By the end of the year, the Oldfield Creek Hatchery will house one of the very few Salmon Education Centres in all of British Columbia that will let people have a greater understanding of the fish, and what people can do in their every day lives to help preserve salmon life.
Steve Leask, who is the education coordinator for Fisheries and Oceans and is the volunteer hatchery manager, said that the idea to build an education centre in Prince Rupert came from the Quatse Salmon Stewardship Centre in Port Hardy, which currently is one of the only salmon education centre in the province.
The hatchery found the means to build the centre by raising around $71,000 that came from groups such as the Pacific Salmon Foundation, the Prince Rupert Port Authority, Northing Savings Credit Union, BC Hydro and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.
After starting renovation and preparing for the new centre, the hatchery saw delays due to issues with the roof, so the original set date of completion has been moved from April to sometime in October, provided that nothing else goes wrong.
“It turned into a larger project because everything is being redone now. It’s basically a new hatchery from the ground up.” Said Leask.
A large portion of the renovated hatchery will be dedicated to the education centre where people will be able to learn everything about salmon, as well as the human impacts and how people can save future stocks. Once complete, there will be a number of different programs linked to the education centre including a class at North West Community College.
Although many hatcheries around the province do have educational items in them none will be as elaborate in comparison to the educational capabilities of centres such as the Oldfield Hatchery Education Centre and the Quatse Salmon Stewardship Centre.
Although by the end of the year the hatchery will be offering a lot more knowledge to people, the centre is not the first way the group has made salmon information available to the public. The hatchery also offers the Salmon in the Classroom program, a joint project between the Prince Rupert Salmonid Enhancement Society and Fisheries and Oceans. Tanks have been set up around the district so students can witness the early stages of growth in salmon. Once the fish are old enough students are invited down to the hatchery where they learn about the life cycle of salmon and get the opportunity to release fish into the Oldfield Creek.
The Oldfield Creek Fish Hatchery is always looking for more volunteers and donations. With the new education centre, there will be a lot more opportunities for people to volunteer, even if they don’t have a lot of knowledge about salmon or simply aren’t a fish person. Any interested people are encouraged to email the hatchery at firstname.lastname@example.org