Grand opening set for Sockeye hatchery in Penticton

A very exciting story from our neighbouring watershed to the west, and  one major step of the larger salmon recovery program for the Columbia River Basin. Contributed from Okanagan Nation Alliance, September 17, 2014

Penticton British Columbia, Okanagan Nation Territory: The k] cp?’lk’ stim’ Salmon Hatchery, part of the Okanagan Nation Alliance (ONA) sockeye reintroduction program, will have its Grand Opening on September 20th at 1pm. The hatchery is located on the Penticton Indian Band reserve lands at 155 Enowkin Trail, Penticton, BC.

“The return of Okanagan Sockeye to our fishing grounds used to be only a dream”, says Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, “in the summer of 2010 we witnessed the salmon come back in the numbers not seen for 100 years. The work of supporting the sockeye is ongoing and continues with this new hatchery, another aspect of our collective assertion to have a rightful place in the ongoing stewardship of our lands and resources.” We have demonstrated our approach and success to restore salmon in the Okanagan.  The ONA and Colville Confederated Tribes (CCT) will continue our success for salmon restoration in the Upper Columbia above Chief Joseph Dam and Grand Coulee into Canada.

This hatchery is a testament to the perseverance of the Syilx people to realize their dream of restoring the n’titxw (Salmon), one of our Four Food Chiefs, to their original habitat and rightful place in our territory.  This hatchery represents a critical stage of our Nation’s restoration initiative. It is a historical moment for our people.  After many years, this new hatchery on the Okanagan River system is ready for the 2014 broodstock season.

The hatchery facility is part of a long-term program to restore the historical range of Sockeye in the upper Okanagan watershed, Okanagan Lake, and Skaha Lake systems, a region of the Columbia River Basin. This facility is funded primarily by the Grant and Chelan Public Utility Districts, Washington, USA.

The 25,000 square foot salmon hatchery will have the capacity to rear up to eight (8) million eggs, but is currently equipped to handle all fish culture aspects required for five (5) million eggs from brood stock management until fry release. Sockeye salmon eggs will be released annually as fry into the Okanagan system.  Sizing the facility for eight (8) million eggs allows for flexibility in the future or to allow for changes in the fish culture activities.

The Hatchery includes all buildings, equipment, and infrastructure required to collect, incubate, rear and release fish for the sole intent of outplanting sockeye fry for reintroduction and range extension to Skaha and Okanagan Lake. Fish culture also includes all laboratories and associated activities for fish condition and aging, plankton and mysid biometrics, and virology, necessary for the Sockeye Reintroduction Program. During the entire course the hatchery mimics the natural temperatures of the river and no anti-fungal treatments or chemicals are used.

The ONA and its subsidiary company, Okanagan Nation Aquatic Enterprises (OAE) Ltd., have worked in close collaboration with the Colville Confederation Tribes of WA, Grant and Chelan Public Utility Districts in Washington State, the Penticton Indian Band, and Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, Greyback Construction, among others, to bring this project to reality.

The ONA Chiefs Executive Council acknowledges everyone and everything that helped make this dream a reality; to the water in our streams and the air we breathe, to our Elders and Leaders of yesterday and today, our staff, our technical Teams and partners and through the years our Nation members who have kept the prayers and ceremonies alive, we say, Lim limpt!

TARA MONTGOMERY / Communications Okanagan Nation Alliance 

101 – 3535 Old Okanagan Hwy

WESTBANK, BC V4T 3J6

TF 1 866 662 9609

T   250 707 0095 ext 120

F    250 768 8476 www.syilx.org