Adding nutrients to the Puntledge River Watershed

Project Year: 2021-2022

Multi-year Project

Photo: Courtenay and District Fish & Game Protective Association

Project Lead

Courtenay and District Fish & Game Protective Association


Coastal Region


Project Type

Habitat-Based Actions

FWCP Contribution


Action Plan Alignment

Rivers, Lakes, & Reservoirs

Project ID


Upper Puntledge River Watershed Chum Carcass Distribution: Year 2

This multi-year project will support the distribution of chum salmon carcasses from a hatchery into the upper Puntledge River Watershed. Their slow decomposition will contribute essential marine-derived nutrients and energy that will benefit the entire food web and sustain the production of fish and other salmon-dependent species within the watershed.

Update: Thousands of chum carcasses moved by volunteers

A team of volunteers from the Courtenay and District Fish and Game Protective Association collected and redistributed 4,700 chum salmon carcasses in the Puntledge River Watershed last fall. Although it’s hard work to offload thousands of large salmon carcasses, it’s a cost-effective, short-term restoration technique for transferring large amounts of nutrients to the upper watershed ecosystems.

Over a two-week period in the fall of 2021, the volunteers collected the carcasses from the Puntledge River Hatchery and transported them to nine sites in the Puntledge and Cruickshank rivers and tributaries.

Salmon carcasses play a key role in transporting marine nutrients to the aquatic and terrestrial food web, and help maintain the productivity of salmonid ecosystems. Over recent decades there has been a significant decline in the movement of salmon—and subsequently nutrients—upstream. Some studies suggest that the input of marine-derived nutrients from spawning salmon has been reduced by more than 90% of historic levels in Pacific Northwest streams.

Due to COVID restrictions, the Courtenay and District Fish and Game Protective Association were unable to partner with the K’ómoks Guardian Watchmen to mentor youth with the program last year, but plans are in place to do so this fall.