Okanagan Lake Action Plan

Okanagan Lake is a large lake located in southern B.C., which historically supported a large Kokanee (Oncorhynchus nerka) population. Recently the Kokanee population has undergone a significant decline. Public and government concern for the future of Okanagan Lake Kokanee heightened during the early 1900s and led to formation of a proactive plan in 1996 called the Okanagan Lake Action Plan (OLAP). This forward-looking plan with a twenty-year time horizon attempts to address all of the physical and biological factors that influence Okanagan Lake and the Kokanee populations that inhabit it.

One of the primary objectives of the OLAP is to ensure that remaining stream habitat is protected and maintained. Key issues identified included habitat deterioration, lake nutrient reduction and competition between Kokanee and Mysis relicta. Most of the activities within the OLAP are directed at identifying fish habitat constraints, zooplankton and fish population characteristics and improving the limnological database of Okanagan Lake.

The OLAP is attempting to gain a much better understanding of whole lake biological relationships as well as defining limiting factors and remedial measures that well result in recovery of the lakes' kokanee populations. Since many species of fish in Okanagan Lake depend upon Kokanee and because Kokanee are at historic low levels there is considerable emphasis on them in the Action Plan. It has been known since the beginning of the OLAP that Kokanee recovery is key to the recovery of the other fish in Okanagan Lake. It is also apparent that Kokanee recovery is a long-term issue and not something that can be easily rectified.