Major SEP projects

Hatcheries

Fish hatcheries

Salmon hatcheries play a key role in the Salmonid Enhancement Program’s efforts to conserve weak salmon stocks; provide recreational, commercial and Aboriginal fishing opportunities; and support stock assessment. Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) operates 23 hatchery facilities and spawning channels, which release hundreds of millions of juvenile salmon every year to supplement wild stocks and sustain British Columbia fisheries. Supported through the Community Economic Development Plan (CEDP), First Nations and community groups also operate hatcheries under contract with DFO, while volunteers run community hatcheries - all working to enhance salmon stocks on local rivers and streams.

In a hatchery, juvenile salmon survive at rates many times greater than in the wild. Hatchery staff capture adult salmon as they return to their streams of origin. Eggs are taken from the returning spawners, fertilized and incubated at the hatchery. After the eggs have hatched and the young salmon called alevin have absorbed their yolk sacs, the juveniles are moved to rearing ponds and fed for varying lengths of time, depending on the species, before they are released back to the stream. These activities follow the natural life cycle for each salmon species.

Spawning channels provide high-quality habitat for adult salmon to lay their eggs and for eggs to incubate. Hatcheries and spawning channels provide increased fishing opportunities and comprise an estimated 10 to 20 percent of all salmon harvested in B.C. The Salmonid Enhancement Program contributes approximately $90 million of direct and indirect economic benefits and 1,592 person-years of employment annually to Canada’s economy, according to BCStats, Ministry of Citizen Services. Fish hatcheries are, in most cases, open to the public year-round and provide excellent opportunities to see and learn about salmon and stewardship of surrounding watersheds.

Spawning channels

Spawning channels

Spawning channels provide high-quality habitat for adult salmon to lay their eggs and for eggs to incubate. Hatcheries and spawning channels provide increased fishing opportunities and comprise an estimated 10 to 20 percent of all salmon harvested in B.C. The Salmonid Enhancement Program contributes approximately $90 million of direct and indirect economic benefits and 1,592 person-years of employment annually to Canada’s economy, according to BCStats, Ministry of Citizen Services. Fish hatcheries are, in most cases, open to the public year-round and provide excellent opportunities to see and learn about salmon and stewardship of surrounding watersheds.

Community Economic Development Program

Community Economic Development Program

The Community Economic Development Program was founded in 1977-78. The Program is intended to help restore depleted salmonid stocks in British Columbia and to improve the self-reliance, independence, and social and economic stability of aboriginal people in British Columbia. The Program operates via contracts in B.C. communities to meet aspirations of both the Department and the community. Currently, the Program supports 19 projects.

CEDP projects mainly involve hatcheries and counting fences and consist of one or more structures for fish culture and education activities (e.g., offices, hatchery building, raceways, aeration towers, etc.). 13 projects are operated by Aboriginal Bands and the rest by community organisations. The majority of the projects are located in remote or rural communities.

CEDP Projects are involved in 5 key activities:

  • Fish culture: including collecting broodstock, spawning and incubation, hatchery rearing of fry, operating sea pens, and fish culture support to other facilities
  • Project operations: including administration, off-site maintenance such as fish way or fish ladder maintenance and on-site maintenance such as grounds keeping
  • Habitat conservation: including fry salvage programs, riparian planting and management, water quality and temperature recording, habitat surveys and mapping, and habitat restoration
  • Public stewardship: including hosting field trips on site, off-site field trips and educational programs, watershed planning processes, trade shows/education fairs/community events and local government planning processes
  • Assessment: including fry counting programs, fry density inventories, hydraulic sampling programs, sampling for biological traits, and adult counting fences

Each CEDP project is involved in all 5 types of activities to various degrees. Overall, fish culture is the most dominant project activity.

Resource restoration

Resource restoration

Restoring and improving fish habitat, critical to the survival of wild salmon stocks, is an important focus of the Salmonid Enhancement Program (SEP). This includes building side-channels, improving water flows, stabilizing stream banks, rebuilding estuary marshes, removing barriers to fish migration and planting streamside vegetation. SEP works on these projects with a wide variety of partners, such as First Nations, industry, community and conservation groups, landowners and other government agencies, each partner playing a vital role. In these partnerships, SEP biologists and engineers often design the projects and provide technical advice and assistance. The following are examples of some habitat restoration projects across British Columbia:

Anderson Pond

Photo: Anderson Pond adjacent to the Chilliwack River

Anderson Pond was created adjacent to the Chilliwack River as off-channel habitat for coho salmon, which need quiet water while they feed and grow over the winter. SEP created the 15,000-square-metre pond in a bend in the river that had been cut off from the main channel when the Chilliwack River Road was built 40 years ago. The pond was expanded in size and filled with water by redirecting a nearby creek that had also been made inaccessible to salmon by the road construction. A new culvert was placed under the road, which now allows salmon to swim from the river into the pond and spawn in the small creek. The pond provides year-round habitat for other fish species, such as chum and steelhead salmon, bull and cutthroat trout, and is one of a dozen ponds built and connected to the Chilliwack River over the past two decades. SEP identified the site for Anderson Pond and designed it, while funding and additional technical assistance came from the B.C. government.

Waterfalls Creek and Kathlyn Creek

Spawning habitat was restored on two sites in the Bulkley River watershed. Waterfalls Creek and Kathlyn Creek provide valued spawning, rearing and overwintering habitat for salmonids, but high water flows had washed away much of the gravel necessary for good fish habitat in these two tributaries. SEP added spawning gravel to a 30-metre section of Waterfalls Creek, in the village of New Hazelton, and to a 20-metre section of Kathlyn Creek, which flows through the Smithers Golf Course. Fish were salvaged from the creek prior to the gravel placement. Partners in this project included the District of New Hazelton, the Smithers Golf Course, Pacific Salmon Foundation and Community Futures Development Corp.

Wansa Creek

Photo: Restoration efforts at Wansa Creek

Fish are able to swim through a culvert on Wansa Creek after SEP installed a rock weir that creates a backwatering effect, making it easier for fish to enter and pass through the culvert. High and swift water flows through the culvert, where Highway 16 crosses the creek, had impeded fish passage, blocking access to productive upstream fish habitat for spawning and rearing. SEP designed the weir and worked with the B.C. Ministry of Transportation, the Pacific Salmon Commission and Carrier Lumber to implement the plan. After construction, 500 small willow trees were planted to restore the vegetation on the creek's banks. Chinook salmon, rainbow trout and burbot are now seen upstream of the culvert.

Squamish River Estuary

Photo: Squamish estuary

In the Squamish River estuary, tidal channels that had been blocked by the construction of a dike have been restored. The channels were recreated and nine culverts were placed through the dike so water can flow more naturally between the river and inner estuary. The tidal channels, with their marsh vegetation, are critical habitat for a variety of fish, particularly young chinook salmon migrating from the river to the ocean. The tides cause the channel's water levels to rise and fall, allowing young fish to feed and take refuge in the marshes and for nutrients in the marshes to be carried into the near-shore marine environments. The project, which was designed by SEP, was developed in anticipation of the B.C. government's designation of part of the estuary as a wildlife management area. Partners - such as the Squamish Nation, Squamish River Watershed Society, District of Squamish, B.C. Ministry of Environment and B.C. Hydro - pitched in to carry out the channel project.

The Millstone River side-channel

The Millstone River side-channel was conceived as part of a plan to rebuild wild coho salmon populations in this urban stream that runs through Nanaimo. The side-channel also benefits cutthroat trout and steelhead salmon. SEP joined forces with a host of partners to build the side-channel, which allows fish to bypass a series of waterfalls in the city's Bowen Park that had prevented fish from reaching productive spawning and rearing habitat above the falls. Before construction of the side-channel, fish had to be captured and transported above the falls to spawn. SEP designed the channel, while construction and funding involved partners such as the City of Nanaimo, Pacific Salmon Foundation, Pacific Salmon Commission, B.C. government, Nanaimo Fish and Game Protective Association, Island Water Fly Fishers, Vancouver Island University and other community and conservation groups and local businesses.

Stewardship and community involvement

Stewardship and community involvement

Contact

  • Joanne Day
  • Community Liaison Biologist
  • Oceans, Ecosystem Management Branch
  • 604-666-6614
  • Fax: 604-666-0417

Regulations and enforcement alone are not enough to protect fish and fish habitat; a combination of these with a proactive approach are required. Canadians may play a role in safeguarding one of the country's natural treasures by acting as stewards of our fisheries resources. This website provides resources to assist Canadians in the Pacific Region in their stewardship and community involvement activities.

Stewardship, simply stated, means Canadians - including landowners and other individual citizens, private companies and volunteers - are caring for our land, air and water, and sustaining the natural processes on which life depends. (Canada Stewardship Agenda: Naturally Connecting Canadians, 2002)

In Pacific Region, Fisheries and Oceans Canada has a long history of stewardship and community involvement through initiatives such as the Salmonid Enhancement Program and the Stream to Sea education program. The concept of stewardship goes beyond legal obligations to encompass moral obligations and a sense of responsible care. It refers to a wide range of actions and activities of individuals, communities, groups and organizations acting alone or in partnership, to promote, monitor and conserve and restore freshwater and oceans ecosystems.

Our regional guiding principles are consistent with those of the Canada Stewardship Agenda and the national Oceans Sector Stewardship Framework. They recognize and confirm that Stewardship is implemented at the local level, recognizing the diverse social and economic conditions and introduces integrated planning as a concept. These principles reflect the Department's regional needs to guide Fisheries and Oceans Canada stewardship activities.