Niagara Gazette — A fight could be brewing if some Lake Ontario stakeholders have their way involving the use of the Caledonia fish hatchery for rearing king salmon... again.
The Lake Ontario Sportfishing Stakeholders Coalition reunited to discuss some important business earlier this week when a dozen concerned members located in the Western Basin of the lake began initiating a serious conversation on using the Western New York hatchery south of Rochester.
“We keep receiving excuse after excuse when we ask for the Caledonia fish hatchery to come on line again for salmon,” said Capt. Bob Songin of Rochester, who operates a successful charter business each year out of Wilson and Oak Orchard. “Right now, all our eggs are literally in one basket.”
Songin was referring to the fact that all of the eggs for Lake Ontario Pacific salmon are reared at the Salmon River Fish Hatchery in Altmar, located on the Salmon River in the Eastern Basin of the lake. Pre-VHS disease, Caledonia was used to rear Pacific salmon. When that happened, the quality of the fish was excellent and most of the planting sites received better runs of fish when they matured. Just as important is the fact that staging fish off the creek and river mouths were more sustained and created a bigger impact. They lasted longer.
“We want to be able to reduce the risk of a hatchery disaster,” said Songin. “VHS disease is commonly referred to by the Department of Environmental Conservation as a roadblock for transferring eggs or fish. I’ve been able to prove that a fish from Lake Erie – a body of water that is already VHS positive – could make it to Caledonia via the Erie Canal, Genesee River, Oatka Creek and Spring Creek, where the hatchery is located. In addition, the DEC is already moving fish from hatchery to hatchery every year, such as moving trout from Randolph to Caledonia and eggs from Randolph to Rome.”