Allco Fish Hatchery developed as an inmate work program in 1979. The Alouette River Correctional Centre (ARCC) Program Director, Jim Jose, saw the potential for a fisheries program that would offer high productivity and self gratification for the inmates, while at the same time increase the severely depleted fish stocks in the Alouette River caused by the construction of the Alouette Dam.
After convincing the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) of the opportunity that existed, ALLCO Hatchery was established. The final agreement was struck between the parties to use inmate labour and fisheries biologists for the rearing of salmonids, and the ALLCO Hatchery Inmate Work Project was born.
A 50,000-egg incubator and four rearing troughs were constructed at ARCC. DFO supplied the necessary liners for the rearing troughs, pumps and plumbing supplies.
The ALLCO Hatchery was in jeopardy of closing in 2002 due to the closure of the Alouette River Correctional
Centre with government cutbacks. Mr. Bob Riches became the new Director of the Fraser Regional Correctional Centre during this transition and saw the benefit of the hatchery. The community rallied successfully to save the hatchery. Currently, inmates are brought from Fraser Regional Correctional Centre seven days a week to oversee the fish production.
Today, ALLCO Hatchery raises four out of five Pacific salmon species; Chinook, Pink, Coho and Chum. The hatchery is also used to provide chum fry and eggs to other communities and Salmon Enhancement Program hatcheries in the Lower Mainland. Over the past forty years, the ALLCO Hatchery Inmate Work Program have reared more than 75 million fish for release in the Alouette and other watersheds.
HATCHERY LIFE CYCLE
During the fall and early winter, adult salmon are captured from our fish trap/fence located at the hatchery on the Alouette River. Eggs are then stripped from select ripe females, fertilized with milt obtained from the males, then placed in incubators inside the hatchery building. The eggs must not be disturbed for the first few weeks as they are very sensitive to temperature changes, light and mechanical shock. After 6 weeks of incubation, the eggs develop large black eyespots and have reached the eyed stage. Once at this stage, they are placed in circular incubators where they will hatch into alevin. Each alevin relies on a large yolk sac attached to its belly for nourishment. Once grown, the alevin become free swimming fry that leave the substrate and swim to be hand fed and reared for approximately 2-3 months. Each of these
circular incubators accommodates 250,000 fry. Once they have grown, the fry are then
transferred to larger and deeper earthen ponds for another 8-9 months. Following the hatchery rearing period, the juvenile fish of each species are returned by tank truck to the Alouette mainstem and tributaries. Local schools are involved in the releases.
ALLCO & ARMS
Due to the ALLCO Fisheries Program being operated by the BC Corrections Inmate Work Program, the ALLCO Fish Hatchery property is closed to the public. Visitors are invited to tour the Rivers Heritage Centre, located at the front entrance to the hatchery. All guests should check in with the Alouette River Management Society when they arrive.
The Alouette River Management Society along with many sponsors and partners, hosts Ridge Meadows Rivers Day. This annual event, is held on the fourth Sunday of every September celebrating BC’s incredible river heritage!