Coho calamity at James Island wharf

Sidney Anglers lose 5,000 salmon smolts to ‘second-rate’ equipment failure.

  • May. 20, 2015 9:00 a.m.

The release of close to 20

It was supposed to have been a triumphant afternoon.

Members of the Sidney Anglers Association gathered at the James Island wharf in Central Saanich last Wednesday to oversee the release of about 18,000 Coho salmon smolts into a net pen secured to the dock.

The project is a collaborative effort between the Anglers and the Tsawout Fisheries to help enhance and replenish Coho salmon stocks in the Salish Sea, and is in its fourth year.

All was set to be an exciting release of the fish into the ocean when an equipment failure struck a huge blow to the project.

A hose on the oxygen delivery system of one tank failed, causing 5,000 smolts to die.

It’s the unfortunate result of having to deal with “second-rate equipment,” said Sidney Anglers director Grant MacPherson.

“Most of the stuff is begged, borrowed or stolen. That’s what we’re faced with,” he said. “With expertise we’re rich, but we don’t have a lot of financial resources.”

The loss represents thousands of volunteer hours, something the project is already short on.

It takes a year and a half and an extraordinary amount of effort to raise the fish from eggs to smolts at the Goldstream Volunteer Hatchery, said Sidney Anglers executive Clive Lane.

“It takes so much to put this all together.”

Past years have been successful, though it’s difficult to say exactly how many fish the net pen project has put back into local waters.

“We’ve had astonishing returns into the Gorge,” said MacPherson. “We’re making inroads, but there’s still so much we have to do. The work that goes in for each of those fish to get to that level … it’s a huge loss.”

Their efforts aren’t just to increase the stocks for sport fishermen, he added. The Sidney Anglers are working diligently to ensure that the entire West Coast ecosystem remains intact.

“People want the eagles and the whales and the bears, but you don’t get that without the fish,” he said. “We don’t just raise fish. What we’re trying to do is raise good stewards.”

But even as MacPherson watched his fellow Anglers scoop the dead Coho and toss them into the open ocean, a thin silver lining shone through.

“There’s going to be great crabbing off this dock for a few days,” said MacPherson, watching a flock of screeling gulls feast on the floating smolts. “And then those people will take them home and feed their families, and nothing goes to waste.”

For more information on the Sidney Anglers Association or the net pen project and how to volunteer, visit sidneyanglers.ca.

Just Posted

Fate of accused in Saanich couple’s 1987 killings in jury’s hands

William Talbott’s lawyer says DNA doesn’t prove murder

Brentwood Bay fruit stand plundered on first day of season

Leeanne and Jack Guthrie dismayed to find money and fruit stolen from roadside stand

Victoria woman accesses healing Burn Fund resources 45 years after injury

Stasi Manser was burned when she was five years old and now works as an adult burn survivor advocate

Island Health issues safer drug-use tips ahead of music festival season

Health authority aims to reduce overdose risks at festivals

VIDEO: Killer whale steals fisherman’s catch off North Coast

Fishing duel results in eager orca snagging salmon in Prince Rupert

POLL: Do you think the penalty should be increased for tossing a burning cigarette from a vehicle?

With grasslands and forests around Vancouver Island and across B.C. reaching tinder… Continue reading

Greater Victoria wanted list for the week of June 25

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

PHOTOS: North Island home gutted in fire deemed ‘suspicious’

No injuries reported; firefighters prevented blaze from spreading

Child killed after being hit in driveway on Vancouver Island

The driver of the vehicle remained at the crash scene and is fully cooperating

Eating sandwiches, putting on makeup behind the wheel could land you a fine

RCMP say if you cause an accident while eating you could be penalized

Cat badly hurt in animal trap was likely stuck for days, B.C. owner says

Blu, a three-year-old house cat, suffered severe damage to his hind leg after being stuck in trap for days

Vancouver Island woman assaulted after confronting thief

RCMP warn residents to call for police assistance

40 cats surrendered in apparent hoarding at B.C. home

Officers found the cats living among piles of garbage and feces, suffering from fleas

Most Read