Owing to an agreement with Japanese technicians, leaders of fish trap construction, the station was built in the best interests of the environment.
The Fish Capture and Breeding Station is located at the end of the boardwalk
where Pocahullo Creek flows into Lake Lacar. At present, it is not open to the public due to renovations but there used to be guided tours to witness the life cycle of salmonidae, especially rainbow and brown trout.
In May, during autumn, lake salmonidae swim upstream to spawn. These species were introduced over a century ago and quickly adapted. However, their reproduction levels have been recorded as low: a female spawns 5000 eggs from which only two fry are born.
Poaching has also had a negative influence in their reproductive processes as well as hindering fly-fishing, a tourist attraction in the area. Because of this, the Municipality and the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) through the Neuquén Applied Technology Centre (CEAN) began the project for the construction of the Fish Capture and Breeding Station in 2004.
Japan, where there are three working fish traps, is a leader in the matter. However, there is scant experience in the rest of the world. Actually, the work was based on native American Indians who used traps to fish in the nineteenth century.
In San Martín de los Andes
the station imitates the habitat of the fish (logs and stones), using natural resources efficiently. Capture = Protection
Locally known as the fish trap, it consists of an 180-meter-long canal which gets its water from a detour in the stream that later rejoins its natural course.
At the mouth of the stream, there is an underwater net which makes the fish enter the canal. A big mill-like iron wheel with three baskets catches the fish without harming them and carries them automatically to the pools next to the canal.
Once in captivity they are classified according to sex, maturity and species and chosen to spawn. Specialized personnel are in charge of artificial reproduction achieving a rise of up to 70% and an increase in fish for breeding. The rest are set free to increase the salmonidae population of different lakes in the area.
Artificial reproduction is not the only task of the specialized personnel. They are also in charge of medical care, the study of scales and creating awareness about the proper care of natural resources during their guided tours.