Quatse River Hatchery
The Quatse River Hatchery is located in Port Hardy on Northern Vancouver Island. It opened in 1983 and is owned and operated by the Northern Vancouver Island Salmonid Enhancement Association (NVISEA). The facility produces coho, pink, chum, and steelhead. Four full-time staff, with up to 12 seasonal staff, also provide labour and technical support to a number of volunteer hatcheries and habitat restoration groups in the region.
From its inception in 1983 until early in 2009, hatchery operations were carried out from an aging Atco trailer unit. NVISEA Directors made the decision to upgrade the hatchery facilities and expand operations to include educational, research and tourist services. The Board developed a business plan and raised over one million dollars to demolish the old Atco trailer and replace it with an interpretive gallery, classroom, wet and dry labs, administrative offices, and to upgrade the hatchery water distribution infrastructure and add new circular tanks to increase production capacity.
The Quatse Hatchery has an incubation capacity for one million coho, chum, and/or steelhead eggs, using 24 Heath stacks, and for 2.5 million pink salmon eggs, using eight Pallant boxes. Current production target is 300,000 coho smolts, 80,000 steelhead smolts, 100,000 chum fry, and 2.1 million pink fry.
For juvenile rearing, we utilize twelve Capilano troughs, ten 12' circular tanks and three 5' X 30' concrete raceways. For adult brood holding, all raceways and tanks are used.
The hatchery uses two water sources. Submerged pumps draw river water from a screened intake, utilized primarily for adult holding and bulk pink salmon incubation. A gravity fed groundwater source is used primarily for Heath tray incubation and juvenile rearing.
The O'Connor Lake Net Pen facility is truly the jewel in NVISEA's juvenile rearing facilities. NVISEA's O'Connor pen system has twelve 145 square meter (16' by 16' by 20') individual pens. Each is enclosed by submerged PVC coated wire mesh to prevent predator attack and net damage.
The system is operated from September, when fry are transferred from the hatchery, to May when smolts are released to their natal streams. The site is allowed to fallow for the summer months of the year. The advantages of lake pen rearing are primarily associated with reduced costs as no electricity is required to pump water and the automated feeders are solar powered. Smolt quality is also improved by lower density lake rearing.
In 2015 and 2016 a resistivity counter was installed in the river adjacent to the hatchery. This will allow a more accurate estimate of the number and species of fish utilizing the Quatse River.
The interpretive centre is open from mid-May to the end of September, and the hatchery is open to the public year-round. Guided tours are available daily during the summer months, and can be arranged by request in the off-season.
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