Surrey salmon hatchery rebuilding after 2021 flooding
Posted February 8, 2023 11:31 am.
Last Updated February 8, 2023 11:32 am.
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.
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.
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.