News

Lots of help for Port Moody's Mossom Creek Hatchery

Nate Bestward of Advanced Investigative Solutions is a fire investigator working for the The Co-operators insurance company at the Mossom Creek Hatchery. - SUBMITTED PHOTO
Nate Bestward of Advanced Investigative Solutions is a fire investigator working for the The Co-operators insurance company at the Mossom Creek Hatchery.
— image credit: SUBMITTED PHOTO

Throughout its 37-year history, the Mossom Creek Hatchery has given hundreds Tri-City students an education in fisheries and the environment.

Now, many of those students are giving back.

Since fire destroyed the facility last week, hatchery founder Ruth Foster said she has been inundated with offers of support.

The emails and phone calls have come from former students, volunteers, Tri-Cities residents and even contractors offering their help to rebuild the facility.

“I always knew we had incredibly strong support,” Foster said. “I am really touched by the people who have never even been to Mossom. I feel that the community is waking up to something that they lost that they almost didn’t realize they had.”

Foster and the volunteers at Mossom will need all the help they can get.

Last Wednesday’s blaze wiped out the main building, which was constructed in 1992, along with the education centre, which was added in 2001. A shed and the outhouse were the only structures that survived the blaze.

Incubation trays containing coho eggs and 110,000 chum were also destroyed in the fire — along with 37 years of records, photographs and press clippings — and Foster said Mossom will likely have to rely on surplus eggs from other hatcheries to rebuild its stocks.

“We can take fry and release them into Mossom so their last taste of fresh water will be Mossom,” she said. “We will get some of our stock that way.”

But there was some good news.

Tanks containing 4,400 coho were spared from the fire and have been running properly since the blaze. That will go a long way toward helping to maintain the fish levels at Mossom Creek, although Foster does expect a dip in numbers four years from now as a result of the fire.

Fish that spawn naturally in the creek will also help the process. After removing obstructions in the creek, more than 800 chum and 100 coho spawned at Mossom last season.

Mossom has also been getting a lot of support from the city of Port Moody.

Last night (Tuesday), council was scheduled to hold a special meeting after The Tri-City News’ print deadline to decide whether $10,000 in contingency funds should be given to the hatchery operators, the Burrard Inlet Marine Enhancement Society.

Mayor Mike Clay said last week the money could be used to help clear the site and allow the organization to carry on with its work through the winter. “We know it’s not enough money to rebuild the hatchery but it could bridge them for a little while,” he said. “We can make sure that the limited operations of the hatchery can continue through the winter.”

The city is also looking at the possibility of moving a trailer onto the property, which could work on a temporary basis until a new facility is built.

Clay said he is confident that the money will be available to rebuild the Mossom Creek Hatchery. He too, has received calls from numerous businesses and developers offering their support.

“It was happening literally within minutes,” he said. “These things can really pull a community together.”

• Elaine Willis, a Mossom Creek Hatchery volunteer, is asking anyone with photographs, press clippings and records from the hatchery to send them to elaineawillis@gmail.com.

gmckenna@tricitynews.com

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