The next group of chinook salmon yearlings, currently at the Omega Pacific Hatchery near Great Central Lake. SUBMITTED PHOTO

The next group of chinook salmon yearlings, currently at the Omega Pacific Hatchery near Great Central Lake. SUBMITTED PHOTO

Port Alberni Salmon Fest gives back with donation to hatchery

Port Alberni’s Salmon Festival Society is continuing to help salmon enhancement projects in the community.

On Friday, May 24, Chris Wynans from the Salmon Festival Society presented Carol Schmitt of Omega Pacific Hatchery with a cheque for $18,130.

The independent hatchery, located near Great Central Lake, uses innovative methods to raise and release chinook yearlings. Omega Pacific is currently working on a trial where the hatchery will grow comparative groups of chinook juveniles over four years to the Robertson Creek Hatchery. This new funding will be put towards the costs of raising the hatchery’s next group of 100,000 chinook.

READ: Alberni’s Omega Pacific Hatchery releases third bath of chinook salmon

According to Schmitt, the fry are from adult chinooks spawned last fall and have just been ponded to start on feed. They will be raised as natural yearling chinooks for 12 months and released next April 2020.

All of the juveniles will be coded wire-tagged and adipose clipped. A specific number on the tag will identify this release group as the adult fish tags are recovered, from Alaska back to Port Alberni.

“That is why it is very important to always check your fish if the adipose fin is removed,” said Schmitt. “If so, return the nose so the small tag can be removed and its number recovered.”

READ: Port Alberni derby entries help salmon enhancement projects

Last year, the Salmon Fest Society provided $14,000 to Omega Pacific Hatchery. The funds come from an extra $10 fee that is added to each derby ticket. This year’s Salmon Festival is scheduled for Aug. 30 to Sept. 2 at Tyee Landing.

The fish raised by Omega Pacific will eventually return to the Alberni Inlet as adults for future salmon derbies.