A Houston volunteer stream-keepers group wants to start a small coho hatchery in Houston.
The hatchery would incubate 10,000 Coho Salmon eggs between October 2015 and May 2016, and then release them into the Upper Bulkley River (Little Bulkley) in May and June 2016.
The project idea was presented to council last Tuesday by Cindy Verbeek, Northern Representative for A Rocha Canada, and Brenda Donas, Community Advisor for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO).
It was inspired by the declining populations in coho and other salmon, and the need for enhancement on the Upper Bulkley, Verbeek said.
The last activity towards enhancing the Upper Bulkley River was a roundtable that met in early-2000, she said, adding that the group no longer exists.
Verbeek says the hatchery project is dependant on community support and on them finding a suitable location for the hatchery, which they plan to be mobile and built on a 14-foot trailer.
They need a heated area to store the hatchery over the winter – a place with electricity and a clean water source.
If the project moves forward, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) Canada will supply the hatchery equipment, technical information and hatchery knowledge and training for volunteers, Verbeek said.
Besides rebuilding the declining coho population, this project is also about raising awareness and growing local appreciation for the salmon resource.
Verbeek says schools, community groups, landowners and recreational anglers would be invited to volunteer or tour the hatchery.
Local volunteers would be trained by DFO staff in collecting, handling and fertilizing eggs, as well as caring for and releasing the salmon fry.
Councillor Jonathan Van Barneveld says he thinks the proposed hatchery is a great project.
“The Upper Bulkley has been labeled the most endangered river in the Skeena watershed. It’s great that you’re looking at that,” he said.
The Upper Bulkley Stream-keepers would welcome volunteers for water-quality monitoring or hatchery work.
Anyone interested in volunteering or anyone with information about a possible location for the hatchery can contact Cindy Verbeek at 250-845-2222.