Niagara Gazette


November 3, 2013

HILTS: Lake Ontario stakeholders push Caledonia for salmon


Niagara Gazette — At the Salmon River Fish Hatchery, serious water issues continue to exist. According to Songin’s collected information, the DEC has not received its target level for king salmon three of the last five years. Low water levels, poor egg take and poor eye-up of the eggs are all cited as reasons for the reduced numbers. Those water issues have not yet been resolved, even though over $2 million in expenditures have been earmarked for helping to correct the problem – thanks to an influx of cash from the Occidental Chemical Natural Resources Damages claim that was approved back in 2006.

It’s important to note that even though the cash was in the bank for the Occidental settlement (over $12 million that was only to be spent on Lake Ontario Sportfishing projects and programs) by 2011, only $300,000 has been spent on the Salmon River facility to try and correct those water problems. The only significant accomplishment to date is one well that produces 200 gallons per minute. The finger keeps being pointed to a higher authority when it comes to actually expending the money – the state simply won’t let them. Again, the money is in the bank.

Songin could also see additional benefits by using Caledonia for some of the salmon rearing. The fact that the Salmon River has been hampered with water issues with limited space could very well allow less salmon in the raceways and help to improve the quality of the product coming out of the hatchery for pen rearing projects and for direct stocking into Lake Ontario. It would put less stress on the fish when transporting them for stocking purposes by cutting down the duration of the stocking drive. It should also help with timing of stocks for fish plants – an issue the last couple of years for pen rearing efforts. Last year, salmon were received so late that they had a very limited amount of time in the pens. This defeats the purpose of the program – both fish survival rates and imprinting to local waters.

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