Grade 1 students Olivia Miller

School chum release relocated due to gas spill

After raising chum salmon from eggs, students from about 50 school across Greater Victoria are releasing fry into Thetis Lake now and throughout May.

The original release location at Goldstream park changed due to the Columbia Fuels tanker truck crash and gasoline spill next to Goldstream River on April 16.

The schools releasing the salmon are part of a program run by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. After the fuel spill, DFO contacted the Capital Regional District asking permission for the fish to be released in the lake.

“We are happy this will help the students and the salmon,” said Lloyd Rushton, CRD Parks general manager. “Craigflower Creek already has salmon in it. The salmon have to be released now and cannot be kept in the classrooms any longer.”

Schools are releasing chum fry until the end of May. The CRD has deemed the main beach at Thetis Lake a “quiet zone” until May 31.

“We are asking people to co-operate,” Rushton said. “The quiet zone is to be respected during the times when the fry are being released. We are asking park users to keep their dogs away from the students and the beach (when the schools are there).”

Once the fish are released in the lake they will eventually swim their way to the northeastern side of the lake and navigate into Craigflower Creek and to the ocean.

Grade 1 and 2 students from Colwood elementary school arrived at the main beach at Thetis Lake Friday to release about 200 chum they have been caring for in the classroom since they were eggs in January.

“People have questions on how well they will swim and get into the river,” said Colwood elementary teacher Murray Goode. “The Department of Fisheries and Oceans determined this was the best place to release them.”

The best part of raising the salmon in the class room is “releasing them and watching them,” said six-year-old Josh Twidale.

“The oil spill was sad and especially being because all those fish were released (by the hatchery) before,” said Iris Twidale, parent volunteer for Colwood elementary. “I think it’s great the kids are still learning about nature in school.”


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