The build up of the current Pandemic and subsequent lock down has had a marked effect on operations at the hatchery.
Just at a time when a good number of adult fish began to turn up at the hatchery, we had to make some drastic changes to hatchery operations to comply with Level 2 then level 4 lock down rules. Firstly we clarified with the Ministry of Primary Industries that we were classed as an essential service under "animal/fish welfare and the survival of a species". Secondly we produced a strict SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) for anyone working at the hatchery plus a trace-ability list. Anyone working at the hatchery has to sign the document to show they will comply. Attendance has been kept to an absolute minimum and only essential jobs are being done. Family "bubbles" are strictly reinforced.
To date around 85 adult fish have returned from their sojourn in the ocean and have been trapped and located in adult pens at the hatchery. This comprises 50 female fish and 30 odd males.
We kept a number of fish back from our 2018 release as broodstock as a backstop in case the salmon run petered out altogether and fed and looked after them in one of the raceways. These fish began to mature from the beginning of March and stopped eating as they would in the wild.
Because of the decision to cut back somewhat on the workload for hatchery volunteers, it was decided to release some of these into McKinnon's creek and let them spawn naturally in the stream. So in mid March, after separating the males from the female fish, we released 235 females and 80 males back into the stream. To date these fish have dispersed throughout the creek and some "redds" have already been spotted.