Campbell River Salmon Foundation pays whole shot for Pinks for the Pier

This will be the third straight year the Salmon Foundation has contributed to the costs of running the program

A local organization has come forward to foot the entire bill of a program aimed at increasing the survival rate of pink salmon in Campbell River.

The Campbell River Salmon Foundation will pay $6,451 (minus other donations that may come along) to fund the Pinks for the Pier program, set to launch March 25 and continue until April 30.

This will be the third straight year the Salmon Foundation has contributed to the costs of running the program.

“For the past several years the city and more recently, the Campbell River Salmon Foundation, has provided financial support for the Pinks for the Pier project,” said City Clerk Peter Wipper. “Prior to 2011 the Wei Wai Kum First Nation supported the project by providing one out of every $10 generated by Discovery Harbour boat launch.”

This year the Salmon Foundation will fill the void with a $1,014 payment in early March to pay employee salaries for pen set-up at rearing locations and a second, $5,437 payment on April 1 to pay employee salaries for fry feeding, pen cleaning, fry release and pen take-down and cleaning.

The Pinks for the Pier project involves rearing 700,000 pink salmon from the Quinsam River in ocean net pens which Wipper said “increase early marine survival and helps to ‘home’ adults back to the rearing area which provides targeted fishing opportunities for residents and visiting anglers.”

Mayor Walter Jakeway said the program ensures that “in August there’s plentiful pink salmon for people to catch off the pier.”

How it works is the Quinsam River pink salmon are taken from incubators at the hatchery and transported to an ocean rearing site near the downtown fishing pier. The fry enter the pens at approximately .2 grams of weight and are raised to .5 grams in two to three weeks. Then they begin their migration to the open ocean.

The fry imprint on the rearing site, in this case near the pier, and the adult pinks from the release return in the early summer in search of their home, which could lead to fishing opportunities those fishing off the pier. Fish returns from the project are expected in July and August 2014.