Hatchery Upgrades Support Bulkley River Coho and Chinook Salmon Stocks
HATCHERY UPGRADES SUPPORT BULKLEY RIVER COHO AND CHINOOK SALMON STOCKS
Efforts to improve and monitor wild Coho and Chinook salmon stock productivity in Northwest BC have received a significant financial boost from the Prince Rupert Port Authority (PRPA). The Toboggan Creek Salmon & Steelhead Enhancement Society has received a $60,000 commitment from PRPA’s Skeena River Salmon Enhancement Program to upgrade aging infrastructure at the Toboggan Creek Hatchery northwest of Smithers. These improvements will help the volunteer-led organization carry on their operations safely and sustainably for years to come and allow them to continue to directly contribute to Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s management of Pacific Northwest salmon fisheries.
Initially built in 1985 as a five-year pilot project, the Toboggan Creek Hatchery has outlived its intended lifespan and upgrades are underway to modernize and improve biosecurity at the facility. The funds from PRPA are going towards the revitalization of the hatchery’s outdoor earthen rearing ponds, where its Coho and Chinook salmonid fry are raised. The project includes removing old wooden dividers that separate the stock and replacing them with more durable steel versions, as well as reshaping the ponds and lining them with aggregate.
“These upgrades will provide our fish a safe and productive place to rear, and ensure we can keep our stocks separated,” said Kris Bulloch, Toboggan Hatchery Manager. “Our hatchery is the only Coho indicator stock in the Skeena watershed and we are grateful to receive support from the Prince Rupert Port Authority’s Skeena River Salmon Enhancement Program, as it reinforces our efforts and reaffirms our shared commitment to improving the health and vitality of wild salmon populations.”
Through its ongoing assessment activities, Toboggan Creek Hatchery has been providing uninterrupted Coho salmon exploitation, ocean distribution, and survival data for 35 years. The field data and samples gathered from the facility’s spring smolt trapping, mid-summer coded wire tagging and marking, and fall adult assessment fence operations directly inform Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s Pacific Northwest Coho salmon fishery and determine the annual allowable commercial retention of ocean-going Coho.
“For more than three and a half decades, the Toboggan Creek Hatchery has played a crucial role in salmon stock productivity in Northwest BC, and the rearing pond upgrade project perfectly aligns with the Skeena River Salmon Enhancement Program’s mandate to support salmon productivity in the Skeena River watershed,” said Shaun Stevenson, President & CEO, Prince Rupert Port Authority. “By committing to locally-driven projects further upstream, especially on the Bulkley River and other tributaries, we have a greater chance of restoring salmon populations throughout the region.”
ABOUT THE SKEENA RIVER SALMON ENHANCEMENT PROGRAM:
The Skeena River Salmon Enhancement Program was established by the Prince Rupert Port Authority in 2019 with a $1 million endowment from its Community Investment Fund. The goal of the program is to team up with regional partners such as First Nations, non-governmental organizations, and community groups on projects that enhance the salmon population and protect their habitat in the Skeena River and its watershed. The program also provides the opportunity to partner with other agencies and organizations leading similar initiatives to leverage additional financial resources toward this important priority. In addition to monetary support, PRPA is also seeking ways to share capacity and data from its existing environmental stewardship programs to enhance new and existing salmon-related initiatives.