This is my first round of research for this cycle and I'm really excited to share this project with you guys. My inquiry question is: How can I promote stewardship of the Hoy Creek Hatchery in my community?
For this round of research, I'll explain the importance and numerous functions of salmon hatcheries to contextualize my topic, talk about my involvement with the Hoy Scott Watershed Society, and go over what exactly happens at my hatchery.
There are many benefits to a community by having a salmon hatchery. One of British Columbia's most important natural resources (a subject I will explore later on in my research), salmon have been part of Canada's heritage for centuries. (1) As industrialism grows steadily, there develops an increasing need for fish farms to cater to an enormous public demand for salmon as a food source, an industry referred to as aquaculture. The global production of farmed salmon has increased from 27 000 to over 1 million metric tons within the last two decades alone! (2) British Columbia's aquaculture industry generates a substantial $1.5 billion a year. (3)
Consequently, many farms raise salmon for the sole purpose of commercialism, raising the salmon to grow as large as possible. Hatcheries also raise fish, but there is a significant difference; they do it to promote a healthier, more abundant population of wild salmon. This is why hatcheries are often referred to as Salmonoid Enhancement Programs. (4) However, aside from this principal function of hatcheries, there are many others. In the lower mainland/Fraser river area, there are many local hatcheries, all serving different functions within their communities.
Some other functions of hatcheries include:
Habitat restoration: a lot of hatcheries, also place a focus on not only promoting healthy salmon populations, but promoting a healthy ecosystem surrounding them. Often, hatcheries will organize events for trail maintenance, invasive species regulation, and tree planting.
Community stewardship: part of the role of a successful hatchery is to promote it within the community. Inducing environmental self-consciousness is beneficial for everyone in a community, and providing volunteer opportunities is a great way for people to get involved with a good cause and learn about the ecosystem surrounding them. (4)
The Hoy Creek Hatchery is one who's main focus is community stewardship. However, alongside that, we raise and release approximately 5000 coho salmon every May. At the hatchery, there are two main seasons; from October-December, and from April-May. From October to December, Coho and Chum salmon are beginning to reappear in the creek to spawn, the last phase of their life cycle. The duty of the hatchery is to catch specimens of salmon to then breed and incubate. During this period, we go to different places along the creek and end up catching around 20-25 salmon. The salmon eggs aren't incubated until December, and there begins their 18-month development until their release in May of the following year. In April-May, that's when the hatchery releases the 5000 Coho fry into the wild.
I have volunteered with the hatchery for about half a year thus far, and am really enjoying it. I've learned a lot about salmon and the specifics of maintaining a hatchery. The reason why I'm doing this project is to increase the awareness about it and hopefully help its mission of community stewardship.
That's all for this round of research. Next cycle, I'm going to focus more on the actual salmon, but then talk about public events that the hatchery hosts!
Let me know what you think below.