The Hatchery group (Salmon and Riparian Support Trust) will have its AGM on Wednesday 20th July at 7.00pm at CSI Fish and Game rooms in Temuka. Come along and get the latest about the hatchery.
The first 4 trays of eggs that were put down on the 3rd of May were starting to hatch on the 14th June. These were from unclipped salmon that returned to the hatchery and were either wild strays or were hatched in McKinnon's creek itself. These number about 4500 and some of this group will be kept for brood stock for the future.
As of 22nd May, 5 out of the 6 incubator stacks have eggs hatching out. There have bee some mortality in the eggs but not unexpected numbers and not significant. We expect more than 100,000 fish to survive. Filtering the creek water through the shed and still keeping a good flow is still a challenge and the amount of silt going through is an eternal problem.
The egg pickers have done a great job.
Next year's 3 year old brood stock were transferred to the North race after it was cleaned out and some maintenance carried out. Hatchery volunteer John Manning built a new stainless steel screen which was installed and will be a big help separating age groups. Thanks go to all those volunteers who helped over the last year. Click photos to enlarge.
Reprinted from "Courier" article.
Volunteers at the McKinnon’s Creek salmon hatchery at Rangitata were hard at it again on Tuesday 17th for their final day fish stripping and fertilization of this year’s salmon eggs. The fertilized eggs are subsequently installed in special incubating trays where they remain for roughly 80 days after hatching and absorbing their eggs sac to becoming fully fledged salmon fry. It’s a very busy time at the hatchery at present says Phil deJoux who is the Chairperson of the group that operate the hatchery. Once hatched, the fish will be kept at the hatchery for approximately one year before being released back in to the Rangitata river. They will then spend 2 years at sea growing to around 7 or 8 Kilos under ideal conditions, before returning to the river for anglers to catch. Some will return to the hatchery to become brood stock for the future.
Volunteers at the hatchery are mostly retired and enjoy the variation of tasks required to operate a modern hatchery. Over the past 2 years, the hatchery has upgraded all of its SOPs, Biosecurity measures, Health and Safety plans and a host of other requirements to be able to keep operating.
The hatchery which started in 2006, enjoys wide support from the community and is playing its part in providing an increased opportunity for anglers to catch a salmon in the Rangitata river during the fishing season. Recently it has been involved with assisting the Winnemem Wintu Indian tribe of North America with genetic data from local fish populations in conjunction with CSI Fish and Game.
Phil reports that around 221,000 salmon eggs are under incubation at the hatchery which augers well for future salmon seasons on the Rangitata. The next big focus is picking over the 221,000 eggs to remove any dead ones from the incubation trays. This is a time consuming job but it’s a great chance for a chat and a catch up over the winter with our volunteers. Anyone wishing to become involved should contact Phil on 0274422454
By all accounts more wild Salmon came in to the Rangitata in November/December this season than has been the case for the last few years. Unfortunately the river was a bit clouded for good fishing and they got well up river before the river cleared.
More fish have returned to the hatchery as well and so far we have had around 25 through the trap. This is many more than last year. We have got our fingers crossed that we have bottomed out in terms of poor returns. With our land based brood stock and fish that have returned, we should reach our goal of 110,000 fry for this year. This will still be a challenge for our small band of dedicated volunteers but we are still all passionate about the project. We need help, if anyone is available please let us know. Call 0274422454 if this plea finds favor with you or someone you may know.
We have 6000 almost yearling fry ready to release back to the river however 500 of these will be used to test the by-pass at the new RDR fish screen. These will be released up river and checked once they have passed the screen to check that they have got passed un-damaged. Its in all our interests to make sure this by-pass is working effectively. The scheme should be commissioned around September by all accounts.
The few hatchery volunteers that we have are once again facing a busy year with the prospect of reasonable numbers of fish returning to the hatchery to be part of the program along with 3 year old brood stock fish held at the hatchery. Help at the hatchery has waned in the last couple of years which can be put down to negative comments from a few individuals and the fact that our helpers are all getting on in years and the continued commitment is taking its toll.
The hatchery at McKinnon's creek was set up initially to bring more salmon back to the Rangitata river, and others, for anglers to catch and this remains true today. Unfortunately returns to the hatchery have dwindled in the past few years along with salmon in other Canterbury rivers and this has also contributed to volunteers deciding not to carry on. This of course is understandable however the upshot is that we either shut up shop altogether or urgently attract more passionate individuals to help with the day to day running of the hatchery.
The McKinnon's Creek hatchery has a future and there are a number of possibilities down the track that will secure this, but we must have more help. A new volunteer recently to the hatchery when asked why he came out to help stated that anyone doing something to help save the salmon run, is worth supporting. A great sentiment.
At present we have around 6000 fish to release later in the year when ideal conditions prevail. These fish were fin clipped a few days ago. Many thanks to those who were asked and came along to help.
A big thanks also to those individuals who helped with the Winnemem Wintu Salmon sampling program last winter. This program was to help with genetic matching of salmon in NZ for the North American First nation people and done in conjunction with CSI Fish & Game. The tribe made a financial donation to our hatchery for our help which was gratefully received and we have communicated to them our thanks.
If anyone can help us in the future please contact Phil (0274422454) or Alan (033392139). Helpers need to be relatively close to the area (Timaru - Ashburton) and be prepared to travel to the hatchery on the lower Rangitata river, South side. Full training will be given and an interesting and worthwhile experience is assured.
Its been a while since the last update however things have progressed well at the hatchery under the expert help of our much reduced team. Covid has forced us to do things a bit different this year with a reduced number of visits and a smaller team. All the fish are doing well, that includes the 8000 rising 1 year olds, and the remainder of 2 and 3 year old fish.
We fitted a new vacuum head in the raceways during the winter which is much lighter, easier to handle and more effective so that now works well.
Mt Cook Salmon kindly donated us some material they have used on walkways etc and we have put the material to good use, covering our bridges and walkways. This makes walking on these sometimes damp areas much safer. see photos.
Parts of McKinnon's Creek have been refenced to allow for DOC plantings in the riparian areas to try to reduce farm run off into the stream.
Our old van, donated by "I Pave Ltd" has nearly given up the ghost and we are on the lookout for something to replace it. Given that we are all volunteers, we would be grateful if someone had something surplus to requirements that we could use that they might like to donate. It saves everyone's cars etc getting stuck in mud and covered in you know what across the farm. We could certainly come to some arrangement with any likely donator. Phone Phil. 0274422454 with any ideas. (Click to enlarge photos)
A quick update on hatchery happenings. Firstly a big thank you to all those who have helped/supported the hatchery over the past 12 months. We are at a crossroads for the hatchery and the future looks a little brighter with some interesting plans being discussed. More on that later when plans become clear.
To date this year;
We have had a continual presence at the hatchery over the winter so far.
All fish (1 year old) have been released. Total around 60,000 give or take. Last release fish moved away very quickly and river was in good order.
As of today, river is on the hatchery side and flowing directly past McKinnon's creek outlet.
A number of reeds noted in McKinnon's creek.
Our compliance with the consent for the hatchery was checked recently by ECan and apart from a couple of minor issues was passed as compliant. An SOP will be issued shortly containing all aspects of hatchery operations,
No further decisions on looking after broodstock in the future as yet but discussions on going.
All trays in incubators hatched out and 2 of the trays of zipped up fry (5000) have been put in tank 2 inside. Thanks to Graham for getting feeders up and running.
We have cancelled the weekend teams for the present and will cover the cleaning with the winter teams visit twice per week however anyone welcome to come along with them (normally tuesday and friday/saturday). Contact Phil or Dave Chambers.
Mark Webb from F&G is working through an SOP manual for the hatchery. This should be out soon.
Nitrate reading in the creek getting pretty high. 8.49.
Looks like a lot of the willow wands planted out on the river in front of hatchery might have been taken out in last flood.
For those who are on the weekend teams, there has been a whiteboard installed on the inside of the 1st container door. On this white board are the current instructions for what jobs are required including the current food sizes being fed in each feeder. This should make the weekend duties clearer for everyone.
There are also some photos posted of progress on the RDR fish screen. Work is well under way and it should be operating by Sept 2022.
We had a successful working bee on 4th June to have a bit of a clean up after the recent flooding in the area. McKinnon's creek had over flowed just above the hatchery site and flowed down the track, through the sheds etc and over the raceways. No fish were lost, just mud and scouring everywhere. Thanks to everybody who turned up. Click photos to enlarge