The Kitwanga sockeye stock is currently at a depressed level and at risk of collapse. The collapse of Kitwanga sockeye could lead to extinction, which should be considered irreversible. The reasons for the stock decline are not completely understood, however it is believed that over-exploitation in the commercial fishery and habitat deterioration in Gitanyow Lake are the main contributors to the stock collapse. Fishery re-constructions for the last 40 years show average exploitation rates on Kitwanga sockeye of over 50%, reaching highs of over 65% in some years. Furthermore, the Kitwanga Watershed was heavily logged beginning in the 1960’s and it is believed that both spawning and rearing areas have been negatively impacted by road building and harvesting activities.
In response to the conservation concern for Kitwanga sockeye, the Gitanyow Fisheries Authority (GFA) in co-operation with Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), the Skeena Fisheries Commission and the Province of BC have initiated a rebuilding plan to restore Kitwanga sockeye while retaining the genetic endowment of the stock. The plan identifies potential limiting factors to production and recommends recovery actions.