Salmonid Enhancement Program - 40th anniversary
The Salmonid Enhancement Program has been active in communities across B.C. and the Yukon for 40 years. Unique to the Pacific Region, it has evolved into a valued program working to restore and conserve Pacific salmon stocks.
The program, known simply as SEP, sustains salmon populations and provides harvest opportunities in commercial, recreational and Aboriginal fisheries. It produces Pacific salmon by operating salmon hatcheries and spawning channels; by restoring habitat in rivers, streams and wetlands; and by supporting citizen involvement in activities to enhance salmon, restore habitat and improve watershed stewardship.
SEP has been innovative in engaging citizens in hands-on activities to revitalize salmon in their neighbourhood streams. The program was built on the belief that public awareness and the involvement of community groups, First Nations, schools and individuals is crucial to the long-term protection of salmon.
Over the years, SEP has evolved and adapted to changing needs and priorities to stay current and relevant. Collectively the program:
- Raises and releases millions of juvenile salmon a year from 23 major salmon enhancement facilities, including hatcheries and spawning channels, to maintain and rebuild weak salmon stocks and sustain fisheries
- Provides 10-20 per cent of all salmon fishing opportunities for commercial, recreational and Aboriginal harvesters
- Contributes approximately $90 million of direct and indirect economic benefits and 1,592 person years of employment annually to the British Columbia economy (Source: 2012 BCStats Ministry of Citizen Services)
- Improves and rebuilds critical salmon habitat through projects – many in partnership with industry, other government agencies and the community – that include building side-channels, improving water flows, removing barriers to salmon migration, stabilizing stream banks and rebuilding estuary marshes
- Works with up to 30,000 volunteers from community groups, First Nations and schools on hundreds of projects that range from operating salmon hatcheries to improving fish habitat to collecting stream and fish data to public education
- Supports a range of educational material to teach schoolchildren about the value of the salmon resource. Salmonids in the Classroom and Stream to Sea, SEP-developed curriculum endorsed by the B.C. Ministry of Education, have been studied by more than one million schoolchildren throughout B.C. and the Yukon
- Marks fish at hatcheries and spawning channels with fin clips and/or coded-wire nose tags to collect salmon stock assessment data and support the domestic and international management of Pacific salmon and
- Improves techniques for fish culture and develops new methods for salmon enhancement that include rearing ponds/channels, fishways, fish ladders, in-stream incubation boxes, rearing pens and fry colonization
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