Sockeye salmon usually return to the fence by early to mid-July however, this year ARMS saw a delayed return. (Alexandra Holmes/Special to The News)

Sockeye salmon usually return to the fence by early to mid-July however, this year ARMS saw a delayed return. (Alexandra Holmes/Special to The News)

Sockeye salmon return to fish fence in Maple Ridge for the season

ARMS hoping to beat their 2020 return of 85 adult Sockeye

After a long wait, Sockeye Salmon have finally arrived at the fish fence on Alouette.

Sunday, Aug. 8 marked the first Sockeye salmon arrival at the fish fence at the Allco Fish Hatchery for 2021, said Alouette River Management Society’s (ARMS) executive director, Greta Borick-Cunningham.

The Allco Fish Hatchery is located approximately 6 to 7 kilometres south of the Alouette dam in Maple Ridge, and has operated since 1979 under the direction of B.C. Corrections with authorization and guidance from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

“With the cooler temperatures and rain that fell, we saw the return of this iconic species. ARMS is very excited to see the first adult Sockeye salmon as we have been anxiously awaiting their return,” she said.

With the hotter than usual temperatures and low-to no precipitation for over 50 days, this is a late return for these salmonid species, as they typically return to the Allco fish fence starting early to middle of July.

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Each returning adult Sockeye is collected in the Allco trap via the fish fence, after which ARMS along with the B.C. Corrections hatchery staff collect, measure, sample and photograph each adult, explained Borick-Cunningham. Once this is done swiftly, each fish is put into a specialized oxygenated tank-trailer and is transported to, and released into the Alouette Lake.

The salmon need to be transported via trap and truck for them to be able to bypass the Alouette dam and reach their historical spawning grounds. In the past, studies have shown that the adult Alouette Sockeye mature, and are ready to spawn in early November.

“As the summer progresses, ARMS is looking forward to a high return of Sockeye this year, and of the return of the Chum and Pink salmon this fall. We hope to beat our 2020 return of 85 adult Sockeye!” Borick-Cunningham added, extending her gratitude to the the Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program (FWCP) for funding the “Alouette Watershed Sockeye-Fish Passage Feasibility-Year 5” project.

The FWCP is a partnership between BC Hydro, the Province of B.C., Fisheries and Oceans Canada, First Nations, and public stakeholders to conserve and enhance fish and wildlife in watersheds impacted by BC Hydro dams.

For more information about ARMS and our work on restoring Sockeye and other salmon species in the Alouette Watershed, please go to: https://alouetteriver.org/fish-passage

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