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Expo attracts hundreds to Powell River Salmon Society facility

Article from The Peak - October 25th, 2022 - Paul Galinski

More than 600 School District 47 students travelled out to the Alex Dobler Centre at Lang Creek to attend a salmon education exposition.

From October 17 to 20, students got to see live salmon that were being collected for the hatchery and to spawn in Lang Creek. They received information on salmon biology, plus, they were able to see models of the species of fish that inhabit local waters, and tour Powell River Salmon Society’s expansive facility at Lang Creek.

Tyler Bartfai, a hatchery technician with the society, said during the COVID-19 pandemic, salmon expos were held, but this year, the expo had expanded, running four days instead of three, with more sponsors.

“We’re trying to get more people interested and involved in the salmon ecosystem and salmon in general,” said Bartfai. “It’s nice to try and help ensure the work we are doing doesn’t just stop when we are done with our salmon cycle. It’s nice to have people advocating for salmon and making decisions that don’t harmfully impact salmon habitat.”

Bartfai said it’s a special time when the students go to the hatchery.

“It’s definitely a culmination of all of our efforts,” added Bartfai. “Strong fish returns are always fantastic and to be able to share that with the community is always great. To have interested young minds who are asking high-level questions and getting really dialed into things is great.

“All of the staff and volunteers are stoked to be out here doing it.”

In terms of salmon returns this year, Bartfai said the coho run is quite strong. He said the chinook run is still waiting for water so it’s a bit too early to tell about run strength. The chum run, he added, is in the same boat as chinook, but time will tell.

In addition to tours of the hatchery, Bartfai said the salmon society will continue with its program in schools to have salmon eggs, stored in special aquariums, placed in classrooms, so students can learn more about the early life cycle of salmon.

“We’ve added a few more of our education incubator units to our arsenal this year,” he added. “We have about nine that will be going out to schools in this school district, as well as to Powell River Public Library.”

Salmon society hatchery manager Shane Dobler said the expo went really well, with an open house at the end of the week attracting greater numbers than were anticipated.

“It is a community effort, right from the top of the watershed to the hatchery,” said Dobler. “We’re having decent fish returns. Some of them, we’d like to see more, for sure, but in terms of the community effort, the part that we control, it’s excellent.”

Dobler said that during the expo, the society received a lot of positive feedback. He said in future years, the society is going to try to expand involvement from the various sectors involved in the salmon industry and those involved in the habitat for the fish.

Dobler said the program at the salmon society is significant. The hatchery releases up to two million fish annually of a variety of species.

Spawning time is an important window and Dobler said opening the Lang Creek facility up so students and the community can participate is important. The salmon expo is a great opportunity to enrich young minds of students who are in attendance, he added.

“I feel good about what we just did and we’ll look at how we can improve in the future,” said Dobler. “There’s a lot of community interest in the facility and that’s what we need to be successful, as an organization and for the fish.

“We’re always trying to improve in every area. It’s not as simple as just creating fish and letting them go.”

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