Yakoun River, Marie Lake Hatchery Project

Project Description


Project Name: Yakoun River, Marie Lake Hatchery Project

Partner Group: Old Massett Village Council

Contact Info:
John Disney, Economic Development Officer
Darren Edgars, Hatchery Manager

The Yakoun River Hatchery located at Marie Lake on Graham Island, Haida Gwaii was established in 1978 as a partnership between the Old Massett Village Council and Fisheries and Oceans Canada to rebuild the declining Yakoun River chinook stock as well as enhance Yakoun River coho salmon.

The Yakoun River, which drains into Masset Inlet on Northern Graham Island, supports the only indigenous chinook stock on Haida Gwaii. The Yakoun watershed is the largest on the islands and was heavily impacted by logging activities during the latter half of the twentieth century. The resulting habitat degradation combined with increasing fishing harvest pressures resulted in chinook stocks declining to the alarmingly low level of 300 spawners in the mid 1980s. Hatchery stock rebuilding efforts combined with protective management measures, designed to minimize harvest in the recreational and commercial fisheries, appear to have resulted in rebuilding of this vulnerable chinook stock. A rough yearly index of escapement is obtained through opportunistic visual observations made during broodstock collection and these observations suggest that the stock is recovering. Estimates over the last decade are approaching the management target of 5000 spawners and therefore the CEDP enhancement project seems to be achieving its key objective.

The hatchery consists of an incubation building and longhouse style crew accommodations on the eastern shore of Marie Lake as well as a floating net-pen complex accessed from the adjacent shore by a floating walkway. The hatchery relies on heath trays for incubation and net pens for rearing of juveniles as well as broodstock holding in the fall. Current annual production targets are 250,000 chinook and 100,000 coho smolts.

Current project objectives:

  • Rebuild and maintain the the Yakoun River chinook and coho stocks to historical levels;
  • Provide training and employment for Haida First Nations people of Old Massett;
  • Continue to expand local resource management capacity through involvement in enhancement, stock assessment and habitat restoration;
  • Support public involvement through hatchery tours and participation in school visits.