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‘Healthy’ pink salmon return in Courtenay-area Tsolum River pleases enhancement group

A healthy return of 60,000 pink salmon this year is rewarding years of hard work by the Tsolum River Restoration Society (TRRS).

A healthy return of 60,000 pink salmon this year is rewarding years of hard work by the Tsolum River Restoration Society (TRRS). Community outreach, restoration projects, research, water quality improvements and stakeholder partnerships have all helped improve the conditions in the river and the fish are responding.

The Society still needs to re-establish river bed stability and continue wetland and rearing habitat restorations but this year's run has been so good that the group has decided to let nature take its course this fall.

The TRRS has decided that the odd-year return (pink salmon return every two years in distinct odd- and even-year stocks) will not need enhancing. In other words, the TRRS has taken the first step toward a natural return by not running a hatchery program this year for the first time since 1998.

"The TRRS has always wanted to restore habitat and let fish repopulate themselves. We have enhanced pinks only due to the incredible amount of nutrients they bring back from the ocean once they have spawned. After so many years of poor fish runs in the Tsolum River these nutrients were badly needed," says Jack Minard, Executive Director at TRRS. "After 14 years of this work and significantly reducing copper pollution in 2009, the TRRS is beginning to realize our goal of getting out of the hatchery business altogether and letting wild fish repopulate themselves."

"This is the best run since 1958!" said Wayne White, President of the TRRS, "This is the kind of run we would like to see every year."