A security breach involving tampering with outside valves at the Duck Lake Hatchery in Powell River has cost the lives of approximately 700,000 juvenile chum salmon. Local residents have responded with outrage and support, and Ed Oldfield, president of the Powell River Salmon Society, says not to think of this a doom-and-gloom situation but as a true testament as to how one community is working together toward a common goal.
“Our best security is our education program, and we are trying to build a culture where the people of Powell River value what we do. The community engagement here has been tremendous,” said Oldfield.
The Tla’amin Nation offered to help to restock the loss with a transfer of 200,00 eggs to the Society. Unfortunately, by the time arrangements for a transfer could be made, the eggs had started to hatch and could not be moved.
“About 75% of our fish spawn naturally. So, we are really looking at a loss of 90% of about 25% of Lang Creek’s chum for 2018,” Oldfield said. “The total impact won’t be known until the returning fish are counted in four year’s time.”
Built in 1981, the Duck Lake Hatchery is located 10 km from tidal waters on Lang Creek. The site’s primary function is to incubate and raise juvenile salmon as well as to imprint them prior to release. The Powell River Salmon Society produces approximately 275,000 coho, 750,000 chum, and 920,000 Chinook annually.
Anyone with information on this crime is asked to contact the Powell River RCMP or Crimestoppers at 1-800-222- TIPS (8477) or go online at www.bccrimestoppers.com.
Callers will remain anonymous.
Allison Bligh is Island Fisherman Magazine’s Enhancement & Hatchery Reporter.
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