We have been very fortunate to be granted $4,500 from the Mid and South Canterbury Trust to complete concrete work as a base for the garage and between the containers on site at the hatchery. The contractor will begin work on this soon and some help may be needed for site clearance.
Many hands make light work and so it was with the help Hatchery volunteers gave Fish and Game to conduct some testing at RSL. Trapping was carried out for nearly 2 weeks day and night. Many a cold night was spent at the site however the big cook ups made a difference. Around 10,000 hatchery fish were released into the Rangitata at Arundel for which the Hatchery was adequately compensated. No results are available as yet.
6 adult fish were removed from an area of the river near the intake where spawning was impractical and taken to the hatchery where the eggs were incubated and returned to a remote incubator at the RSL spawning race.
Approximately 70 adult salmon returned to the hatchery this year, no big run but just in dribs and drabs. The fish were on average a bit smaller than previous however there were a few good ones amongst them. Stripping took place over a number of days as unlike in previous years only a few became ready at any one time. This meant that crews were on hand more often for less fish this year. Also the number of eggs per fish appeared to be less than previous years with one estimation of only around 2,000 per hen. A big thanks to all who were involved.
From the hen fish, around 80,000 eggs were retrieved and with some minor losses due to infertility etc, we have nearly 70,000 under incubation. This is many less than previous years but has allowed us to keep our Rangitata programme alive and also send 5,000 eggs to 3 Springs on the Opihi, and 10,000 to RSL spawning race at Arundel.
Once again, Robert and Rayleen Clark and their teams have done a sterling job with egg picking.
On Saturday 22nd, 30 volunteers came to help plant stream side plants (Carex Sector) alongside the spawning race to improve the habitat for juvenile salmon as they live in the stream. This spawning race will prove to be a great asset in the continuing challenge to improve the salmon run in the Rangitata river. Afterwards a number stayed to listen to staff of RSL explain how the complex irrigation intake worked and also heard of the plans of a trapping system to prove the efficiency in excluding salmon fry from the scheme.
The poor return of adult Salmon to local rivers this year has prompted volunteers at the McKinnons Creek salmon hatchery to organise a planting day at the Rangitata South Irrigation Ltd spawning race, in the hope of improving the habitat of young salmon that have hatched out from salmon eggs planted in the race. Stream side plants (Carex Secta) will be planted along one bank of the race to provide a natural environment for insects and to provide shelter for fish. Chairman Phil deJoux says anyone can come and help, all that is needed is gloves, a hand trowel or pinch bar and some lunch. We will meet at the carpark on the south side of the Rangitata river bridge at Arundel at 9.30 on Saturday 22nd April.
Afterwards helpers can come along to the “open day” to be held at the Rangitata South Irrigation intake and ponds which will start at 2pm in the same area.
Contact Phil on 0274 422454 or <email@example.com> if you would like to help.
Returns of adult Salmon to the hatchery this year have mirrored the catch rate of salmon at the river mouth's, in other words very slow and low numbers. To date there are about 40 adult fish at the hatchery. We will need a big return in April to ensure we have enough eggs to fully complete our enhancement programme.
Work is underway to prepare the hatchery for the busy part of the year, namely stripping and egg fertilisation, and incubation of the fertilised eggs in the hatching shed
The trap in McKinnon's has been washed out 3 times and we have discussed a proposal to shift the site of the trap to above where the river water comes in to the creek during high river conditions.
Further releases from McKinnon's Creek Hatchery were carried out 23rd November. 5,000 to Ealing Springs stream (Rangitata) 5,000 to Butricks creek (Ashburton) 10,000 to Rangitata South spawning race.
The outside raceways have been water blasted, washed down with disinfectant and generally prepared for the transfer of fry from the hatching shed to outside.
Also the by-pass creek was cleaned out which necessitated closing down the shed water supply and pumping clean water through the shed from another source while the work of the digger continued.
In August we hosted a group of Fonterra New Zealand managers at the Hatchery including CEO Theo Spierings. They were most impressed at the hatchery and the results achieved and pledged their continuing support for the project.
Due to lower returns to the Hatchery last season, only 50,000 eggs were placed in remote incubators in 2016. 20,000 went to 3 Springs stream on the Opihi and 30,000 went to Rangitata South Spawning race.
The remaining eggs, approx. 110,000, were hatched in the Hatching shed at McKinnons Creek. These will be kept mainly for brood stock to be released back into the Rangitata in July 2017. Some will also be released at a later date to other South Canterbury rivers.
There have been excellent hatch rates from the remote incubators this year with the 3 Springs incubator achieving around 95% hatch rate, Rangitata South also achieved good results.