Senior levels of government have hooked up to reel in funding for improvements to support wild salmon in the Salish Sea at a hatchery in Sooke.
The federal and provincial governments announced on Aug. 8 that the British Columbia Salmon Restoration and Innovation Fund is providing $920,000 to the Juan de Fuca Salmon Restoration Society for the project, which is scheduled for completion in March 2022.
The newly designed and enhanced facility will lead to the potential for better salmon stock assessment capability at Sooke River Jack Brooks Hatchery. The project will feature upgraded effluent treatment equipment, reduced power consumption and community engagement to protect wild salmon. The facility will be owned and operated by the Juan de Fuca Salmon Restoration Society, in partnership with the Sooke Salmon Enhancement Society.
The main components of the project are comprised of equipment to support the marking of hatchery fry to aid in identifying them in later stages of life. That will provide valuable scientific information to support the management and restoration of Pacific salmon. An effective aeration system customized for community-run hatcheries will be installed to ensure oxygen and nitrogen levels remain optimal for the holding of broodstock, which are mature salmon used in aquaculture for breeding purposes. The new aeration system is designed at a smaller, cost-effective, efficient scale than commercially developed systems. The effluent treatment system will ensure only clean water leaves the hatchery.
The project will also include strategies, methodology and cost-effective procedures for other hatcheries to follow in order to meet expanded requirements. There will be cross-cultural learning opportunities for volunteer stewards, as well as Indigenous and academic partners.
Lana Popham, B.C. Minister of Agriculture, said in a statement that the improvements to the hatchery recognize the important role wild salmon play in ecosystems and communities, and the efforts of volunteers devoted to helping salmon populations recover. “When people see salmon fry in the hatchery and fish swimming in the river, it helps them connect with the importance and value these remarkable fish bring to our province and oceans,” Popham noted. “I’m proud of our government’s investment in this project.”
Elida Peers, secretary-treasurer for the Juan de Fuca Salmon Restoration Society, said the facility will stand as a testament demonstrating the environmental legacy that can be produced when government funding and dedicated volunteers join forces to protect Pacific salmon.
The federal and provincial governments partnered in 2019 to help restore salmon habitats through the British Columbia Salmon Restoration and Innovation Fund. The $143 million cost-shared fund targets salmon habitat restoration and protection, and ensures the province’s seafood and fish sector are positioned for long-term economic and environmental sustainability. About 40 projects have been supported through an investment of about $70 million so far.
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