Submitted by Paul Rickard, Coordinator of the Pink Project for the Cowichan Bay Improvement Society (2008-2009)
Early in 2007, the Cowichan Bay Improvement Association decided to develop a Pink Salmon Net Pen Project to bring some fishing back to Cowichan Bay. Graeme Bull, a Marine Harvest employee who lives and works in Port Hardy, is also a member of the sport fishing community. He had heard about our project and our need for some equipment and gave us a call. Graeme got a welder up in Port Hardy to work on a surplus Marine Harvest 20 foot by 20 foot cage. Graeme also located a net at a local hatchery. We paid the welding costs, the cost of the net and had both items transported down to Cowichan. Without Graeme’s help, I don’t think we would have been able to start up so well. In Cowichan Bay, we soon met Garth and Doris Riggins who have their live aboard moored almost beside the net pen site at the Bluenose Marina. Garth and Doris operate Marine Harvest’s Freshwater Farms hatchery. We knew almost nothing about feeding, checking on fish health, and measuring dissolved oxygen. With their help and supervision, we soon became “experts” (well almost). Because we need help to feed these young fish, the community pitched in, keeping a logbook of feeding up to date. At the end of the day, Doris and Garth would check the book, and always do the last evening feeding for us, every day! This year Garth gave me updates on the growth of the fish, and kept checking the dissolved oxygen levels at the end of the five week project when we were concerned about net fouling. This is truly a community project, with parents and children coming down to watch and feed the fry, along with the fairly large live aboard community in Cowichan Bay, who really adopted our fish. Garth, Doris and Graeme have made a particularly valuable addition to our project, and are clearly part of our Cowichan Community.
More photos available at http://www.marineharvestcanada.com/sustainability_protecting_wild_fish.php