A conservation group in British Columbia suspects that a chemical commonly found in car tires may be responsible for the deaths of numerous salmon in a North Shore creek near West Vancouver. The West Vancouver Streamkeepers, while monitoring Brothers Creek, observed approximately 30 dead coho salmon shortly after heavy rainfall.
Former president of the Streamkeepers, John Barker, stated that the group alerted Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) about the discovery and believes that the chemical 6PDD quinone, utilized to prevent tire cracking, could be the culprit for the salmon deaths. According to Barker, the breakdown of automobile tires during the summer, coupled with sunlight exposure, increases the toxicity of the chemical. Subsequently, it can runoff into the stream, posing a threat to coho salmon.
Remarkably, other salmon species in the creek appeared unaffected, suggesting that the chemical is less toxic to them. Barker noted that returning coho to the stream, observed shortly afterward, were unharmed, implying that the chemical was likely washed into the waterway by recent rains.
DFO research scientist Tanya Brown disclosed that Brothers Creek is among several waterways in Metro Vancouver being monitored for 6PDD quinone. While results are pending, Brown stated that research in the region indicates a potential connection between the chemical and salmon die-offs. Elevated concentrations of 6PDD quinone, especially during rain events, have been observed, raising concerns about its impact on coho salmon.
Brown expressed worry over consistently high chemical levels during rain events in local waterways, emphasizing that DFO has scheduled a meeting with West Vancouver Streamkeepers to address the issue. Barker believes that the chemical is present in products from major tire manufacturers, leaving consumers with limited options.
He advocated for the construction of more bioswales by municipalities, which are landscape features designed to absorb polluted runoff and use natural elements to filter it. Barker emphasized the urgency of addressing the issue, as the chemical, with its known toxicity, poses a significant threat to waterways during rainfall.
Source: Simon Little (Nov 9, 2023). Chemical found in tires suspected in West Vancouver death of salmon. Global News. https://globalnews.ca/news/10082602/west-vancouver-fish-kill/