Other scientific references to the importance of Flora Bank
Skeena sockeye and pinks are two of the stocks using Flora Bank. Recent studies have refined and confirmed that all Skeena salmon species use Flora Bank and area and they number in the millions but the importance of Flora Bank area was known long ago!
The Skeena Estuary: Status of Environmental Knowledge to 1975- Lindsay M. Hoos (Kelson 2011 study refers to Hoos below)
Pink salmon migrate to the estuary immediately upon hatching in May where they move out into shallow estuary channels, along the beaches and sandbanks of Flora and De Horsey banks (Hoos, 1975).
Sockeye seaward migration takes place from April to June, peaking in Mid-May. Upon reaching the estuary the majority stay right in the river mouth, or on Flora Bank near Kitson Island where they remain for a few weeks to a month (Hoos, 1975).
Flora Bank is described as habitat of critical importance for the rearing of juvenile salmon by the Department of the Environment- Fisheries Service 1973; A Biological Assessment of Fish Utilization of the Skeena River Estuary, with a special reference to Port Development in Prince Rupert- R. J. Higgins and W. J. Schouwenburg concluded: “…The shallow estuarine areas between Porpoise Channel and the mouth of the Skeena River are of high biological significance as a fish (especially of juvenile salmon) rearing habitat. Inverness Passage, Flora Bank and De Horsey Bank, in that order, are habitat of critical importance for the rearing of juvenile salmon.”
Below are some other references to the 1975 Hoos Report and another major work on the importance of Flora Bank, from 1973. There is also a reference to importance of eelgrass from US EPA.
A study of The Skeena Estuary (Hoos, 1975) refers to a 1972 Fisheries Service study that estimated Flora Bank supports 50-60% of the total eelgrass in the estuary.
In the US the EPA has designated eelgrass beds as “special aquatic sites” pursuant to section 404(b)(1) of the Federal Clean Water Act, due to their important role in the marine ecosystem. They are subject to greater protection than other waters because of their significant contribution to the overall environment. Proponents are required to look for an alternative site where the proposed activity could be conducted without endangering the Special Aquatic Site and use it instead or justify why the proposed activity can only be performed at or near the Special Aquatic Site. (OREVT1SAS.doc)