Located in Port Hardy, British Columbia along the northern coast of Vancouver Island, the Quatse Salmon Stewardship Centre is an educational facility dedicated to the enhancement and conservation of salmon species. The Quatse River Hatchery was opened in 1983 by the Canadian Minister of Fisheries and Oceans.
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From 1983 until 2008, the Hatchery consisted of a single riverside trailer. In 2009, the Northern Vancouver Island Salmonid Enhancement Association, the nonprofit organization that operates the Hatchery, made the decision to expand and renovate the facility. The new facility significantly increased the Hatchery’s outreach, education, and tourism efforts. The Quatse Salmon Stewardship Centre was opened to the public in September of 2010 as part of the Hatchery expansion.
Permanent Exhibits and Attractions
Today, the Quatse Salmon Stewardship Centre is operated as part of the Quatse River Hatchery facility, providing a variety of exhibits and public educational programming related to the enhancement and conservation of local salmon species. The Stewardship Centre’s gallery features a large freshwater aquarium for schools of steelhead trout and juvenile salmon to swim openly. Guests are able to feed and observe the salmon within tanks during operating hours. An ocean habitat display in the gallery is also home to local marine life species, including fish and invertebrates.In addition to live animals, several educational displays focus on salmon stewardship, conservation practices, and current initiatives undertaken by the Northern Vancouver Island Salmonid Enhancement Association to preserve salmon populations. A documentary film titled Once Upon a Tidealso screens throughout the day for visitors in the Centre’s Salmon Cinema.
Interactive displays within the Centre include a large-scale wheel of salmon that can be spun and several giant Jenga®-style salmon stacking games that illustrate the challenges salmon face in their life cycle and highlight their place within the larger ecosystem of British Columbia. Locally-made costumes representing each stage of the salmon life cycle are available for children and families to dress up in for a hands-on learning experience.
Guided tours of the Hatchery facility are available through the Stewardship Centre. The Hatchery produces steelhead trout, chum salmon, pink salmon, and coho salmon and has the capacity to house a million salmon eggs at a time. The facility has been rated one of the most efficient hatcheries on the British Columbian coast, with staff providing support and labor to other volunteer hatcheries and fisheries throughout the region. The facility is located on the Quatse River Regional Park Campgrounds near a large picnic area. RV hookups and tent rentals are available, with all proceeds benefitting salmon conservation efforts. Bears, eagles and other wildlife populate the area and can been seen along the area’s nature trails. There are dedicated fishing areas along the nearby waterfront, with complimentary freezers available to store fishing trip catches.
The Quatse Salmon Stewardship Centre is a short walk from downtown Port Hardy and its ferry dock. Port Hardy has a population of around 4,000 people and is a destination for outdoor tourism. A variety of hiking, camping, diving, boating, skiing, surfing, small aircraft, and wildlife activities are offered in the region. In addition to salmon, eagles, bears, and whales can be observed from Port Hardy, and whale watching tours are offered by a variety of local businesses. The historic town is also a major site for First Nations cultural heritage. Totems and historic buildings, some as many as 8,000 years old, can be seen throughout the town. A variety of shopping, dining and entertainment experiences are available in the town’s downtown business district.
Education and Stewardship
The Salmon Stewardship Centre believes that education is a key facet of conservation and stewardship.
The Centre holds a variety of talks, workshops, and educational events throughout the year. Student programming is also available, including Hatchery tour field trips and a Salmonid In The Classroom program, which allows students to care for salmon eggs and watch them grow into fish before releasing them back into the waters in the spring.
The Northern Vancouver Island Salmonid Enhancement Association maintains the Stewardship Centre and Hatchery and oversees its conservation programming. For almost four decades, this work has been carried out through a variety of initiatives in areas such as environmental monitoring, habitat enhancement, fish production, and community education. The Centre, as part of this multifaceted stewardship effort, releases over one million juvenile salmon in the fry and smolt stages of development into the Quatse River system each year.
The Northern Vancouver Island Salmonid Enhancement Association runs two additional hatcheries, the O’Connor Lake Net Pens and the Marble River Hatchery. The Net Pens are a system of 12 individual pens surrounded in mesh to protect juvenile salmon from predators. Nets are active from September to May, when the fish are released into the wider waters. The facility produces over 300,000 juvenile salmon per season. The Marble River Hatchery is operated as a partnership with the Friends of the Marble River Society and is the largest volunteer society dedicated to salmon conversation in the Northern Vancouver Island region, offering sites for hatching and juvenile rearing. Together with the Quatse Salmon Hatchery and Stewardship Centre, the facilities work to ensure salmon enhancement and stewardship throughout British Columbia.
8400 Byng Rd, Port Hardy, BC V0N 2P0, Canada, Phone: 250-902-0336