Margaret Banner, a volunteer with the Juan de Fuca Salmon Restoration Society, teaches young stewards about their local watershed at the Charters River Salmon Interpretive Centre.
February 7, 2019
South Vancouver Island community and Pacific Salmon Foundation donors help major initiative move forward
VANCOUVER – A major salmon initiative will move forward this year with the help of the Pacific Salmon Foundation (PSF) and South Vancouver Island businesses and residents. The money came from PSF’s Community Salmon Program, which is funded through sales of the federal government’s Salmon Conservation Stamp and revenue from fundraising galas like the upcoming South Vancouver Island Gala Dinner & Auction on Saturday, March 9 at the Victoria Conference Centre.
Since 1981, the Sooke Salmon Enhancement Society has raised Chinook and Coho fry at the Jack Brooks Hatchery to enhance local fisheries. But, climate change and other factors have resulted in a dwindling water supply for the hatchery resulting in undue stress for the salmon and lower hatchery productivity. Thanks to a recent $95,000 PSF grant, the hatchery will move roughly 12 kilometers down the road to the site of the Charters River Salmon Interpretive Centre.
“The Juan de Fuca Salmon Restoration Society currently leases the land at the Charters River site,” said Elida Peers, volunteer administrator for the Juan de Fuca Salmon Restoration Society. “We have 1.5 hectares of land, but we don’t use all of it! Combining our educational facilities with their production operation will help increase public interest and understanding of how hatcheries work, and benefit the Sooke River by greatly increasing production capacity.”
Currently the Jack Brooks Hatchery produces about 480,000 Chinook eggs and 150,000 Coho eggs annually. The unreliable water supply at the hatchery not only limits production capacity, but also forces volunteers to release the fry earlier. The new site will allow volunteers to raise fry until they reach optimal growth before releasing them, which will increase their chances of survival. The new site is also only two kilometres from the harvesting pool in the Sooke River. So salmon eggs will avoid the long stressful ride over a series of bumpy logging roads that they currently must endure.
“The addition of the new hatchery to the Charters site is very exciting for us. It is already attracting new volunteers, primarily due to its ease of access and the beautiful setting. It is the Pacific Salmon Foundation and the many donors who give year after year that make it possible for myself and the many other volunteers throughout the province to do good works. Without these dollars, our most productive projects would not have happened,” said Wally Voles, volunteer hatchery manager for the Society.
Since 1991, PSF’s Community Salmon Program has granted $2.7 million to 361 projects in the South Vancouver Island region. Thanks to matching in-kind and financial donations from the community, the total value of those projects was actually $18.9 million.
“Fishing has been a life-long passion of mine and one of the reasons I got involved with the PSF Gala,” said Ward Bond, owner of Victoria-based Island Outfitters and volunteer for the South Vancouver dinner committee. “As a committee volunteer, I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished.
“Year after year, the Victoria dinner has grown in popularity and fundraising capacity. It was held at UVic for many years, then we moved to the Fairmont Empress. Last year we outgrew that venue, and moved to the Conference Centre with more than 400 people in attendance. Volunteer streamkeepers do the hard work necessary to keep our salmon healthy, and the dinner is a great night out that supports their efforts.”
Tickets are $125 each or $1,250 for a table of ten and can be purchased at Island Outfitters or online at www.psf.ca.
Communications Manager, Pacific Salmon Foundation
About the Pacific Salmon Foundation:
The Pacific Salmon Foundation was created in 1987 as an independent, non-governmental, charitable organization to protect, conserve and rebuild Pacific Salmon populations in British Columbia and the Yukon. The Foundation’s mission is to be the trusted voice for conservation and restoration of wild Pacific salmon and their ecosystems and works to bring salmon back stream by stream through the strategic use of resources and local communities. www.psf.ca
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