Two Island elementary schools raising fish in micro-hatcheries again this year

Keepers of the fish! Charles C. McLean students, with the help of Richard Panton, are again this year raising Chinook Salmon in the school through the micro-hatchery program. In photo, left, are Wyatt Williamson-Wright, Kyle McVey, Ethan Witty, Blaec Quinlan, Greyson Orford, Kowan Orford, Corbin Best, Jackson Chevrette, Rylan Lock, and Richard Panton. Photo by Christa Flood

GORE BAY – Another good crop of fish is being raised at two Manitoulin elementary schools that are operating micro-hatcheries, with the fish to be released in Island waters again this spring.

“The fish are doing well; they are large and they have hatched out,” stated Richard Panton, custodian at Charles C. McLean Public School, who is helping the students raise the fish again this year. He said the process hasn’t gone as smoothly as it did last year, due to a couple of power outages, in which a few of the fish were lost. 

However, “we still have a very good number of big healthy fish, and they will be fine from here on,” said Mr. Panton. “They will be released into Bickell’s Creek this spring. They have already gone through the tough part of this whole process. The fish have just been put onto stronger food so they will grow more rapidly from now to the spring.”

“The students have done a very good job of raising the fish, they monitor the water and the water temperature in the micro-hatchery and in  helping me change the water in the tank,” continued Mr. Panton.

At Central Manitoulin Public School in Mindemoya (CMPS), principal Dave Wiwchar told the Recorder earlier this week, “it’s going great.” The close to 100 fish, “are bigger and thicker than they have ever been before.”

“This is the third year of this project and in September we might see the salmon that have been raised previously coming up the creek in M’Chigeeng,” said Mr. Wiwchar, who noted that teacher Andre LeBlanc and his Grade 6 students are the caretakers of the fish.

The Gore Bay Fish and Game Club (GBFGC) has again partnered with the two schools to raise Chinook Salmon eggs. Club members and some Kagawong residents assisted in collecting the eggs and sperm from six male and four female fish from the Kagawong River last fall, to be used in the egg collection and their fertilization.

The male and female fish were spawned and the fertilized eggs were placed in incubation boxes for the school micro-hatcheries to hatch out and rear to fingerling size for release next spring.

“We received the eggs at the end of October,” said Mr. Panton. “The eggs were really huge this year, and the fish we are raising are going to be big as well.”

The fish are all Chinook Salmon, “and we now have a big class of fish that we have been raising and released over the past few years,” added Mr. Panton.