As you are aware, Terminal Creek Salmon Hatchery operations ceased for the summer after the last of the coho fry were released at Coho Bon Voyage on June 1st. BIFWC volunteers had a very busy season and this update highlights some of the achievements:
Terminal Creek Salmon Hatchery Production
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) provides funding to the BIFWC through their well established salmon enhancement Public Involvement Program. This funding pays for hatchery equipment maintenance, fish food, utility expenses, volunteer insurance, and volunteer training.
Under DFO’s guidance, between late November and June 1st we incubated and released 50,000 pink, 170,000 chum, and 20,000 coho salmon into the ocean and Bowen Island streams. We did experience higher than usual pink and chum egg losses because of high sediment in Carter Pond being swept into the hatchery water supply. Heavy sediment and mud reduces the amount of oxygen in the water for eggs and fry to breath. Roger Milsted and Bill Keller did a fantastic job identifying the problem immediately and rescuing about half of the pink eggs and almost all of the chum eggs. Subsequently, we applied to the Pacific Salmon Foundation for funding to remove sediment from Carter Pond – the funding request has been approved and the work will be completed in August, weather permitting.
Seven BIFWC volunteers have completed the Pacific Streamkeepers Federation course. We regularly monitor the health of Bowen streams, such as Terminal, Killarney, Davies, and Explosives Creeks, and do surveys to record the number of returning salmon spawners during October to January every year. Unfortunately, the winter of 2014 – 15 saw few spawners returning to the Lagoon and Bowen streams. The good news is that our streams are very healthy for fish and, when populations are restored, salmon will find excellent spawning habitat on Bowen Island.
Habitat Rehabilitation Projects
With the help of DFO and funding from the Pacific Salmon Foundation, BIFWC volunteers are managing two significant projects in 2014. As mentioned earlier, Alan Whitehead and BIFWC volunteers will be removing sediment from Carter Pond, the hatcheries water supply intake, in August.
In addition, on the weekend of May 3/4 we completed most of the Explosives Creek – Tunstall Beach Habitat Rehabilitation Project, which consisted of five components designed to allow salmon to access 500 metres of excellent spawning habitat in Explosives Creek:
- Removing sediment from the Explosives Creek climbing pools
- Constructing a chum spawning area between the climbing pools and Tunstall beach
- Creating a self-scouring channel across Tunstall beach to the ocean
- Repairing and reinforcing the eroding Tunstall foreshore bank, and
- Placing unobtrusive fencing & signage, as well as replanting, to protect important hillside fisheries habitat from further damage and erosion.
These two Bowen Island habitat rehabilitation projects are funded by the Pacific Salmon Foundation on the understanding that the funding they provide will be matched or exceeded through volunteer labour and in-kind contributions. The total value of the Explosives – Tunstall project is about $24,000 and the Carter Pond project $12,500. Excellent value for a good cause.
Working With Local Schools and Bowen Families
The activity that provides BIFWC volunteers the most enjoyment and positive feedback is helping Bowen Island schools educate their students about the importance of wild salmon and fish habitat. DFO have a number of salmon educational tools and programs as part of their Salmon Enhancement Program, which has been in place since the 1980s. Throughout the year we gave hatchery tours to students and worked with all Bowen schools; Bowen Island Community School who we assist their own aquarium salmonid program and gave hatchery tours, Island Discovery Learning Community who hold classes in the Forest Classroom at the hatchery, and Island Pacific School who do several streamkeeping modules in Terminal Creek each year. Mike von Zuben and I also gave tours to several off-island schools, including a group from Ontario, whose students were exploring Crippen Park and wanted to learn about salmon.
Coho Bon Voyage was a huge success this year with over 400 children and their parents, grand parents, and great grand parents attending to help release the last of the coho fry into nearby Terminal Creek – lots of smiling faces on the children (and BIFWC volunteers).
Our Partners Who Make Everything Possible
The BIFWC is made up entirely of volunteers who depend on the generosity and dedication of our partners. Our DFO Community Advisor, Rob Bell-Irving, is invaluable providing advice and support for ‘all things salmon’ with emphasis on hatchery operations and habitat rehabilitation projects. The Pacific Streamkeeping Federation, headed by Zo Ann Morten, provides on-site volunteer training and advice when we are concerned about anything which may impact the health of local streams. Without funding from the Pacific Salmon Foundation we could not do the habitat rehabilitation work we’ve done on Bowen Island. We have always received support and encouragement from Bowen Island Municipality staff and elected Council. I usually present to Council several times each year updating them on current habitat projects, hatchery production, and any issues impacting streams and fish habitat.
There is another partner, who perhaps we’ve taken for granted, that should be thanked for their quiet contribution to salmon enhancement for over 30 years on Bowen Island. Metro Vancouver Parks, part of the Greater Vancouver Regional District (GVRD), is the owner of the Terminal Creek Salmon Hatchery building in Crippen Park. The have allowed BIFWC volunteers, under the guidance of DFO, to operate the hatchery and carry out salmon enhancement activities from the hatchery. They have also allowed the Island Discovery Learning Community to hold classes several days of the week in the hatchery Forest Classroom.
Thanks everybody and have a great summer.
Chair – Bowen Island Fish & Wildlife Club