Many thanks to the 30 plus persons who came out to the hatchery to help with the fin clipping. We clipped approx. 30% of our smolt (20,000) and the day was a great success. The new return system worked a treat and the weather also played its part.
Work has continued at the hatchery and the core group of workers have been busy upgrading feeders, installing new vacuum pump, cleaning all the equipment, preparing for fin clipping, putting shelves etc in garage etc etc.
As most of our readers will already know, the 2017/18 season for returning adult Salmon to the hatchery was nothing short of a disaster. Only 3 confirmed fish returned and these were let to spawn naturally in McKinnon's creek. There is evidence of at least 2 salmon reds in the stream. Reasons are unclear as to the poor return but it appears it is common to all rivers on the East coast of the South Island. The good news is that following on from the Salmon Symposium in Ashburton, a sea run Salmon committee has been set up under Martin Taylor (new CEO of Fish & Game) and includes our own Alan Brooks and Mathew Hall. Already a number of decisions have been made and we will keep up with them when they filter down. What pleases us is the high level decision and agreement that the Salmon fishery is in crisis and that doing nothing is not an option. Watch this space!
Latest info from Fish & Game is that about 500 Salmon reds have been counted in the Rangitata headwaters. Not great numbers especially when one realizes that the majority of resulting smolt will end up in the RDR system.
The "experimental" fish ladder had been built and it remains to be seen if fish will use it to enter the hatchery at the adult pens. We hope the a good flow of water is maintained in McKinnon's creek to give the system a good chance of working.
Some notable happenings from the start of the year.
We have had 2 notable donations already this year. The Rangitata Good Bastards group raised $2,000.00 through their raffle over Xmas and The North Rangitata Hutholders donated $2,000.00 to the hatchery from their members. We are extremely grateful for their support.
The hatchery continues to go from strength to strength thanks to all those who give their time and effort to make the venture a success. The hatchery feeders have all been overhauled with new motors and operating system. The new vacuum pump is a success and will make cleaning easier for the teams.
A new cleaning roster was published. New members are wanted to make up another team for the Sunday morning duty.
The Rangitata river has been across on the north side this year with not a good lead in to McKinnon's creek (hatchery) for any migrating fish. A digger was employed to divert a few cusecs of water down a dry stream to flow past the hatchery creek and thus make it easier for access to the hatchery. No fish have shown up as yet.
Some photos of the 4.5 cubic meters of concrete placed today for the new garage, for between the containers and some pads at the hatchery site. Great work by Steven Brook's building and his team plus our normal helpers of Dennis, Phil, Robert, Rayleen, Jackie, Rex, and Dave.
We need some help to replace the bridge over the creek, affectionately known as P Js bridge. The bridge has served us well since 2007 when P J built it but its a little the worse for wear now. It needs rebuilding a little higher and wider and we are putting a call out to any builders in the group, either retired or active to accept the challenge and give it a good facelift. We will provide all the materials but need the expert help of a builder. If anyone is interested please contact Phil or someone on the committee to come out and have a look to see what is required. We would be very grateful for help. Photo shows how the bridge has suffered lately.
Work continues over the winter months. Graeme Parnell is upgrading the motors on the raceway feeders. They have been going now for 9 years and an upgrade should see them carry on for a number of years into the future.
Robert, Rayleen, Jackie and Dave have been looking after the little fish well in the hatchery shed. They have all been removed from the incubators and transferred to the ss tanks inside the shed. About 65,000 fingerlings are growing well in the tanks.
There was some damage to tracks etc from the heavy rains in July however this has been fixed today by the "Oliver Bros" 10 ton digger.
Water was pumped from the creek today into the inside hatchery tanks while the creek by-pass to the hatchery was cleaned out. Tons of mud, weed and debris was removed by the digger and the creek was returned to a clear running stream with shingle bottom.
The area for the garage was prepared prior to concrete being poured in the next few days. The sump was cleaned out and many little jobs were cleaned up.
All the remaining fish in the spawning raceway will be released back to the Rangitata on Saturday July 8th at 11.00am. For more details and if you want to attend please call Bill Whipp (027 3767538) Robert Clarke (6159149) or Dave Chambers (6159921). Please check with these gentlemen as going across the farm together is important.
Earlier in May there was a slight problem in one of the raceways where a fish feeder malfunctioned and deposited a large amount of food into the bottom of one raceway causing some fish to die of oxygen starvation. Fortunately this was discovered early and it was decided to release the remaining number of fish in the affected raceway to be on the safe side. These fish were of an optimum size for release and consequently there will only be 30,000 to let go on the 8th. Just one of the challenges when working with high volumes of fish.