About the project
The Tankeeah River System is located in Spiller Channel, very close to the community of Bella Bella. This watershed has two main lakes and ten tributaries, and has historically provided sustainable sockeye stocks to the Heiltsuk people. However, due to unsustainable fishing practices, salmon stocks reached historic lows from the mid 1980’s to 1990’s. Over the last decade, the Salmon Enhancement Project has returned all four salmon runs to near historic levels, improving Heiltsuk access to food fish.
How does the project work?
Beginning in May, HIRMD Fisheries Technicians and Guardian Watchmen begin to monitor the Tankeeah river system to monitor the size and health of the spawning salmon populations, which include pink, chum, coho and sockeye. In late September, the Fisheries Technicians capture thousands of eggs and milt from spawning adult sockeye and carefully transport them to the Emily Lake Hatchery where the eggs are fertilized in buckets. The fertilized eggs are then placed on incubation trays and kept at ideal temperatures. Over the next few weeks, the fertilized eggs are “shocked” to help them hatch into healthy juveniles. Once the eggs have hatched, and the young salmon have absorbed their egg sacs, the juveniles are carefully moved to rearing ponds and fed for varying lengths of time from October to early March. In early March, the healthy sockeye juveniles are released back into Tankeeah Lakes to replenish the salmon population. More photos and information on the Heiltsuk Guardian Watchmen page.