Wild Border Watersheds

Transboundary group wants a voice in BC mining process (KTOO)

Proposed copper mines in British Columbia have a coalition speaking out on what they say could potentially hurt salmon runs for people on both sides of the border.

Salmon navigate through their noses and that sense of smell could be in jeopardy if proposed mines are developed in British Columbia, according to Sarah O’Neal, a fisheries biologist.

“That’s what they use to find predators and prey and mates and also to find their way back to the receiving stream where they were born,” O’Neal says. “So that’s how they know how to get back to spawn is by smelling.”

O’Neal is working with the campaign, Salmon Beyond Borders, which is trying to raise public awareness about the potential impacts of proposed mines in BC. She says it doesn’t take much contact with copper for salmon to be affected.

“Experiments have shown that salmon’s ability to smell can be impacted at just two to ten parts per billion of copper,” O’Neal says. “That equates to 2 to ten drops of water in an Olympic-sized swimming pool … so, miniscule amounts.”

O’Neal says those amounts are within water quality standards and can be legally discharged. And as the amount of cooper increases, the effect on salmon does too.

“They can impair their brain function, they can impair their ability to make the transition from salt water to fresh water, you know, all different aspects which can ultimately impact their overall survival,” O’Neal says.

(To read complete source article, click "KTOO")

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