Right from the inauguration of the group, Juan de Fuca Salmon Restoration Society, discussions often focused on the desire for a salmon interpretive centre to spearhead education on salmon habitat issues. As the park-like surroundings of the Charters River seemed an inviting site, discussions were initiated with the property holder, Western Forest Products Ltd, with the idea of the organization being able to lease a small plot of land for use as an interpretive centre.
During lengthy negotiations, a turn of events changed the proceedings, so that the taxpayers of the region became owners of the relevant land in the area around the Charters River. The Capital Regional District acquired a substantial block of land from Western Forest Products, and in time, a 1.5 HA piece, running from the Charters River northward, was leased by the CRD to the Juan de Fuca Salmon Restoration Society.
Early in 2010, the Pacific Salmon Foundation, utilizing an opportunity made available by Western Economic Diversification Canada, was able to access funding enabling assistance to the development and construction of interpretive centres, and suggested the Juan de Fuca Salmon Restoration Society make application. Good news followed, and this funding, doubled and tripled by many generous donors, in cash and in kind, has resulted in a fledgling developing interpretive centre and a small demonstration hatchery.
The Society’s demonstration hatchery works under permit from the Department of Fisheries & Oceans, its purposes twofold: to provide opportunities for viewing of fry growing in tanks during the spring season and for school class tours in the October/November spawning season.
After the harvested eggs and milt are carefully nurtured in the hatchery’s incubation trays, they are transferred to tanks, where volunteers take care of feeding and sanitation to the highest standards. At the appropriate stage of development, volunteers take on another chore, clipping the adipose fin of thousands of fry in order to identify them as hatchery-produced fish. When they are released into the Charters and Sooke Rivers to continue their growth, this ensures that the Juan de Fuca Salmon Restoration Society plays a role in increasing the stocks of catchable salmon.
Note: It should be noted that Sooke has a production hatchery on Rock Creek, on the upper DeMamiel. This is operated by the Sooke Salmon Enhancement Society, a dedicated group that has spent four decades working to increase salmon stocks in the Sooke River watershed and operating their Jack Brooks hatchery. Please click here for a link to the Sooke Salmon Enhancement Society’s website.
Juan de Fuca Salmon Restoration Society is appreciative of the mentoring and assistance provided to the organization by the long serving volunteers of the senior group, Sooke Salmon Enhancement Society.