Sitting on the side of the highway, Duncan Bates, feared the worst for millions of fish at the Silverstream Hatchery.Canterbury had just been rocked by the massive earthquake. Duncan, the Akaroa Salmon general manager, had tended to his family and home and was driving to inspect the damage at the Kaiapoi hatchery. Knowing the hatchery was close to the epicentre of the 7.3magnitude earthquake, Duncan, pulled his car over to take a minute to prepare for what he expected to find.
“The hatchery is, as the crow flies, only about four miles from where all that serious damage occurred in Kaiapoi so I was really concerned,” he said.
“I was driving out there about 10am after sorting out things at home and I had to pull the car over.
“I had visions of millions of dead fry.”
Luckily, Duncan was able to breathe a huge sigh of relief when he found the hatchery had only suffered minor damage.
“There was a minor crack in the header tank and the septic tank but other than that everything is fine,” he said.
“We probably lost about 20,000, 5-10gram fry that were thrown out onto the concrete, but they should be pretty well covered by the surplus.
“We’re very lucky.
“If there had been significant losses at the hatchery, it would have affected the eight companies the hatchery provides for.”
Given that he hatchery supplies Akaroa Salmon, Mount Cook Alpine Salmon, Pacifica, High Country Salmon, Benmore Salmon, Sanford Limited, Anatoki Salmon and South Westland Salmon the quake could have been devastating for the sector.
“The only issue we had to deal with as a result of the quake was to treat and test daily all the water we use to process the salmon at our factory,” Duncan said.
“This really slowed down the salmon processing.
“The treatment continued until Thursday when the Christchurch City Council lifted the ban on the use of all Christchurch potable water without first boiling or chemical treatment.”
Akaroa’s workforce also escape the serious damage.
“All my staff are fine,” Duncan said.
“On a personal level they’re all pretty good.
“We’re all pretty lucky really, although I must admit that in the week after the event, things started to get a little bit stretched with the continuing aftershocks.”
While Silverstream dodged a bullet, the Montrose salmon hatchery had no such luck. The regeneration hatchery suffered serious structural damage and lost about 115,000 salmon fry, third of their brown trout fry and half their rainbow yearling stock.