For many years, the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters has recognized the dedication of conservationists throughout the province through the Gord Blake Memorial Conservation Award.
The 2020 recipient is Jake van Rooyen, a past president and current life member and Board of Director with the Bluewater Anglers Hatchery in Point Edward, Ontario. He currently serves as the hatchery manager and was nominated for this award by the OFAH Zone J Executive.
van Rooyen’s dedication to the hatchery made him a natural fit for this award. For about 15 years his efforts and commitment have helped lead the way in the successful nature of the hatchery, and while some of his responsibilities are just now being moved around to other members of the hatchery, his meticulous nature and documentation of the tasks necessary to run a successful hatchery have helped immensely in the transition of some of the responsibilities that come with raising hundreds of thousands of trout and salmon. According to the hatchery website, they’ve raised and released about 150,000 Chinook Salmon each year for the last 35 years and another 50,000 Rainbow Trout in each of the last five years.
The hatchery also maintains a public viewing area and feeding area where they bring about 3,000 people a year through to see first-hand the experience related to how a hatchery operates.
In a 2018 article in the Sarnia Observer newspaper, van Rooyen noted that the success of the club’s endeavors was connected to the support of those within the community with in addition to the efforts of the hatchery members. van Rooyen, who spearheaded the establishment of a school hatchery program in the Sarnia, has also been a past guest on OFAH’s Angler and Hunter Radio.
In that interview he spoke passionately about his reasons for dedicating so much of his time over the years to conservation and his ongoing appreciation for those who support the hatchery and its efforts.
“We have to step forward as sportsmen. Hunters, anglers, the rest of us, we have to look after our future,” he said.
This isn’t the first time that van Rooyen has been recognized for his efforts with the hatchery. In 2012 he was inducted into the Sarnia Sports Hall of Fame and was presented with a Builder Award, which recognizes significant contributions in the establishment of a sport from its infancy to the mature state within the community.
OFAH representatives will present van Rooyen with his award at a club meeting on Sept. 29.
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