On January 21, 2016 volunteers from the Goldstream Fish Hatchery had the privilege of working in partnership with the people of the Tseycum First Nation, the Victoria Airport Authority, and BC Ministry of transport to return chum and coho salmon to Tseycum Creek.
Together, their continued efforts have been to re-establish salmon runs to Tseycum Creek and improve the ecosystems associated with it.
About 45000 chum eggs were placed in a fish incubator cassette within the creek, to create the opportunity and increase the chance that they will return as spawning adults. The idea is to have salmon return and continue to spawn for generations to come.
Upstream of the chum, about 500 coho salmon fry were released into Tseycum Creek. These coho were large and old enough enough to survive their new home. Hopefully they will return in 18-20 months as spawning adults.
In the process of beginning habitat rehabilitation of Tseycum (Wsikem) Creek, through excavating and dredging sediment, the BC Ministry of Transportation (guided by biologist, Sean Wong) discovered evidence of fish weirs used by the Tseycum people to catch salmon. According to people of Tseycum village, the return of spawning Pacific salmon had not been observed for almost twenty-five years. The salmon had been the basis of a local, active fishery: the return of the salmon had been a foundation for diet, livelihood, education, culture and spirit.
Beyond their oceanic sojourns, Pacific salmon tend to inhabit freshwater environments built by glaciers, powered by precipitation, housed by forests, and nourished by salmon returning to spawn. A salmon stream may be many thousands of years in the making. Habitat rehabilitation of Tseycum Creek began with the excavation and development of spawning pools, the removal of sediment that would suffocate salmon eggs, the replacement of cobble and gravel to hold salmon eggs, and the re-planting of native flora to prevent erosion and help stabilize creek banks. The habitat rehabilitation and stewardship of Tseycum Creek has been a task undertaken by several parties: Tseycum First Nation; BC Ministry of Transportation; Victoria Airport Authority; Goldstream Volunteer Salmonid Enhancement Association (GVSEA).
For the last two years, coho salmon fry from the Howard English Goldstream Hatchery have been placed into Tseycum Creek for the purpose of re-building a self-sustaining salmon run. Last year, chum salmon eggs (in a cassette incubator) were placed within a pool of Tseycum Creek for the very same purpose. This year, on January 21st, 2016, about 45000 chum eggs (at 360 accumulated thermal units) and 500 coho fry (nearly 1 year old) were placed in Tysecum Creek. It is the hope of this stewardship project that the young salmon will find a new home in Tysecum Creek. The continued rehabilitation of Tseycum Creek and the restoration of a tragic, historic loss depends on the return of these young salmon as spawning adults.
The salmon have returned.
Since the Autumn of last year, members of the Tseycum First Nation have participated in the enhancement of chum and coho salmon from the Goldstream river. During this time, they have practiced fishery management assessment techniques, fish husbandry techniques, and stream habitat surveys. It has been a privilege to share these teachings and experiences with Archie Jones and Robert (Bobby) Louie. It is our hope that they continue, and improve on this sharing with others.
As for the results of the Pacific salmon transplant at Tseycum Creek, the ideal return of chum will be 150 mature spawning adults (from the 45000 eggs) in 3-4 years. If successful, the coho salmon fry will be expected to return to Tseycum Creek in 18-20 months. To learn more about Pacific salmon, and other fish, consider a visit to “http://www.fishbase.org/search.php”.
Blog Article By: Ben Eardley
Intro Text By: Adam Wilson
Photography By: Alexandra Scott