Over 50 people gathered at the property of St. Anthony’s Catholic church on the shores of Buck creek in our small town of Houston, BC on the eve of May 18th. Why? To release the final batch of Coho fry from A Rocha’s pilot Coho hatchery. Amidst laughter, wooden fish painting, insect discovery, refreshments and, of course, lots of fish stories participants got a cupful of water and a Coho salmon fry and dumped it down the fish slide into a safe spot in the river.

IMG_1036-e1463674478346-300x300The past 7 months have been an amazing journey. There’s been a very steep learning curve in fish culturing techniques and in the end we were privileged to release over 4,400 healthy Coho fry into the Upper Bulkley River watershed.

I think the most satisfying part though, were the friendships that were made and the relational hurdles that were navigated.  It was not always easy. There were several hair raising, prayer raising moments where we had the opportunity to forgive and show grace and practice patience towards one another. But those moments were also the moments where true community was expressed, the good, the bad and sometimes, yes, the ugly.

I am grateful for the intense learning and growth that occurred in my life and I can only hope the others felt the same way. Steeped in much prayer and a few tears it produces not only a successful conservation initiative but also a successful act of community in true A Rocha fashion, were truth was told in a way that cared for both parties. And the support both financially and volunteer wise from the wider community of Houston that came together to make our watershed a better place was beautiful to behold and a privilege to be a part of.

So as I drift off to sleep dreaming of all our little Coho friends in the wild where they belong I say a quick prayer of gratitude and leave you with this visual journey of “How to hatch a fish”:

And for those of you who like numbers. Here’s the project statistically speaking:

20 adults, 3 seniors and 7 children raised

$14,000 cash and

$35,000 worth of in-kind contributions from

18 local business and individuals and

2 granting agencies (Pacific Salmon Foundation and Public Involvement Program with DFO) and put in

24 hours during incubation,

180 hours during rearing and

130 hours on other activities over a period of

7 months to raise

4,400 healthy Coho fry and host

52 adults and

33 children as visitors to our

10’ x 10’ pilot coho hatchery.