Helping out Chinook in Quatsino

Helping out Chinook in Quatsino

By Gina Forsyth

Thanks to the assistance of Dave Guhl of the Quatsino area, several thousand Chinook smolts produced by the Marble River Hatchery are getting the best possible start in life.

“The Marble River Hatchery has received amazing support from Marine Harvest over the years. Just because they raise Atlantic Salmon does not mean that they are out of touch with the work that is being put onto raising the wild salmon. The smolt program that we have in Quatsino Sound is amazing, because by transporting our Chinook smolts to a salt water net pen for a few weeks, it increases their survival rate by 3%. It doesn’t sound like much but it truly is beneficial to the Chinook. Getting them past the estuary where they are really hit hard, helps in their survival,” says Deb Anderson of the Marble River Hatchery.

 “Marine Harvest does all of our water testing to make sure that the ocean is free of plankton bloom when we transport them to the site,” she adds.

For the past three years, Dave, Manager of Koskimo Bay, has provided information on the aquatic environment in the area prior to smolt entry.

“Last year I did plankton samples at the Quatsino Lodge where the Chinook were to be ponded. Based on my results I recommended not to enter the smolts into the cage. They took my recommendation and entered them at the mouth of the Marble River instead to ensure a successful return”, says Dave. 

In a previous year, hatchery staff released into water with a high plankton count and the majority of them died due to the plankton outbreak. In addition to the invaluable plankton information, Dave also arranges for bags of feed for the smolts.

Guests at the Quatsino Lodge are able to feed the fish, which is a big hit. It is hoped that a large number of the smolts will return to spawn in four years.