Student welders make fish pen for Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Association

Provided photo: Pictured from left include James Poler (Lyndonville), Ian Ferrell (Lockport), Aaron McCollum (Royalton-Hartland), Ron Jackson, Colby Criswell (Lockport), Gavin Ciarfella (Medina) and Thomas Waters (Royalton-Hartland).

Posted 16 May 2024 at 7:50 am

Press Release, Orleans/Niagara BOCES

MEDINA – Students in Ron Jackson’s and Shannon Rutty’s Welding Program at the Orleans Career and Technical Education Center recently worked on an interesting project with the Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon Association.

The juniors and seniors both worked on constructing a fish pen for the Eighteen Mile Creek Pen Rearing Project.  The association’s pen-rearing program started in 2004 with the help of the Niagara River Anglers Association and New York Department of Environmental Conservation.

The original plan was to allow fish to acclimate to Eighteen Mile Creek in Olcott and “imprint” to the tributary so that at the end of their life cycle they would return and spawn.  DEC studies have shown that pen reared fish have a 2-to-1 better survival rate over direct stocked fish. Thus, resulting in increased return to Eighteen Mile Creek and surrounding tributaries creating a year-round Chinook “King” Salmon fishery for both lake and tributary anglers, bolstering the economy of Niagara County and its lakeside villages.

Through the years, the project has grown from two pens and 20,000 fish to nine pens and 153,000 Chinook Salmon and steelhead trout. The original pens have been degrading over time and they needed to be replaced.

The Welding classes’ all-aluminum pen will replace one of the degraded galvanized steel pens allowing this program to continue for many years to come.

“The students in the Welding program did an exceptional professional job assembling and welding the pen,” says Alan Sauerland, the Vice President of LOTSA.  “The craftsmanship and attention to detail that Mr. Jackson and Mr. Rutty have taught their students can be seen in every aspect of this pen. “The Orleans/Niagara BOCES has a top-notch Welding Department and should be proud of the students that they are preparing for the trade.”

Mr. Jackson said that he and Mr. Rutty appreciate LOTSA giving their students this opportunity.

“It was a great way for the students to show what they are capable of,” Jackson said. “We are very appreciative when the public bring projects in for the students to design, fabricate and reverse engineer or repair. The experience is unreplaceable.”