We are so glad we visited the picturesque Chapman Creek Salmon Hatchery recently as we were so impressed at what is accomplished in this small hatchery which rears 100,000 salmon each year for release back into the wild. This is also where the adipose fin on the Coho is removed before release to the wild so that when the salmon matures it is legal to catch and keep. Wild Coho salmon in most areas are not permitted to be kept according to regulations but “catch and release” recreational fishing is permitted. Here is a quick overview of the life cycle of salmon at this salmon hatchery which is permitted by DFO to hatch Pink, Coho, Chum, Chinook and some Steelhead salmon.
The Sunshine Coast Salmonid Enhancement Society “Chapman Creek Hatchery” … is a non profit organisation which has been in existence since 1987 and was founded to aid, encourage and promote the salmonid enhancement in the streams of the Sunshine Coast.
Sunshine Coast Salmon Enhancement Society (a non-profit organization)
The Life Cycle at the Salmon Hatchery
In the Beginning mature salmon returning to the creek to spawn are caught in large traps built into the Creek. The salmon are milked of their eggs before they are returned to the creek to complete their life cycle.
The eggs from the milked salmon are placed in hatching trays with 5,000 to 7,000 eggs per tray. Each day during the hatching period the easily identifiable unfertilized eggs are removed from the trays.
Within a short period the “eyes” of the salmon are easily visible – these new baby salmon are called alevin
As the salmon fry grow rapidly they are moved into larger holding tanks before being moved to the outside tanks. Depending on species salmon stay in the hatchery for two to three years before release. Some fry are released sooner into the creek depending on species and size
A few weeks ago following a rain there was a small run of Coho after a large Pink salmon run. At the time of writing; the end of October, there has been little rain and evidently many Coho are waiting in the ocean for another rain before they navigate the low creeks to spawn. At another salmon stream nearby we watched a solitary giant Coho waiting to navigate the shallow creek, passing many carcasses of pink salmon in the clear waters.
It is so important that we care for our streams and the surrounding environment to keep them healthy and free from toxins to make sure the salmon can return to spawn and continue the cycle. The salmon hatchery plays a significant role in aiding the continuation of this vital resource for all to enjoy.
Adults and children alike will be amazed and interested in visiting a salmon hatchery. A fun learning activity for the entire family.
Chapman Creek Salmon Hatchery information
- The DFO regulates the capture and harvest of salmon
- The hatchery salmon numbers are based on what is sustainable in the local area (again DFO regulated)
- The approximate survival rate for hatchery raised salmon is almost triple the rate of wild salmon
- Salmon are anadromous which means they live in both salt and fresh water
- This small hatchery has an operating budget of $165,00 per annum with a staff of one full and two part-time employees plus many volunteers
- Tens of millions of salmon return to British Columbian coastal streams and rivers to spawn each year
- Each salmon species has a different life cycle, such as time in fresh water, years in the ocean, etc.
- A fishing tale: salmon stay in the ocean waiting for a rain before venturing up the rivers and creeks to spawn
Links & References
- “Where the magic begins” at Chapman Creek Hatchery, Sunshine Coast Salmon Enhancement
- Locate a salmon hatchery near you – Department of Fisheries brochure
- Brochure from Fisheries and Oceans with suggestions for keeping our streams clean and healthy
- How homeowners can help keep our streams healthy
- The life cycle of a salmon from Seymour Salmonid Society
- David Suzuki Foundation on “why salmon are important to humans“
- For recreational fisherpersons carry a fishing licence with you at all times – Tidal or Non-tidal (salt or fresh water)
- Article on decline of salmon in the Fraser River