Surrey salmon hatchery rebuilding after 2021 flooding

The Semiahmoo Fish and Game Club revealing the details of its new salmon hatchery on Tuesday. As Sarah Chew reports, it’s on higher ground than one that was washed out by flooding last year, and resulted in the loss of 30,000 salmon eggs.

By Sarah Chew

A fish and game club in Surrey is rebuilding after losing 30,000 salmon eggs in the 2021 flooding that hit B.C.

The Semiahmoo Fish and Game Club off of 184 Street saw the flooding sweep over acres of its land, killing the power supply sustaining the fish inside of the building.

“Like a knife in the heart,” Hatchery Manager Roger McRurie told CityNews.

“You know, you’ve done all that hard work to raise them, and you spent hours and hours at the fish fence throwing fish over the fence and counting them, and the work that has gone into raising them…It’s almost like your pets.”

The club has decided to create a new home for its fish operations, which is expected to be completed in 2026. The purpose of the new hatchery will be to continue what the hatchery has done for 40 years: help conserve the local salmon population.

The Little Campbell River at the Semiahmoo Fish and Game Club in Surrey

The Semiahmoo Fish and Game Club in Surrey is looking to rebuild after over 30,000 salmon eggs were wiped out in B.C’s 2021 flooding. (CityNews Image)

Diana Barkley, president of the hatchery, says it’s quite the process to bulk up the population of the fish.

“We actually take some really healthy salmon and we collect their eggs. We fertilize [the] eggs, we put them in our incubation room until they get to be a certain size, and then we put them in our tanks inside the hatchery building and we feed them until they’re big enough to be released back into the river,” she said.

Diana Barkley feeding fish at the Semiahmoo Fish and Game Club in Surrey

Diana Barkley feeding fish at the Semiahmoo Fish and Game Club in Surrey, which is looking to rebuild after being wiped out in B.C.’s 2021 flooding. (CityNews Image)

But an environmental expert says when it comes to solving the province’s declining salmon stock, hatcheries aren’t enough.

“They’re a Band-Aid sort of targeted intervention when a stock is really depleted,” said Tara Ivanochko, UBC professor of earth, ocean and atmospheric sciences. “But they shouldn’t be seen as the way that we proceed in the long term where we’re providing these hatched fish that will then go in and intermingle with the wild stocks.”

Ivanochko says she’s looking forward to how the B.C. government will come through on its commitment to protecting 30 per cent of land mass by 2030.

The Semiahmoo club, however, has smaller fish to fry. McRurie says the new hatchery will help them bring salmon levels back up in the Little Campbell River.

“Historically, if a river floods out or washes out, they lose that year of salmon or the fry. But salmon are very resilient. And they’ll come back,” he said.

Top Stories

Top Stories

Most Watched Today