REPORTING · 6th April 2011
The Sport Fishery Advisory Board met on Tuesday, March 29th. Their first presentation was an update on the Fish Hatchery by Marcus Feldhoff, the acting manager of the Hatchery.
“I don’t know if any of you have driven near the hatchery but there is a lot of activity going on their right now. We have various contractors on site and we are finalizing plumbing the two new wells that were drilled to the facilty. Hopefully, within a few weeks, (we’re waiting for some parts,) we’ll have access to some more well water.”
He explained they were getting ready to release the Chum Salmon in the first week of April. The chum salmon are the first to be released; timed so they are released at the same time the wild salmon leave. The rest will be released between the end of April and the 3rd week of May.
They have had 5 million Chum at the Hatchery and 2 million Chinook. Coho, take two years, the hatchery has about 300,000 from two years ago and 500,000 from last fall. The cutthroat program was cut last year, also because of the hot water. They have not decided if they are going to restart the program.
Marcus Feldhoff explained they were unable to make their numbers on the Coho and Chinook. When asked, he explained this was due to the availability of fish, what the weather was doing and how much staff was present at the time. He added there was a large wild stock in 2009.
Steelhead now take two years as well, with the hatchery losing the hot water from Eurocan. They have 30,000 left from 2010 and 50,000 from last spring. This year’s Steelheads could be the largest they have ever released. When asked about the effect of this program, he explained in a two year program, the fish stand a better chance of returning. He was unable to predict if there would be a gap year where no fish returned.
Another person pointed out on rivers without a hatchery, steelhead are catch and release only. He wanted to know if this change in the system would reduce the number of steelhead anglers can catch. Marcus Feldhoff replied the numbers of steelhead have not changed.
He was also asked if the Department of Fisheries and Oceans had ruled out all other options for hot water at the Hatchery. Marcus Feldhoff replied “yes.” They looked at Eurocan going down and the time constraints.
Al Hummel from the Rod and Gun offered the assistance of the community group to help out the Fish Hatchery in any way they can. Councillor Randy Halyk, who was present threw a motion on the floor to support DFO in re-establishing full budget to the local Hatchery. It was modified to re-establish tributaries which the hatchery used to look after which are no longer looked after.
He explained the capacity at the Hatchery needed to be completely used. It was explained there were plenty of cuts to the hatchery and they have had to cut staff. Marcus Feldhoff explained they had not had to cut staff but they have also not been able to hire on summer staff.