The project was initiated with the Heiltsuk Indian Band in 1977 to provide a commercial fishery, training, employment, food fish, economic benefit, and encourage native involvement through project implementation, operation and annual planning exercises. The project is located on Campbell Island near Bella Bella, approximately 90 km west of Bella Coola (I.F.#1) (Latitude 52.13824, Longitude, -128.15156). The site is owned by the Heiltsuk Indian Band.
The staff of McLoughlin Hatchery are proud of the contributions the facility has made and feel it is seen as a positive and valuable part of the Heiltsuk community. The facility provides meaningful employment with staff that have been with the project for over 20 years. Adult production from McLoughlin Hatchery has contributed to commercial, recreational and food fisheries in Area 7 and the Central Coast.
The project has changed significantly over the decades. Initially, the project was accessed only by boat and a 1500’ boardwalk that was hand built by the crew. All supplies had to be hauled up the boardwalk to construct the facility and there was no hydro power or telephone. The facility consisted of one building, a removable broomstick fence and an outdoor rearing area with 12 Capilano style rearing troughs. There was also a netpen float for short term rearing in McLoughlin Bay. Today, the site can be accessed by vehicle, has electricity, telephone, internet and a flush toilet! There are four buildings on site and an expanded rearing area both on land and with an additional netpen float in McLoughlin Bay.
Production from the facility began with transplant of a nearby chum stock to augment what was available in McLoughlin Creek. The first eggtakes were modest and several incubation methods were employed during those early years to develop an appropriate technology for the site and water supply. Also during this period, the crew were involved in stream clearing activities in Area 7. In 1982, the project expanded to include coho production to mitigate for by-catch in the terminal commercial chum fishery and started treating the water with limestone in a specially designed hopper to increase pH and improve chum incubation survival. Production targets in the 80’s and early 90’s were 1.25 million chum eggs (aiming for a 1 million smolt release) and 120,000 coho eggs (for a 85-90,000 smolt release). In the mid 1990’s the coho target was reduced to 90,000 to reflect changes in fish culture best practices recommendations and just this year the project was able to double the chum target to 2 million smolt release with funds from the Pacific Salmon Commission.
Over the years, McLoughlin Hatchery has also participated in satellite enhancement of Kwakusdis chum and Tankeeah sockeye - both of these being initiated by the Heiltsuk Fisheries (AFS) program. In addition to working with the AFS team, the hatchery and staff have supported the local community school and DFO Stream to Sea education program by supplying coho eggs and technical expertise to the classroom incubation program and hosting classroom trips to the facility.
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