What to expect at the ARMS Fish Hatchery tour this Fall

A narrow gravel road from Allco Park takes you to a net door which is the entrance to the Allco Fish Hatchery which was developed in 1979 by the Alouette River Correctional Centre to offer high productivity and self-gratification for the inmates while increasing the severely depleting fisk population in the Alouette River.

Situated on traditional, ancestral and unceded territories of the Katzie First Nation and the Kwantlen First Nation, the Alouette River Management Society was hosting public hatchery tours before the COVID-19 pandemic halted their usual operations.

But as the world reopens, the Allco Fish Hatchery has resumed public tours starting Monday, allowing the curious to learn about hatchery operations and how fish are stored and then spawned in incubators.  

While it was disappointing to pause their tours, ARMS managing director Greta Cunningham said she’s hopeful people will return to the educational institute. As a vulnerable population works at the hatchery, they are taking precautionary measures and limiting the number of people who come during a tour.

“Mostly our tours are for the currently unvaccinated population, that is the kids” but she added that to accommodate other age groups, “there’s the flexibility of doing it after hours, limiting the number of people to 15 so that it’s manageable, and it’s all outdoors,” she said.

Due to COVID-19, the tour will include a visit to the fish incubators and down to the Alouette River fish fence where chum, chinook and other species are collected.

A fish fence is seen which has been set up the hatchery to hold back salmon from flowing down the river
This fish fence set up by the fish hatchery helps to catch salmon species for spawning/Ayesha Ghaffar

Alex Holmes works as a communications manager for the organization and shared that the fish fence helps them count salmon species, some of which are then taken into incubation. The fish fence is necessary because of the B.C. Hydro Dam has cut access for salmon to spawn in their natural habitat which was the Alouette River. The fish fence allows them to count the species and know what is going up the river.

Holmes pulled up a large metal panel from the floor which revealed a body of river water filled with Chum salmon.

“The chum and other species enter the trap so we can do an egg take and incubate them to help stop them from swimming down the river [as they were reported to have] decreased,” she said.

Cunningham shared that the first two tours are fully booked and depending on the interest shown by the public, they will continue to do tours till the end of November, before it starts to get dark around 4:30 p.m.  

The first hatchery tour was fully booked and the next one is on November 15 and RSVP only.  

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