At our Nelson Creek hatchery we incubate up to130,000 fertilized coho and chum fry eggs annually. Chum eggs are obtained from the Allouette Hatchery in Maple Ridge and coho eggs from the Capilano River Hatchery. Both hatcheries are operated by Fisheries and Oceans Canada. We release the fry into several West Vancouver creeks in April and June.
Volunteer members conduct all aspects of hatchery work, from harvesting spawning salmon for the eggs and milt, to daily feeding of fry and releasing fry into local creeks. All our work is conducted under the supervision of a Community Advisor with Fisheries and Oceans Canada.
The hatchery was built in 1991 and we have operated it since 1997. Water for the hatchery is drawn from a dam on Nelson Creek that was once used to supply drinking water to the Horseshoe Bay area.
On November 2nd 2022, Nelson Creek hatchery volunteers participated in a chum egg take at Alouette hatchery, Maple Ridge. Under the guidance of DFO Community Advisor Malcolm Wigham, the eggs and milt were then transported back to our hatchery and for the first time the fertilization process was carried out there. In years past we have received eggs at the eyed stage of development so this process was an exciting addition to our hatchery operation Approximately 81,000 chum eggs were transferred into incubation trays and monitored through the winter months.
This year we saw a 10% approx loss of developing chum eggs due to fungal infection which struck rapidly and aggressively in December. Similar losses in all salmon species occurred across the region, both at community hatcheries and major facilities alike; losses ranged between 10% and 60% in the worst case. Low water in the rivers combined with higher temperatures during the summer and early fall led to adult spawners becoming stressed and presenting in poor condition. They were subsequently more susceptible to parasitic infection and their eggs less resistant to fungal attack.
In mid May our remaining healthy chum fry were released into Eagle and Nelson Creeks.
The 5,000 approx Coho eyed eggs given to us in late February by Capilano hatchery hatched in April and were ponded to the outside trough the day the chum left.
Two weeks prior to their release, volunteers gathered at our hatchery to clip the adipose fins from the anaesthetised fry. Clipping is done to enable identification of adult spawners as hatchery fish when they return in the fall
After being fed daily for 8 weeks the healthy and chubby Coho fry were placed into Nelson Creek on July 10th where they will stay for a year before heading out to sea next spring.
Grateful thanks go to our dedicated volunteers –egg-takers, fish feeders, fin clippers and fry releasers who gave their time between November and July to ensure the success of another season of chum and Coho rearing!
Jan Moger & Leslie Shuparski Hatchery Managers
The 2021-2022 fry raising season came to a close with the release of the final coho fry on June 28th.
On April 25th and 26th we had previously released our 63,000 chum fry and almost 20,000 coho fry were released by our dedicated volunteers into Cypress, Nelson, Eagle and Wood Creeks on June 27th and 28th. The prolonged cold spring had resulted in a slow start to the coho feeding and growth but on release the fish were strong and healthy with an average weight of 1.7 gram.
This year we fin clipped the coho fry: a first for our hatchery. Clipping of the adipose fin (fish are anaesthetised) is in line with DFO recommendations and will assist in identification of hatchery fish in future spawner and fry salmon surveys. The long term vision is to re-establish runs and ultimately enable closure of the hatchery; we will need to clip for 4 years before we start to see any sign of clipped hatchery fish in our creeks.
It was heartening to see the enthusiasm of our member volunteers who came to assist in all areas of hatchery operations between December and June: egg picking, feeding, clipping and fry releases.
Volunteers range in age from elementary students to retirees and there is a strong commitment amongst our membership to contribute to the enhancement program and creek care in general. The locations and approximate numbers for the whole season are as follows:
On December 3rd 2020, 100,000 eyed chum eggs were delivered to the Nelson Creek Hatchery from the South Allouette River Hatchery out in Maple Ridge. Favourable chum returns allowed the full quota to be allocated to our hatchery this year; last year saw poor returns and consequently a reduced number of eggs allotted to us. The eggs were tended by volunteers until they had all hatched by December 30th 2020. After this, they were left to absorb their egg sacs (buttoning up) and develop into fry. Once the fry stage was reached, they were placed into the two outside troughs on March 22nd 2021. This process is known as ponding. Volunteers fed them and cleaned the troughs daily for three weeks until on April 14th and 16th 2021 the fry were released into West Vancouver Creeks under the guidance of DFO Community Advisor Malcolm Wigham and with the help of volunteers. Chum go out to sea almost immediately once released, spending just a couple of days in the streams
Capilano Hatchery was the source for the 22,700 eyed coho eggs that arrived on February 26th. The same development process followed as for the chum, with hatching occurring by April 1st, ponding on May 10th and release on June 30th. The feeding and cleaning stage lasted longer for coho, 52 days in all, during which they developed to a robust weight of 2g. per fish.
Once again guided by CA Malcolm Wigham, our dedicated volunteers placed the fry into carefully chosen locations in local streams using the scatter release method. This method of spreading out placement improves their chances of survival, decreases predator risk and lessens the impact on any resident fry and food sources. Coho fry will spend a year in the stream before heading out to sea. The local creeks selected this year to receive fish were Cypress, Nelson, Eagle, Rodgers and Lawson,
The Nelson Creek hatchery received 34000.eyed chum eggs from the Allouette Hatchery in Maple Ridge on December 17th 2019. The eggs all hatched to alevin by Dec 29th. Once button-up, these fry were ponded to an outside trough and fed for a week before being released in the evening of April 9th by DFO Community Advisors. No volunteer involvement was allowed due to Covid-19 restrictions.
On February 20th, 22,358 coho eyed eggs arrived from Capilano hatchery. They all hatched by March 30th. Ponding to an outside trough was done on May 2nd 21,752. The fry reached an average weight of 2.7 g during the period of 54 days spent in the trough.
On June 25th and 26th they were placed in local streams using the scatter release method. This means they were placed in several locations on each stream for better survival rate , decreased predator risk and less chance of overcoming resident wild fry . They will spend a year in the stream before heading out to sea. The local creeks chosen to receive fish were Cypress, Nelson, Eagle, Wood and Rodgers McDonald, Lawson, West Brothers and Hadden.
The Nelson Creek hatchery received 105,490 eyed chum eggs from the Allouette Hatchery in Maple Ridge on December 10th 2018. The eggs all hatched to alevin by Dec 28th. Ponding to troughs outside was carried out over two days March 22nd and 23rd as not all alevin were “buttoned-up” ready to be ponded in one session. The fry were fed for three weeks before being released in the evenings to decrease predator risk on April 15th into Eagle and Rodgers creeks and April 16th into McDonald and Lawson creeks. Their average weight was just over 0.5g
On February 8th eyed coho eggs came from Capilano hatchery. They all hatched by March 28th, again another late hatching due to weather. Ponding to outside troughs was done on April 28th by which time they were sturdy fry with an average weight of 1.7 gr. On June 12th and June 13th they were placed in local streams using the scatter release method. This means they were put in several locations on each stream for better survival rate and decreased predator risk as they spend a year in the stream before heading out to sea. The local creeks receiving fish were Cypress, Nelson, Eagle, Wood and Rodgers McDonald, Lawson, West Brothers and Hadden. Larson was not included this year due to the debris in the stream and at the mouth impairing fish movement.
The Nelson Creek Hatchery received 102,110 eyed chum eggs from the Allouette Hatchery on November 29, 2017. The chum hatched to alevin on December 31 and were ponded on March 21. They were fed for two weeks before being released on April 5 weighing 0.51 grams. For the past several years, the chum have been released to Rodgers and McDonald creeks only, but this year that was expanded to include Lawson and Eagle creeks as well.
The eyed coho eggs arrived on February 7. The cold spring resulted in the second latest hatch dates in our records, on March 29. The alevin were buttoned and ready to pond on May 2. They fed heartily before being released on June 7 at 1.10 grams. The coho were released to Eagle, Nelson, Cypress, Rodgers, McDonald, Lawson, West Brothers and Hadden creeks. Coho were not released in either Larson or Wood creeks due to toxic fish kills in those creeks. However, Wood Creek had recovered sufficiently to place the last few hundred coho in Parc Verdun.
We received 101,884 eyed chum eggs from the Allouette Hatchery on November 28, 2016. Volunteers picked dead eggs from the egg trays once a week until they hatched to alevin on January 4. The alevin were left to develop quietly until they had absorbed their yolk sack and were ready to be ponded on March 28. The tiny chum were fed daily by volunteers until they were released on April 19 to Rodgers and McDonald creeks.
Meanwhile, eyed coho eggs had been delivered on February 7. They hatched on March 22 and were ponded on April 30. June 7 the coho were released to Eagle, Nelson, Larson, Cypress, Rodgers, McDonald, Lawson, West Brothers, and Wood creeks. Neither of our long-standing classroom releases were held in 2017; Eagle Harbour school declined to participate in the afterschool release of fish to Wood Creek, and an available class could not be found for the school release to Hadden Creek at Capilano Golf Course.
On December 11, 2015 100,000 eyed chum eggs were brought to the Nelson Creek Hatchery from the Allouette Hatchery. They hatched on December 28 and were ponded to outside troughs on March 2. After a few weeks of feeding, the chum were released to Rodgers and McDonald creeks on March 23. They weighed about 0.6 grams.
Just over 30,000 eyed coho eggs were delivered on February 23 from the Capilano Hatchery. They hatched to alevin on March 21 and were ponded to troughs as fry on April 23. The bulk of the coho were released on June 8 to Eagle, Nelson, Larson, Rodgers, West Brothers, McDonald and Lawson. There were also earlier releases done with the help of school children; one to Wood Creek at Parc Verdun and one to Hadden Creek at the Capilano Golf Course.
Our chum eggs arrived early this year. On December 14, 2014 we received 100,232 eyed chum eggs from the Alouette Hatchery. The eggs hatched to alevin on January 16. The mortality rate was just over 1%.
The alevin buttoned and were ponded to outdoor troughs on March 7. Hatchery workers fed the fry once a day and removed a small number of dead fry. The fry were released on April 17, divided between McDonald and Rodgers creeks. At the time of release, the fry weighed one gram.
Approximately 30,000 eyed coho eggs arrived on February 12. About 0.5% of the eggs died and were removed. The eggs hatched on March 13. The alevin had absorbed their yolk sacks and were ponded to outdoor troughs on April 20, just after the troughs were vacated by the chum.
Hatchery volunteers fed the coho fry daily for about six weeks. The fry were released on June 2 to Hadden, Eagle, Nelson, Larson, Rodgers, McDonald, Lawson and West Brothers creeks. They weighed 1.3 grams on average at that point.
An additional 1,000 coho smolts from the Capilano Hatchery were released to McDonald Creek at Memorial Park on April 25 during the annual Adopt-a-Fish community event.
Our hatchery received about 120,000 eyed chum eggs from the Tenderfoot Hatchery in early 2014. Before hatching at the end of January, the eggs experienced an excellent mortality rate of around 1%. The chum were ponded (moved from the incubation trays inside the hatchery to the troughs outside) at the end of March. They were released into Rodgers and McDonald creeks on April 24 weighing about 0.7 grams each.
Approximately 40,000 eyed coho eggs from the Capilano River Hatchery arrived in early February. The mortality rate was about 4.5%. The eggs hatched on March 24 and were ponded on May 2. The fry were released into Wood Creek at Parc Verdun on May 26 and into Hadden Creek at the Capilano Golf Course on May 29.
Streamkeeper volunteers released of the rest of the coho on June 11 into Eagle, Nelson, Larson, Caulfield, Willow, Cypress, Rodgers, McDonald, Lawson, and West Brothers creeks. The fry weighed a healthy 1.3 grams at release.
An excellent Christmas gift after two years without chum: 190,390 eyed chum eggs arrived on December 22, 2012. The eggs hatched on February 2 and were an exceptionally healthy bunch, with a mortality rate of about 0.3%.
We ponded chum on March 30 and released them on April 25 and 26 into Rodgers, McDonald, Eagle, Nelson, Willow and Cypress creeks. The fry weighed an average of 0.66 grams at release.
Just over 60,000 coho eggs arrived from Capilano River Hatchery on February 11. The eggs hatched on March 17 and the mortality rate was about 1%. The coho were ponded on April 28. A few thousand were released in special events at Parc Verdun (Wood Creek) on May 9 and the Capilano Golf Course (Hadden Creek) on May 13. The majority were released across the municipality on May 14 (Eagle, Nelson, Larson, Caulfield, Willow, Cypress, Rodgers, McDonald, Lawson and West Brothers creeks). The coho weighed almost half a gram at release.
Coho smolts from the Capilano River Hatchery were released to lower McDonald Creek at Memorial Park for the Adopt-A-Fish event on April 27.
It was a bumper year for tailed frog tadpoles at our Nelson Creek hatchery. Approximately 700 tadpoles were swept into the troughs through the water system. Hatchery volunteers carefully collected them and placed them into Nelson Creek downstream of the intake.
This spring we tried a new system to fill the tank truck used to transport the salmon fry. We borrowed a fire hose from the municipality and reworked a dead end in the plumbing system. It worked well, and saved the backs of volunteers who used to supplement the slow garden hose with buckets of water. Other changes included erecting sign frame recycled from the District that we will use for public information. The District plans to replace the valve into the settling tank to improve water regulation from Nelson Creek. Thank you to all the helpful and interested District employees!
On January 27 we received 60,000 eyed coho eggs from the Capilano Hatchery. In the past we have also obtained chum eggs from the Tenderfoot Hatchery in Squamish. However for the second year in a row we did not receive chum eggs due to poor regional returns of chum.
The coho eggs were all hatched by March 20th. The total number of picked dead eggs was 1437, or two percent. The alevin buttoned and were ponded on April 26. The fry were large and healthy and enthusiastic feeders. A thousand fry were let go into Wood Creek at Parc Verdun by Eagle Harbour School students on May 25th. On May 29 and 30 the bulk of the coho were released into Larson, Nelson, Eagle, Caulfield, Rodgers, Pipe, McDonald, Lawson and West Brothers creeks. The remaining 4000 coho went to Hadden Creek at the Capilano Golf Course on May 31.
Coho smolts from the Capilano Hatchery were released into lower McDonald Creek for Adopt-A-Fish on April 30.
The District of West Vancouver has completed a number of improvements to the hatchery area and water system. The changes include cleaning and upgrading the water delivery system, installing a seasonal back up water delivery system and low water alarm, and improving the security around the hatchery area.
On January 26th 2011 we received 67,000 eyed coho eggs from the Capilano Hatchery. In other years we have also obtained chum eggs from the Tenderfoot Hatchery in Squamish. However, the chum returns in the fall of 2010 were less than ten percent of normal levels, so there were no chum eggs to spare for our hatchery.
We knew beforehand that the coho eggs had thin and fragile shells, an occasional natural occurrence. Our volunteers gently coddled the eggs through to the alevin stage and lost just under thirteen percent, leaving us with about 59,000 coho. The eggs hatched to alevin on March 14. The alevin buttoned and were ponded on April 29th. Our fry were very healthy and aggressive feeders, and like natural jumpers that coho are, they were often observed trying to jump up the falling water entering the troughs. The coho averaged 1.4 grams at release.
West Vancouver District staff removed the silt from the settling tank upstream of the hatchery on June 9th without first contacting hatchery staff or DFO. Water flow to the hatchery was cut off during the cleaning, and the result was the deaths of approximately 15,000 coho, one quarter of the fish at the hatchery. Volunteers were devastated. The District has proposed several improvements and changes to the hatchery system to lessen the possibility that this will happen in the future.
The Nelson Creek Hatchery coho were released on June 12th to Eagle, Nelson, Willow, Cypress, Lawson and McDonald creeks. A few hundred coho were released to Wood Creek at Parc Verdun on June 10th with the help of school children from Eagle Harbour Primary School and other neighbourhood kids. Surplus coho fry from the Capilano Hatchery were released to West Brothers, Brothers, Marr, Godman, Pipe, Caulfield, Larson and Hadden creeks. A small number of coho smolts were released to McDonald Creek at Memorial Park as a children’s fish release on April 30th.
A severe storm and resultant debris flow in late December damaged the intake dam and blocked the water pipe. The municipality worked to get the water flowing, but not in time to transfer this year’s chum eggs from the Tenderfoot Hatchery. As this was not the first time the intake has been blocked by small debris (see summary for 2007) DFO decided that the hatchery would not receive salmon eggs in 2010. Instead, the hatchery received newly emerged fry and raised them before releasing them to creeks across West Vancouver. Chum fry were released to Eagle, Rodgers and McDonald creeks. Coho fry were released to Cypress, McDonald, Rodgers, Lawson, Eagle, Willow, Wood, Nelson, Godman, Hadden, West Brothers, and Brothers creeks. Pink salmon fry were released to Brothers and Cypress creeks. Fry releases also included newly emerged coho fry from the Capilano Hatchery and pinks from the Seymour Hatchery.
On December 31st 2008 we received 100,750 chum eggs from the Tenderfoot Hatchery. On January 16th, approximately 64,000 eyed coho eggs arrived from the Capilano Hatchery. The cold winter and spring weather slowed development of the coho and chum fry. All the chum were hatched by February 20th and the coho were hatched by the end of March. The chums were ponded into the troughs on April 19th and the coho were ponded on May 5th- three weeks later than usual!
On May 1st about half the chum fry were released to Larson, Eagle, Willow, Claymore and Cypress creeks. The rest were released to Rodgers, McDonald and Lawson creeks on May 2nd. The coho were released on May 19th and 21st to Hadden, McBeth, Lawson, McDonald, Rodgers, Cypress, Willow, Eagle, Nelson and Lawson creeks. The popular Eagle Harbour neighbourhood fry release of 600 coho was on June 2nd in Parc Verdun.
On January 2nd we received 50,300 eyed chum eggs from the Tenderfoot Hatchery in Squamish. A poor chum return in the fall of 2007 resulted in our hatchery receiving about one quarter of the usual number of chum eggs. On January 24 68,800 eyed coho eggs arrived from Capilano Hatchery. All the chum were hatched by February 16th, and the coho were hatched by March 24th. The chums were ponded April 12th and the coho were ponded on May 4th. Nelson Creek hatchery chum smolts are usually used for Adopt A Fish on McDonald Creek in Memorial Park, however this year the chum were so newly ponded that 600 coho smolts from the Capilano Hatchery were released instead.
On April 29th the chum smolts divided among Larson, Rodgers, Lawson & McDonald creeks.
The Nelson Creek hatchery coho fry were released to Larson, Nelson, Eagle, Claymore, Willow, Cypress, Rodgers, McDonald and Lawson creeks on May 15th and 16th.
Approximately 140,000 surplus coho fry from the Capilano Hatchery were released to West Vancouver creeks on May 2nd and May 6th. The fry were placed in Hadden Creek at the Capilano Golf course, Brothers Tributary at Palmerston, and upper Brothers , Godman, Caulfield, Pipe and Marr creeks. And finally, just over 1000 of the Nelson Creek coho fry were released to Wood Creek at Parc Verdun as a neighbourhood event with the Eagle Harbour Primary school children on May 28th.
The Nelson Creek Hatchery received about 177,000 eyed chum eggs from the Tenderfoot Hatchery on January 4th, and 60,000 eyed coho eggs from the Capilano Hatchery on January 9th. The chum eggs hatched in mid-February and the coho eggs hatched in early March. Unfortunately in late March small organic debris and silt from the windy winter storms blocked the intake on Nelson Creek and cut off the water supply. Over 90 percent of the coho and chum alevins died. The survivors were ponded immediately into the troughs and later released to Eagle Creek, a creek with a good record of salmon returns.
Unfed fry from the Capilano Hatchery were released to most of the creeks across West Vancouver. Capilano Hatchery also generously donated coho smolts for release in McDonald Creek for Adopt-A-Fish day. One thousand coho fry from the Capilano Hatchery were fed at the Nelson Creek Hatchery for a few weeks before being let go into Wood Creek for the Parc Verdun children’s fish release.
The Nelson Creek Hatchery received about 200,000 chum eggs from the Tenderfoot Hatchery on January 4th, and 56,000 coho eggs from the Capilano Hatchery on February 10th. The chum were all ponded by early April. The chum fry were released in late April to Lawson, McDonald, Cypress, Willow, Claymore, Wood, Eagle, Nelson, Larson and Rodgers creeks.
The coho eggs hatched in late March and were ready to be ponded in early May. The coho fry were released in mid to late May to West Brothers tributary, Lawson, McDonald, Cypress, Willow, Claymore, Wood, Eagle, Nelson, Larson and Rodgers creeks.
Unfed surplus coho fry from the Capilano Hatchery were released to upper Brothers, West Brothers tributary, Lawson, McDonald, Marr, upper Cypress, Pipe and Rodgers creeks.
Prior to the release of any hatchery fish, wild spawned coho fry were observed in Dogwood, Lawson, Rodgers and Eagle creeks.