Cold temperatures cause freezing in tanks at Old Field Hatchery on Feb. 5. (Facebook photo)

Cold temperatures cause freezing in tanks at Old Field Hatchery on Feb. 5. (Facebook photo)

Cold snap causes ice at Oldfield Fish Hatchery

Prince Rupert volunteers cleared away ice to protect the smolt salmon

The recent cold weather in Prince Rupert has forced volunteers at Oldfield Creek Fish Hatchery to pull out their ice picks, and consider upgrades to some of their tanks.

The tanks that house the hatchery’s smolts are outside. Exposed to the elements, the tanks began to freeze after temperatures plunged below zero over the past few days in the city.

READ MORE: Arctic outflow chills North Coast inland

In order to protect the smolts and prevent the tanks’ plumbing from freezing, volunteers “chipped in” removing the ice buildup from around the tanks on Feb. 5.

“It’s something that usually happens around this time of year, but it’s something we’ve got to deal with,” said Mike McDowall, one of the volunteers with the hatchery.

There are between 6,000 – 7,000 smolt salmon currently at the hatchery, which will be released in May during the annual Smoltfest event.

McDowall said the hatchery is currently working to develop a plan to update the rearing area for the smolt so that it would be better protected from the weather.

He added that new tank technology also provides a better current that will help keep the tank clean and produce healthier, stronger fish.

The upgrade is estimate to cost between $300,000 – $400,000. McDowall said the hatchery would apply to community grants to help cover the costs if it decides to move ahead.

“We’re working on a plan so we won’t have to worry about this anymore,” he said.

READ MORE: Hatching a plan for Prince Rupert’s salmon

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Matthew Allen | Reporter
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