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Pacific Salmon Foundation hosts 10th annual gala evening

The Pacific Salmon Foundation is hosting its 10th annual gala dinner in Nanaimo later this month and thanks to the proceeds of those evenings, which have become a must-attend event in the Harbour City, salmon-related projects are gaining momentum.

Completed projects, like Bowen Park's salmon side channel and salmon re-introduction to Beck Creek, Cat Creek and Chase River, have been successful. Current projects, such as re-establishing a salmon run in Departure Creek,  benefitted from proceeds generated by the evening — the event raises about $40,000 — and future projects will continue to improve salmon runs, habitat and knowledge about them.

Proceeds from this year's dinner will help establish an educational science centre in Bowen Park, introduce pinks to the channel between Neck Point and Pipers Lagoon Park, and enhance various water storage projects to ensure local streams and rivers have adequate flow during the dry months.

In 2011, Nanaimo area salmon projects from Duncan to Fanny Bay received $22,000 in funding raised partly from the foundation's annual dinner.

"It's a great way for all of the people and groups involved in these projects to celebrate their accomplishments and continue the momentum by supporting this fundraising event," said Mel Sheng, dinner organizer and quarterback for many salmon enhancement projects in the area.

Sheng also noted that the inaugural pink salmon fishing derby, held in September and supported with $10,000 worth of prizes from Alberni Outpost, was also a success.

"All of the money they made went back to the Nanaimo Fish Hatchery's pink program, and we hope to do it again next year," said Sheng.

Partners involved in many of the projects being completed around Nanaimo include the Island Flyfishers; British Columbia Conservation Foundation; Island Corridor Foundation; Nanaimo and Area Land Trust; Department of Fisheries and Oceans; the City of Nanaimo; and Vancouver Island University.

Jean-Michel Hanssens of the Harbour City River Stewards says the funding provided through the PSF is important to keep projects flowing.

"Funding is critical, particularly for these projects in small community creeks that are very important. We've done quite a bit in this region lately ... and it's very rewarding when you go down to the creek and there is a coho that wouldn't have been there before looking at you."

Hanssens added that along with the official partners, volunteers play a crucial role in local projects.

This year's gala is Nov. 24, beginning at 5 p.m. at Beban Park. Tickets are $60 each and can be purchased at Gone Fishin' and Wholesale Sports Outdoor Outfitters.

Gala highlights include live and silent auctions featuring angling adventures, original artwork, raffles and a seafood appetizer bar.

For more details visit the Pacific Salmon Foundation's website at www.psf.ca.

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