Cowichan Lake Salmonid Enhancement Society president Bob Crandall

Cowichan Lake Salmonid Enhancement Society president Bob Crandall

A dirty problem at the Lake Cowichan fish hatchery

A dirty problem has begun to plague the Cowichan Lake Salmonid Enhancement Society’s fish hatchery.

  • May. 30, 2011 8:00 a.m.

A dirty problem has begun to plague the Cowichan Lake Salmonid Enhancement Society’s fish hatchery.

The water flowing through the society’s fish hatchery has more dirt in it than usual; a problem for the latest batch of coho eggs.

“It causes the eggs to clump up and when they clump up they die,” Cowichan Lake Salmonid Enhancement Society president Bob Crandall said.

A development upstream is likely the cause.

Upstream, soil has been spread on new lawns; soil that has made its way into storm drains, and therefore the creek and the hatchery downstream.

“It’s been getting worse each year,” Crandall told a group of people touring the hatchery as part of a Streamkeepers’ Course, last weekend.

The hatchery is going to be looking into remedies for this problem before the brood stock program starts up again, wherein eggs and milt are collected from chum and coho, fertilized, and raised into fish at the hatchery to be released into local streams.

He doesn’t have estimates as to how many fish have been lost as a result of the clumping, though all surviving coho eggs have hatched, and have been placed into the hatchery’s tanks and are now accepting fish food.

The approximately 28,000 coho are currently gaining more body weight before they are released into local streams.

Earlier this spring, about 33,000 chum were released into Cowichan Lake area streams.

With wet conditions, the society’s fry salvage program, wherein fish are rescued from drying-out creeks, has been a bit late to get going, this year.

Crandall expects fish requiring rescue as soon as conditions dry out a bit.