It is freedom day for some Squamish salmon fry | Squamish Chief

It is freedom day for some Squamish salmon fry

Hundreds of thousands of chum fry released into channel — with the help of local school kids

Friday was a big day for 200,000 chum salmon fry — and some humans, too.

The fry were transported from their home base at the Tenderfoot Creek Hatchery to the nearby Evans/Lewis channel and then released.

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The Squamish Watershed Society, Department of Fisheries Resource Restoration Unit, and Squamish Nation built the channel.

At the hatchery, fry are moved into a tank for the short ride to where they will be released.

From start to finish, it was about a four-year project to get to the point of releasing the fry into the channel, according to those involved.

There to witness and celebrate the event, in addition to the hatchery personnel and Fisheries and Oceans representatives, were Squamish Nation elders and leaders, as well as children from the Aya7ayulh Chet (Cultural Journeys) program.

The children were able to release containers of the fry into the water.

The project is a result of collaboration between the Squamish Nation, Department of Fisheries and Oceans, the Pacific Salmon Foundation and the Squamish River Watershed Society.

"The reason we do projects like this is because we did a lot of bad things in the past, to the river," Dave Nansen, of Fisheries and Oceans Canada told the gathered crowd. "There would have been fish here — salmon here — for thousands of years and then we came along and built railways and highways and dikes and separated the river from its floodplain and so those fish didn't have a place to live anymore. So, the reason we do these projects now is to try to right those wrongs to the best of our ability."

The fry imprint on the stream by smells and other environmental characteristics. They then return to that stream when they are ready to spawn after three or four years in the ocean.

About one to two percent of the original 200,000 will ultimately survive, according to Jordan Uittenbogaard, acting watershed enhancement manager with the hatchery.

For more on the work of the hatchery go here.

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