Alouette Sockeye Enhancement Hatchery AKA: Experimental Release of Hatchery Reared Sea-Run Kokanee into Alouette Reservoir to Evaluate the Feasibility of Re-establishing a Sockeye Salmon Run – 2015 (16.ALU.02)
The purpose of this project is to determine whether extirpated sockeye salmon runs can be re-established from non-anadromous kokanee populations that have been able to persist within a dammed watershed. Sockeye salmon were extirpated from the Alouette River by dam and tunnel construction in the 1920’s.
Since 2005, an experimental spill from the Alouette Dam has resulted in “sea run kokanee” smolts and returning adults. These adults are seen as a conservation priority in the Salmonid Action Plan section of the Watershed Plan for the Alouette Watershed.
Since 2008, the Alouette River Management Society (ARMS) has captured sea-run kokanee below the Alouette Dam at the Allco fish fence, sampled their DNA and transferred them to the Alouette Reservoir by truck and trailer. Parental analysis, by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Pacific Biological Station in Nanaimo, was used to identify the off-spring of these sea-run kokanee in samples of smolts and lake-resident juveniles, in order to evaluate the overall reproductive success of the transferred adults.
Preliminary results suggest that few if any of these adults have produced off-spring. The reasons for their failure to reproduce remain unknown. Possible explanations include pre-spawning mortality resulting from the stress of trucking, being tagged, handled and released, or disease or parasites picked up during marine migration, or perhaps because they are not finding one another or not finding the conditions suitable for spawning.
ARMS proposed to retain ten of the adult females that we hoped to return in 2015 for hatchery brood stock, and to release their marked (adipose-clip) progeny into the Alouette Reservoir in late spring 2016. Relative survival was to be determined by comparing the prevalence of adipose-clipped progeny in samples of smolts and lake-resident juveniles in 2017 (and hopefully subsequent years).
The overall objective is to increase the number of out-going sockeye juveniles that will return to the Alouette River system as spawning adults and thus will overwhelm our current truck and trap method to such an extent that fish passage over the Alouette Dam is evident. The Alouette River Sockeye Reanadromization Project committee is a partnership of ARMS, Katzie First Nation, Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Ministry of Environment, the City of Maple Ridge, BC Hydro and LGL Consulting. This group has been working for almost ten years to bring realize their vision of a connected lower and upper Alouette Watershed and for the sockeye salmon to be able to return to their original spawning grounds to complete their lifecycle.
The 2015 season was approved for $40,000 and 2014 season was approved for $32, 426.85. This was made possible through BC Hydro’s Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program (FWCP).