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REPORTING · 24th July 2010
Walter McFarlane
Council met on July 12th for a Committee of the Whole meeting. There were two presentations. The first was Mel Kotyk, the Regional Manager of the Department of Fisheries of Oceans. He spoke on the future of the Kitimat Hatchery.

“The Kitimat Hatchery has had a long term relationship with the Eurocan Pulp and Paper Mill. The Mill through its processes generates a lot of hot water through the production of Pulp and Paper. Under its waste Management permit, it’s only allowed to discharge a certain amount back into the rivers. As a condition of its waste management program, it had excess water that it had to do something with, and so what we did, when we built the hatchery, was to take that excess hot water and use it for a variety of purposes. We used it to heat our building, we used it to heat up some water for incubating fish, we used it for de-icing some of our intake screens and so on,” said Kotyk.

The hatchery paid $70,000 dollars a year for this service. The hatchery was designed around these uses and the recent shut down of Eurocan has impacted the hatchery. There are four different species of fish raised at the Hatchery; Chum, Chinook, Coho and Steelhead. Each of the species has a different need. The hatchery has two sources of water, the river and well water. They used the hot water to heat the well water to allow the fish to grow quickly and released larger. This worked for the steel head which are more expensive to keep.

They have hired consultants to determine how to deal with this impact. The consultants came up with some options which included; do nothing, or replace the hot water to the facility. They have found the well water is still warm enough to raise the Coho, Chinook and Chum species of fish. The hatchery does not know what effect the well water has on the Steelhead.

One option would be to do nothing and see what happens. They could grow at the same rate and be released at the same size. Another option is to hold onto some the steelhead for another year and release them at a larger size.

As for de icing the intakes, Kotyk said it takes longer with the 8 degree water from the well than 40 degree water from Eurocan. The heating of the building has been dealt with through the use of propane furnaces. The hatchery applied to the Federal Economic Action Plan for money, which they received. Almost $700,000 will be applied to the drilling of two extra wells and the installation of the furnaces. In addition, they used their capital money to resurface the raceways. The hatchery estimated they have made $3.5 million worth of improvements to the Hatchery.

Kotyk’s message was: “There was an impact to the loss of the hot water from the Eurocan Mill, we looked at it, a plan was developed, we put in the furnaces, we’re putting in some extra wells, and we’re talking with the province about the steelhead. […] So we’ve developed a plan, secured the dollars for the implementation of this and so I think as far as we’re concerned, everything is moving along quite nicely. The Kitimat Hatchery is considered a major facility in the Salmon enhancement program. It is a key facility for the North coast, it is an important one for us, and it is a cornerstone piece in the Northwest for us.”

Monaghan wanted to know if the wells were dug. Kotyk said they were not dug yet. She wondered if they could try taping into the Animal Shelter’s well as they had a lot of water. Council asked further questions about the revenue the Hatchery received from the fish, the value of fish themselves, the fisherman and the relationship of the fish to predators. For the latter question, Kotyk explained they were experimenting with the two options to see what happens with the fish this year. He added no other hatchery had the advantage Kitimat had with the hot water and they do just fine.

Goffinet wanted to know the ratio of fish produced in hatcheries to fish produced in the wild; 6,000,000 were produced in the Hatchery. Kotyk replied; the numbers produced in the wild were far less then what were raised in the hatchery.