Elementary school students will grow salmon for release in the wild
A fish hatchery operated at the First Nations reserve in Scotchfort, P.E.I. has revived an educational program that helps restock salmon in Island rivers.
The Fish Friends program was shelved a few years ago, as the Cardigan Fish Hatchery was moving out of the business of restocking rivers.
That operation was picked up by the Abegweit First Nation in Scotchfort in October 2012, and this winter the hatchery has restored the educational program as well.
Last week, hatchery staff visited a grade six class at Morell Consolidated with a container of 100 tiny, pink, fish eggs. The container was poured into a classroom aquarium, and the students will take care of them until they are large enough to release.
"We're going to take them to Mooney's Pond in St. Theresa's and put them in the water," said student Naomi Byrne.
The hatchery is delivering eggs to six schools this winter: in Bloomfield, Southern Kings, Cardigan, Eliot River and Inglewood, as well as Morell.
"The educational component of Fish Friends is highly valuable," said hatchery manager Scott Taylor.
"To have the young grade four, five and sixers learn about conservation and learn about the biology of the Atlantic salmon."
Student Megan Young hopes the school's small contribution makes a difference.
"I think it will help the population a little bit. I mean, not by much 'cause it's only 100 salmon," she said.
In all, the Abegweit hatchery will supply more than 50,000 brook trout and Atlantic salmon for release into local rivers this year.
The Atlantic salmon raised in classrooms should be big enough to hit the open water before school ends this June.