A lot more Chinook salmon will soon be raised at the McIntyre Creek Salmon Incubation Facility. The Whitehorse hatchery has seen $60,000 in upgrades as well as a new tank design which more closely mimics nature. Philippe Morin took a tour.More: www.cbc.ca/1.3633022
The McIntyre Creek Salmon Incubation Project (MCSIP) is a groundwater sourced, gravity-fed salmon incubation facility capable of rearing fish from egg-take through to tagged and release-ready stage. The facility has functioned for nearly 20 years, collecting salmon broodstock from the wild, fertilizating and incubating eggs, rearing and feeding juveniles, adipose fin clipping and inserting coded-wire tags (CWTs) in preparation for release into the wild. In previous years MCSIP has focused on enhancement and fostering of stewardship through the rearing and release of Yukon River Chinook salmon juveniles back into natal streams, as well as stock restoration of depopulated streams undergoing stock restoration. For example, Whitehorse Rapids Fishway eggs have primarily been used to re-stock Fox Creek as part of Ta’an Kwäch’än First Nation’s (TKFN) Fox Creek Salmon Stock Restoration Project. MCSIP provides facilities for the initial incubation of small numbers of other salmon eggs which are destined for classroom incubation projects as part of the Stream to Sea Program, and has served as a test site to refine the use of heath stack incubators and thermal marking units, which have been developed at the site.
MCSIP was initially founded as a stewardship and enhancement project, and continues to be a significant resource for Yukon River salmon. MCSIP focuses on two main target groups within the larger community; first nations interested in stock restoration of depopulated chinook salmon streams (e.g. TKFN), and students. Both elementary and Yukon College students use MCSIP as part of their educational experience. Renewable Resources Management 134: Introduction to Salmon Hatcheries and Related Fisheries Practices is a course developed with and for MCSIP. Yukon College students also provide paid labor and management of the day-to-day operation of the hatchery during the school year, providing even more practical training and responsibility. This hands-on experience has proven very valuable for student’s ongoing education and work careers.
First Fish Camp is hosted by Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in for youth and families. It is a way for people to learn about the heritage and traditions of the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in, as well as the importance of the river and modern day environmental pressures on this important part of the culture. It is an opportunity for the community to have fellowship with one another; families, youth and Elders.
Monitoring of Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) passage in the middle Yukon River began in 1999 at Rampart Rapids 730 miles upstream from the Yukon River mouth. Before this time, there were no U.S. run assessment projects for mainstem Yukon River Chinook salmon above Pilot Station, 122 miles from the mouth to the U.S./Canada Border. This unmonitored area covered over 1,000 miles. Numerous subsistence and commercial fishermen harvest salmon along this section of river. In 1999 daily subsistence fish wheel Chinook salmon catch–per-unit-effort (CPUE) was supplied to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) by satellite phone from the Rapids. Chum salmon (O. keta) monitoring began in 1996 with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) as part of a mark-recapture project. From 2000 to present, daily catch rates of Chinook and chum salmon, sheefish (Stenodus leucichthys), humpback whitefish (Coregonus pidschian), broad whitefish (C. nasus), and cisco species (C. laurettae and C. sardinella) were reported. Data on Chinook salmon and the numerous other fish species that are important subsistence resources caught at Rapids will help build a long-term population trend database that will increase in value as the project continues. The Restoration and Enhancement Fund directed by the Yukon River Panel has been the major source of funding for this project over the years.
The project site at the Rapids has probably been a subsistence fish wheel site since fish wheels came to the Yukon around 1900. The particular bend in the river where this site is located has always been well known for its ability to consistently produce good catches of fish, Chinook as well as chum salmon, whether the water was high or low. Because of the unique currents in the Rapids, fish wheels are capable of being run there even during the spring drift that happens at the same time as the Chinook salmon run. Traditionally, people would travel to the Rapids area to spend their summers because of these qualities. Even today it is one of the most densely populated active fish camp areas on the Yukon River.
Video source: YouTube (Stan Zuray)
Fish wheels are a common capture method for management and research activities in the Yukon River drainage. Specifically, fish wheels have provided CPUE data at various locations to fishery managers. Also, fish wheels are used to capture and hold fish for tagging studies. Most of these fish wheels use live boxes to hold fish until the researchers or contractors process and release them, and crowding and holding times greater than four hours is common. A growing body of data suggests delayed mortality and reduced traveling rates are associated with holding, crowding, and/or repeated re-capture (Bromaghin and Underwood 2003, 2004; Bromaghin et al. 2004; Underwood et al. 2004). The video capture techniques developed and used by this project have less of an impact when counting fish.