An emergency release of more than 8,000 Coho fry was necessary after heavy rainfall caused severe damage to the Oldfield Creek Hatchery, during the week of Sept. 21.
The fish hatchery is closed until further notice due to severe damage caused by storm debris blocking the creek and necessitating the release of the young salmon, near smolting, into the watershed.
More than 100 mm of rainfall fell over a 24-hour period, with the majority of it occurring during four hours which caused landslides. Three to five metres of debris flowed onto the intake reservoir of the hatchery. This lead to several failures throughout the intake water pipeline resulting in the blockage of viable water reaching the facility, making it inoperable.
The fry release occurred during the time when salmon broodstock is usually collected and enhancement cycles initiated for future salmon production.
“While this will contribute to future salmon returns, the survival rate may be less than that of the planned releases of larger smolts,” the Prince Rupert Salmonid Enhancement Society and Oldfield Creek Fish Hatchery told The Northern View in an email, on Sept. 29.
The full extent of the damage to the salmon habitat in Oldfield Creek is yet to be determined pending an assessment which is still underway.
The creek above Wantage Rd. is currently diverted from its original channel and remains a future risk to the road, bridge and surrounding area, the hatchery stated.
Several bridges along walking trails have been obliterated, the correspondence stated with many sections eroded, while the Kiwanis Trail climbing Mt. Hayes is currently impassable.
Norman Galimski | Journalist
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