Two Powell River-area organizations have qualified for grants to carry out salmon enhancement projects.
Powell River Salmon Society (PRSS) will receive a grant of $40,100 for Lang Creek stock enhancement. Tla'amin Nation Salmon Hatchery will receive a grant of $16,800 for equipment upgrades.
The money is part of more than $1.2 million in grants to 117 grassroots salmon conservation projects across BC, announced by the Pacific Salmon Foundation (PSF). The PSF community salmon program is funded primarily from sales of the federal government’s salmon conservation stamp. The stamp is purchased annually by saltwater anglers who participate in the public fishery. Proceeds from the $6 stamp are returned to BC through PSF, generating nearly $1.5 million for community grants annually.
PRSS president Ed Oldfield said the society has lots of uses for money to enhance salmon. He said it operates facilities at Lang Creek and Duck Lake, as well as the hatchery at the mill, and releases about three million fish per year back into the ocean.
“We started out with 30,000 coho 40 years ago and got ourselves up to three million fish,” said Oldfield. “We raise chum, and pinks every other year, coho and chinook.
“We introduced chinook into Lang Creek when we started our facility out there. We got broodstock from Qualicum and now have a thriving chinook return every year.”
Oldfield said the salmon society operates on thousands of hours of volunteer time every year. There are four main sources of income for the society, including a contract with Fisheries and Oceans Canada for $188,000 a year for the last 40 years. PSF has provided grants over the years, and has been the second biggest source of income. Locally, a significant amount of money is made by producing an annual tide guide, then there’s private donations. The annual budget is just under $300,000 to produce the large run of salmon.
“Fish food alone is expensive, as are capital projects and keeping things running,” said Oldfield.
PSF money will go into projects such as maintenance and for capital expenditures. Oldfield said he is grateful for the donation.
“The money from the PSF was incredibly welcome,” he added.
The Province of BC also contributed funds to the community salmon program as part of a $5 million grant, through 2023, to address immediate and ongoing needs of Pacific salmon and their habitats.
According to a media release from PSF, thousands of volunteers will be supported to: restore salmon habitat in streams, rivers and estuaries; operate conservation hatcheries and related education programs; and undertake a variety of citizen science projects to help better understand the challenges Pacific salmon face amid climate change.
“Pacific salmon are crucial to marine ecosystems throughout the West Coast and they hold incredible cultural significance for first nations and British Columbians,” stated minister of fisheries, oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard Bernadette Jordan. “I am very proud of our government’s continued partnership with Pacific Salmon Foundation and look forward to the results of these vital restoration and conservation projects. By working together, through real collaboration, we will be able to rebuild this critical stock.”
These projects and the people behind them will help wild salmon return to BC’s streams and rivers, and will let communities share the environmental, social and economic benefits salmon bring with them, stated BC agriculture minister Lana Popham.
“British Columbians are known for their volunteer spirit and while we still have to follow the recommendations of public health officials, these programs will provide opportunities for people to get back to what they love doing as we work to protect Pacific salmon throughout BC,” added Popham.
Given this challenging time, we at the Pacific Salmon Foundation are carrying on by continuing to support the important work of community and first nations salmon stewards through our community salmon program, stated PSF president and CEO Michael Meneer.
“Our announcement is to send a strong and clear message that the work of salmon stewardship at the community level is vital, and will carry on. We will have to adapt within public health guidelines, but want our community and first nations partners to know their good ideas will still be supported. The community salmon program is the heart of the Pacific Salmon Foundation’s work. By working together, we can find solutions and the best way to ensure the future of Pacific salmon across the province.”