.

The Nanaimo River is in relatively good shape, but it hasn’t been immune to change, said Gail Adrienne,  Nanaimo and Area Land Trust executive director.

The river represents one of the healthiest in the area but it isn’t as healthy as in the past, when there was lower population and it was seeing less use, Adrienne said.

World Rivers Day, which highlights the health of waterways around the globe, happens Sunday (Sept. 28).

Climate change has had an effect on all rivers, said Adrienne. Salmon and trout need cool water temperature and steelhead trout stock in the river has declined noticeably.

“Not too many generations ago, [the Nanaimo River] was a destination river for steelhead fishermen and now there are very few steelhead there … They seem to be more sensitive to water temperature changes and other impacts.

“Most rivers seem to have lost their steelhead populations,” said Adrienne, adding other fish populations are healthy.

While there is pollution in the river, the water is relatively safe, Adrienne said.

Run-off and fine particulate matter, from activities like logging, getting into the Nanaimo River is an issue but river water is regularly monitored by the land trust and the Regional District of Nanaimo, she said.

Paul Chapman, land trust volunteer coordinator, said there are no causes for concern, other than when garbage is thrown in the river.

“By and large, the results that I’ve seen from that testing show there aren’t any concerns with water quality in the Nanaimo River and Haslam Creek [tributary] as well,” he said.

Nanaimo’s parks, recreation and environment department is presenting a World Rivers Day event at Bowen Park on Sunday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information, please visit www.nanaimo.ca.