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Friends of Bowker Creek to plant 30,000 salmon eggs in Oak Bay section

Society collaborating with Peninsula Streams Society, DFO on fishery project
One of the “salmon egg condos” that will be buried in the stream’s gravel. (Courtesy of the Friends of Bowker Creek Society)

Bowker Creek will flash a bit of colour next year when a local restoration group plants 30,000 salmon eggs.

The Friends of Bowker Creek Society has received approval from Fisheries and Oceans Canada to place thousands of chum salmon eggs in Bowker Creek in February 2022.

Society director Gerald Harris recently met with fisheries staff and representatives of partner organization Peninsula Streams Society, which has been assisting with the project for three years, to discuss the timing and location of egg planting.

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“This is really inspiring,” said Friends of Bowker Creek director and chair, Soren Henrich. “It’s great to bring these experts in.”

Peninsula Streams Society executive coordinator Ian Bruce said his team includes professional biologists and restoration specialists and is providing technical, consultative and administrative support for the project.

A close-up of chum salmon eggs, 30,000 of which will be planted as part of a restoration project in Bowker Creek. (Courtesy of the Friends of Bowker Creek Society)

Volunteers have begun preparing the creek’s bank and Bruce’s crew will help manually place a total of 30 tonnes of gravel and cobble at the site in early September to create 10 cubic metres of spawning benches. In November a team will work with the Goldstream Volunteer Salmonid Enhancement Association on selection and incubation of eggs.

In the meantime, fencing will be built along the banks of Bowker Creek during the winter to restrict people from disturbing the site. Incubators and several “salmon egg condos” will be created to assist with egg placement and maintenance.

Bruce said 30,000 eggs is the minimum amount required to ensure the project’s success and should guarantee about 40 to 60 adult salmon.

“Even if we only get 10, we’re happy,” he said. “If we get 20, we’re laughing. If we get 40, we’re high-fiving.”

Trapping may be done downstream afterwards to ensure surviving salmon migrate out, Bruce added. While the exact spawning site remains undisclosed, he did confirm the project is happening within the District of Oak Bay around lower Bowker Creek.

The Friends of Bowker Creek largely credit the success so far with the project to having a concise plan, thorough data collection and other lead-up work around the creek in the past year.

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The society was founded in 1997 with the goal of supporting the protection and enhancement of Bowker Creek and its watershed.

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Bev Gniazdowski (clockwise from front left), Adele Hartum, Storm Kirkland and Brandon Williamson sample invertebrates at Bowker Creek. (Photo by Jessica Hartum/Friends of Bowker Creek Society)