On Saturday, Sept. 28 the Pacific Salmon Foundation (PSF) will hold its annual fundraiser, dinner and dance at the Filberg Centre in Courtenay. Doors will open at 5:30 p.m. for reception and viewing of silent auction items with dinner at 7 p.m. and live auction at 8:30 p.m. followed by music and dancing. Tickets are $60 each and may be available from chairperson Judy Ackinclose at 250-335-0010. My information is that ticket sales have been brisk so don’t delay in calling Judy if you are looking for tickets.
As I write this column I feel a sense of deep gratitude and admiration for the huge number of local people who annually volunteer for the hard work in rebuilding our precious salmon stocks one stream at a time. Over the past 25 years the PSF has supported community programs to the sum of $37.5 million involving 2,073 projects throughout the province. Locally in Area 14 waters they have been involved with at least 150 projects. When you think about it, this is a staggering number of local salmon enhancement projects.
I was at a meeting on Saturday morning when Cal Kelly gave an update on the returns of pink salmon to the Tsolum River this fall. Five members of the Tsolum River Enhancement Society did a walk on an upper section of the river and they counted approximately 35,000 pink salmon. Now you may not be impressed with these figures until you realize that about 15 years ago the federal government declared the river dead due to acid mine pollution from the mine site on Mount Washington.
Over the past 20 years millions of dollars were spent to neutralize the acid mine drainage and the dedicated members of the Tsolum River Enhancement Society donated thousands of hours of work to bring this wonderful river back from the dead. Throughout the long process PSF has been involved.
Most saltwater anglers in the Comox Valley have enjoyed one of the best seasons in memory. For the first time in at least 15 years the Puntledge River was opened to a retention fishery on returning pink salmon. Coho and chinook salmon fishing has been good all season. One of the most frustrating aspects of the large number of coho in local waters is that most of them are unmarked so they have to be released. It is nice to know you can keep one marked and one unmarked coho in Sub-area 14-11. The PSF has to be factor in the abundance of these fish because virtually every local enhancement group releases thousands of coho smolts each season.
From the PSF Keystone Species Annual Magazine I found the following list of 2012 local projects that PSF helped fund:
Bowser -Fish habitat improvements on Thames Creek
Bowser – Community hatchery equipment replacement
Comox – Restoration of lower Brooklyn Creek fish and plant habitat
Comox – Community hatchery upgrades
Courtenay – “Keeping It Living” Awareness Campaign Grand Finale
Courtenay – Steelhead/Rainbow trout stock assessment
Courtenay – Godin road trapped Fry Survey
Courtenay – Tsolum River habitat assessment
Fanny Bay – Rosewall Community Hatchery fish collection gear
Fanny Bay – Rosewall Community Hatchery Infrastructure Improvements
There are a number of local projects that have been funded in 2013 that I do not have on the list; but they include work on Nile Creek and the Oyster River Enhancement Society to name a couple. The PSF, by supplying funds for equipment and materials to volunteer groups providing labor and skills, are able to increase the value of projects 10-fold. Funds have been hard to come by, but just this past year they received a big boost in funding from the federal government in the 100 per cent returns of all Pacific Salmon Stamps sale to the PSF. This will give the PSF a greater ability to fund all reasonable projects instead of having to pick and chose as in the past. There is much work to be done.
When you attend a PSF fundraising event you can be assured something like 90 cents on every dollar raised goes to meaningful grants and projects that meet the PSF goals and objectives
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I just received an e-mail to the effect that the recreational halibut season has been extended to Dec. 31, 2013 to allow us time to reach our allocation. Halibut for Christmas is a great idea.
Ralph Shaw is a master fly fisherman who was awarded the Order of Canada in 1984 for his conservation efforts. In 20 years of writing a column in the Comox Valley Record it has won several awards.