Saturday, April 06, 2013

Chinook Salmon Pen Project Port Credit

Salmon sent to pen for 3 to 6 weeks. 

About 10,000 baby Chinook salmon, called parrs, were moved today from a tank in a Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) truck to a holding pen in the river at the  Credit Village Marina.

On hand to help in the salmon transfer were representatives from three levels of government, local businessmen including charter boat operators, members of the Port Credit Salmon and Trout Association (PCSTA), area residents and visitors.

Over the next three to six weeks, these baby-salmon parrs will roughly double in size, becoming 'teenage salmon' known as smolts. The process is aided by warming water temperatures. The smolts will be towed, pen and all, down the Credit River and out into Lake Ontario, where they will be released to grow into adult salmon. The time frame depends on the water temperature; while it's been a very cold spring so far, weather conditions can change suddenly.

View of Credit Village Marina docks and sign across river to Lighthouse.
Salmon Pen Sign, Credit Village Marina Docks, Port Credit Ontario
 The PCSTA posted a sign at the docks entrance near the marina office, located south of Lakeshore, west of Stavebank, to mark the installation of the holding pen and young salmon. Seen from here, the pen is located in the water on the far docks in line with the lighthouse. This is one of seven pen projects on the Canada side of Lake Ontario, all operated by volunteers.

Information table at Credit Village Marina, PCSTA booth on patio.
Port Credit Salmon and Trout Association (PCSTA) Information 
 The PCSTA formed in April, 2010, "to organize local interest in supporting Lake Ontarios's salmon and trout populations."  In addition to these 10,000 salmon, another 70,000 salmon are released further north on the Credit River.

Historically, Port Credit had a strong commercial fishing industry, and while these days, fishing is purely recreational, it remains very important to the area's economy, including a number of charter boat operators, all looking for Port Credit's share of Lake Ontario's $180 million Chinook Salmon industry.
Salmon Pen day attendees at MNR truck, Port Credit marina include Councillor Jim Tovey, MPP Charles Sousa, MP Stella Ambler.
Jim Tovey (left), Charles Sousa, Stella Ambler Salmon Pen Day
Councillor Tovey, MPP Charles Sousa and MP Stella Ambler were among the two-man crews who carried the fairly-heavy pails of parr-in-water along the docks to the pen.

Each year, the MNR releases about 300,000 Chinook salmon in Ontario, all of which come from eggs (roe) gathered from Credit River Chinooks.

MNR Technician with a Net full of Salmon 
The salmon were hatched at the MNR's Normandale fish hatchery, and moved in special tanks by truck to Port Credit. The MNR technician first scooped tank water into the large pails, then added a few netfuls of parrs for the volunteers to hand-carry to the pen.

Large bucket of salmon parrs in water carried by Councillor Tovey and MP Ambler.
Councillor Tovey and MP Ambler Carry Pail of Parrs to Pen
As the young salmon mature, triggered by warming water temperatures to 'smolt',  they imprint Port Credit as their home for future spawnings, says the PCSTA, noting that future research is needed to determine if, as suspected, that pen-raised salmon have a better survival rate.

Releasing the salmon into the pen, Port Credit.
A crowd watches from the docks as salmon are poured from their buckets into the pen. The pen is basically a floating cage the size of a small car. Salmon will be fed regularly over the coming weeks, and nearly double in length to about 4 inches by the time they are released.

 The salmon seemed to handle the move well, as none were 'floaters', and soon swimming around the pen, flashing their silver sides in the spring sunlight.

Dave Fodor, left, empties salmon into the Pen.
Dave Fodor, of Fish on Charter, was one of several charter boat operators on hand to help move the salmon.  Most operate out of the boat docks across the river, south of the landmark lighthouse in Marina Park, where there is also a public boat launch.

Marina Park is also an official weighing station for the Great Ontario Salmon Derby, held each summer. See my previous blog post about the GOSD and Marina Park.

Engraving text: In dedication of John Powers Imprinting pen donated by Strait Line Anglers  through the generosity of its members and the following sponsors: All Tool Manufacturing Grimsby Tackle Petro Canada
Engraving on the Salmon Imprinting Pen 
A thin strip of engraved metal bears the following inscription:

In dedication of John Powers
Imprinting pen donated by Strait Line Anglers
 through the generosity of its members and the following sponsors:
All Tool Manufacturing
Grimsby Tackle
Petro Canada

For more information, see the PCSTA Site

The PCSTA is also involved in a new salmon-related initiative in Port Credit. Called The Hatchery Project,  it's working with community partners to turn the Port Credit pumping station buildings located at the foot of Mississauga Road at Saddington Park into a demonstration fish hatchery and fisheries resource centre.

The City of Mississauga has approved the project in principle, and funding is being sought to create an educational community resource in these heritage buildings.