Windstorm wipes out 400,000 salmon at Qualicum hatchery

Windstorm wipes out 400,000 salmon at Qualicum hatchery

WATCH: A storm on Vancouver Island last week partly destroys work in a salmon restoration project. Skye Ryan reports.

The huge windstorm that cut power to thousands on Vancouver Island last week and had residents cleaning up for days has left hatchery workers on the mid-Island devastated.

A power outage on May 23, coupled by trees which fell down on wires, has wiped out the work they’ve been putting into a salmon restoration project for close to a ear. That outage cut off water pumps, which were supplying oxygen to 400,000 Coho salmon.

Les Clint, the manager of the Big Qualicum Hatchery, said he felt to his stomach the moment he realized what was happening.

“Absolutely you just feel sick,” Clint said. 

“Come around the corner and I could see the water was down about six inches in each container and the bottom was covered in dead fish.” 

Clint said he’s been doing this work for 35 years and this is the first time he has had to deal with this type of loss.

“At the same time as this windstorm created the power outage that dropped the pumps, we also had a tree down on the main road here take out our phone lines so the alarms that normally would have been triggered off did not sound,” Clint said.

The hatchery workers were able to save 5,000 of the young fish by hand. They are now being closely watched in a small tank.

“It is devastating when you see that much of a loss,” Clint said.

However, he said the loss shouldn’t have a major impact on returning stocks in four years time.

“It’s going to be a small percentage of the actual return,” says Clint.

Skye RyanSkye Ryan

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