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Powell River Salmon Society releases chum fry into creek

Many gathered to help fish begin their epic journey

For close to 40 years, Powell River Salmon Society (PRSS) has successfully released millions of salmon fry into creeks around the qathet region.

On Friday, April 12, folks gathered at Willingdon Beach Campsite once again to assist chum salmon on their long journey, in the hopes they will return to spawn and eventually leave nutrients in our coastal ecosystem. PRSS member and director Peter Giroday said Willingdon Creek is ideal for the release of chum salmon because of its vicinity to the ocean.

"Chum are released close to the ocean because they start to change right away and need salt," said Giroday. "They will go out right away [to the ocean or estuary], so they have more of a chance. In the other places like Lang Creek, they have a higher probability of getting eaten by birds or other fish."

Science research indicates that salmon use their sense of smell in order to return to the place they were released, so the fish need to have time to imprint themselves before being released.

A district advisor with Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) oversees the fish incubation programs and release. The DFO, in partnership with PRSS, have fish tanks set up in classrooms around qathet School District as part of the salmon enhancement program. 

PRSS members said they have about a five per cent return on what they release, but with climate change that might skew the numbers in the future.

"The whole idea of the PRSS and the Salmon Preservation Foundation is to preserve/increase the numbers of salmon and provide an educational component as well," said PRSS president Rod Tysdal.

According to the PRSS website, “the Salmon Preservation Foundation (SPF) was created to ensure the long term sustainability of Pacific salmon in BC. SPF was officially launched in 2022 out of necessity to support the government funding shortfalls of Powell River Salmon Society."

The community gathering on April 12 was supported by City of Powell River’s parks, recreation and culture department.

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