Fry Salvage

Extremely dry conditions and associated low flows in the Alberni Valley – and elsewhere on Vancouver Island – have created critical conditions for many juvenile coho and trout, as well as returning sockeye and coho adults. These low flows are contributing to high temperatures, low oxygen levels and isolated pools of water that can stress or even kill fish.

Here’s what you can do to help:

  • Minimize “summer fun” activities where fish are.  That deep pool might be the only refuge for fish, and excessive activity contributes to stress.
  • Sometimes a little shovel work can reconnect the pool to the main stream.  If you can easily dig a small connecting trench with your foot – then go for it.•     Handling is stressful to fish, particularly when they are already stressed due to poor environmental conditions.
  • •     Given that lack of water has partially dried up the system, moving fish may overcrowd another area. With limited food and habitat, poor water quality (high temps/low oxygen) no more fish can be produced in a place that has too many fish already.  Best for survival of the fittest…let Mother Nature sort it out.
  • Unfortunately, fry salvage is often not the best option, or even promoted (and for good reasons).
  • In certain circumstances, fry salvage may be an option. In our area West Coast Aquatic and the AVEA have scientific licenses to salvage fry.  Get in touch with these groups for additional information on whether salvage might be right for your situation, how to help, and for guidelines on handling fish.  You can also contact our DFO Community advisor Erica Blake for advice.  If fry salvage is supported, salvagers should have a copy of a scientific license (permit) to salvage.  It’s also important to have documentation on fish movement – Date/Stream/species/# fish moved/location moved to/reason for move….pictures are great.
  • If fry salvage is supported in your situation, it is generally recommended that you relocate them into a larger body of water – lakes are best (Sproat Lake, Great Central Lake), or from tributaries into a larger river (Ash, Stamp, Somass Rivers).  Relocating fry in small streams/tributaries can often compromise fish already located there.  Leave adults alone.  Don’t move fish to another system or watershed.

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