The Ups and Downs of Cost Recovery Harvests



The Ups and Downs of Cost Recovery Harvests
The Newsletter of the Cook Inlet Aquaculture Association
Issue 76
Fall/Winter 2016
The Ups and Downs of Cost Recovery Harvests
ost recovery harvest—if you have been in the fishing industry you
have probably heard that term before. For Cook Inlet Aquaculture
Association (the Association), cost recovery harvest is one of the three
revenue sources available for supporting the hatcheries and field projects we
are involved in. The other two revenue sources are Salmon Enhancement Tax
(SET) and grants. Cost recovery harvests are directly related to the hatchery
production and can only occur in specific areas around the location(s) of
hatchery stocking(s). These areas are called Special Harvest Areas or SHAs.
These SHAs are defined in regulation and provide information on who,
where, and when fishing can take place in that area.
Until just recently, the Association has relied on one species (sockeye)
and one location (Resurrection Bay) for the majority of the cost recovery
harvest, leaving the other SHAs (Tutka Bay, Kirschner, China Poot, and
Neptune Bay) for common property fishing. However, as any fisherman
can attest, the actual returns don't always equal the projected returns. It is
always nice when the returns are higher than projected but are disappointing
when they come in lower. This is even more significant when relying on
one species and one area.
Figure 1 shows the number of salmon in the cost recovery harvest over the last
10 years at Resurrection Bay. As the figure indicates the cost recovery harvest
at Resurrection Bay over this period can be described as a roller coaster with
one year being excellent and the next year being a disappointment. This
variability makes it very difficult to build and improve programs.
Number of salmon harvested as cost recovery
Cost recovery harvest, Tutka Bay Lagoon, 2015.
This was the situation that the Association was facing until 2010, when the
Board of Directors decided to reopen Tutka Bay Lagoon Hatchery (TBLH) for
pink production. The Association also took over ownership/operation of the
Port Graham Hatchery (PGH) in 2014 again focusing on pink salmon. Not
only will the operation at these two facilities increase the number of locations
where cost recovery can occur, it also provides for species diversification.
The benefits of this diversification were evident in 2015. Once again,
Resurrection Bay came in lower than projected despite a successful return
in 2014. Normally, this would have created significant financial hardship for
the organization.
Figure 1. Number of salmon harvested for cost recovery in Resurrection Bay, 2005–2014.
Board member
profile: Matt Alward
Page 2
Staff highlights Page 2
BOD update Page 2
Executive Director’s
Page 3
Counting salmon smolt
at Kasilof Page 4
Community persepctive
Page 5
Accessing data and reports
Page 5
Alaska salmon hatcheries
Page 6
Education and outreach
Page 7
New grant Page 7
US Postage
Anchorage, AK
Permit #957
Issue 76
Board member profile: Matt Alward
ne of the newest members of the Cook Inlet Aquaculture Association’s
Board of Directors is Matt Alward from Homer. As a small business
owner, commercial fisherman, and dedicated volunteer in support of the
maritime industry, Matt brings a wealth of experience and enthusiasm to
the Board.
Matt grew up in Berkeley, California in the construction business. His father,
Keith, is a contractor who taught Matt the fine details of carpentry. One
of the highlights of this work was helping his father rebuild a Frank Lloyd
Wright home—the Buehler Home—that had been partially destroyed by fire.
As an 18 year old who “always wanted to come to Alaska,” Matt hitched a
ride with a friend and arrived in Homer in 1992. He quickly started working
in construction but found limited opportunities for the finely-detailed finish
work that he preferred. He started working in the fishing industry in 1994
when he took a job herring fishing in Kodiak.
During the winter of 1995–96, Matt landed a job repairing seine nets for
Dan Moran, who owned the shop Just Knots in Homer. Matt learned to
repair and build nets. He applied the same attention to detail to this job as
he had in construction.
Matt stayed focused on the net business for several years, eventually taking
over the business from Dan in 2007. Matt renamed the business to “Bulletproof
Nets, Inc.” He took the business from three employees completing 30 seine
nets a year to 12–14 employees and a business partner currently completing
90 nets a year.
“If anyone told me I would make a career in gear work, I would have told
them they were nuts,” said Matt. Being on the leading edge of innovation
in design and materials is what motivates Matt. “If we built the perfect net,
then I will quit and move onto other challenges.”
Matt also stayed in the fishing business with ventures into longlining and
scallop fishing, along with herring and salmon seining. He purchased his
first seiner in 2004, the 32-foot Shrike, and fished in lower Cook Inlet. In
2008, he purchased the 53-foot Challenger, and seines in Kodiak. Matt also
has employed his children (Quinn 17; Naomi 21; and Eliott 23) as deckhands
and his wife Rene is the bookkeeper for Bulletproof Nets.
Matt’s professional life has lead to a very busy volunteer life. He currently
volunteers for the Homer Marine Trades Association, North Pacific Fisheries
Association, United Fishermen of Alaska, Seafood Harvesters of America,
and the Cook Inlet Aquaculture Association. He serves as a board member
or committee member for many of these organizations.
Matt is also active in Maritime Works, an effort to support and sustain
Alaska’s maritime workforce development plan put forth by the State of
Alaska, the University of Alaska, and various fisheries, seafood, and marine
Staff highlights
industry sectors. When
asked why he volunteers,
Matt replied “I want to
try and give back to the
industry that made me
and it is important to
keep the industry viable.”
You would think between
his business, fishing,
and volunteering, Matt
would have little time for
anything else. But, he has
been on the same co-ed
softball team in Homer
for 22 years and manages
to get in four to five games
before having to leave for
Matt Alward, Director
One spring, he had a net in his shop that was due to the owner the next
day. He took a break from the net, and went to a softball game where he
ran into the short stop while chasing a fly ball. This resulted in a torn ACL.
Rather than seek medical attention, he went back and finished the net for
the client, working until 3:00 a.m. He eventually did get to a doctor, but this
illustrates the work ethic that Matt hopes to foster in youth by volunteering
with groups that work with students such as the Homer Marine Trade
Association and Maritime Works.
Matt started volunteering with Cook Inlet Aquaculture Association early in
2015. He took over the Cook Inlet Seiners Association seat formerly held
by Alex Roth and sits on the Finance Committee.
Matt joined the Association because he believes it to be an asset to the
community—he sees an important role for the Association in the contentious
salmon fisheries in Cook Inlet. “We need to help ease the tension between
commercial and sport interests by using the Association to enhance fisheries
for all users,” said Matt. He went on to explain that fisheries are enhanced
by producing hatchery-raised salmon or by initiating habitat projects such
as looking for the invasive water weed elodea in high-priority lakes in the
Matanuska-Susitna Valley.
Matt recognizes that the Association also is faced with challenges, such
as getting enough eggs in its hatcheries to make them successful. As
demonstrated by his professional and personal endeavors, Matt enjoys a
challenge and working on complex problems. His passion for hard work
will help lead the Association to future successes.
Board of Directors update
n the fall of 2015, we had three staff members resign their positions at
Tutka Bay Lagoon Hatchery. Dale Brewster, Miranda Green, and Jake Rice
all decided to pursue other career avenues. Two of the three openings have
been filled. Adam Sullivan has been hired as a Fish Culturist. Adam comes
to us from the Lower 48 where he had been working in the aquaculture
industry. Charles Wlasniewski has also been hired as a Fish Culturist. Charles
has experience working in Alaska’s hatchery program most recently with
Kodiak Regional Aquaculture Association. The third opening will be filled
later this spring when feeding activities pick up.
oard member Steve Tvenstrup has stepped down as one of the two the
United Cook Inlet Drift Association representatives on the Board of
Directors. Steve served on the Executive Committe as well. He is replaced
on the Board by Bob Merchant, who is no stranger to the Association
having served on the board previously. Steve’s service to the Board is much
appreciated and we welcome Bob back!
Earlier in the summer, biologist Matt Smukall left to pursue his Ph.D. Matt
began his employment at the Association as an intern and was involved
in operating the northern pike project in the Matanuska-Susitna Valley.
The vacant biologist position was filled in January 2016 by Rodney Hobby.
Rodney started with the Association as a seasonal assistant on the Kasilof
Project (see page 3) in 2012. He recently graduated from the University of
Alaska Fairbanks with a degree in fisheries.
The next Board of Directors meeting will be held in
the CIAA meeting room on
January 16, 2016 at 10:00 a.m.
Seasonal positions for 2016 will be open soon.
Please visit
Open to the public.
None of the five at-large Board of the Directors seats expire this year. Look
for future vacancies and election information later this fall.
The 39th Annual Meeting will be
February 20, 2016 at 10:00 a.m.
Issue 76
Executive Director’s message
n the previous issue of Smolts I wrote about the formation of the Aquaculture Association and the diversity of
our programs and Cook Inlet. I would like to continue that discussion further as it relates to the challenges and
opportunities we experienced this year for generating our operating funds.
First, the Association has both long- and short-term goals for its hatchery programs. A short-term goal is to rebuild
the hatchery programs in lower Cook Inlet. This is driven by our mission to provide additional fish for harvest and by
a need to stabilize our cost recovery funding by diversifying our harvest opportunities. Over the long term, stabilized
cost recovery funding will allow the Association to conduct salmon rehabilitation projects in other areas of Cook Inlet.
For several years the Association operated one hatchery, Trail Lakes, with a limited number of sockeye programs. Gary Fandrei, Executive Director
When the sockeye returns were down, Association-generated funds were also down. We struggled to maintain the
programs that provided additional fish for common property harvest, and also the harvest opportunities that provided the funds needed for future
operations and assessments.
We haven’t quite met our short-term goal of rebuilding the lower Cook Inlet hatchery programs and diversifying our cost recovery harvest opportunities
yet, but the 2015 cost recovery harvest provides a good example of how future hatchery cost recovery programs will mutually support each other, stabilize
funding, and provide future harvest opportunities for common property and cost recovery harvests.
In late 2014 and early 2015, the Board of Directors met to set the hatchery programs for the upcoming year. Staff were directed to identify the cost of
operating these programs and estimate the funds needed from cost recovery harvests to balance the budget. Based on the 2015 projected operating expenses
and fish returns, we believed we could secure our 2015 financial cost recovery need from sockeye salmon returning to Resurrection Bay. Sockeye, pink,
and coho salmon returning to other sites—Port Graham, Tutka Bay, English Bay Second Lake, Leisure Lake, Hazel Lake, Kirschner Lake and Hidden
Lake—would all be available for common property harvest.
Focusing on Resurrection Bay entirely for cost recovery would have turned out to be a huge mistake for the Association. The number of sockeye
returning to Resurrection Bay was disappointing and it looked like our 2015 cost recovery harvest was going to fall far short of the goal. However, based
on past experience, the staff and the Board of Directors had considered that the Resurrection Bay sockeye return could be low and there may be a need
to conduct a harvest in another area (see the cover article on cost recovery). In 2015, the Tutka Bay Lagoon Hatchery pink salmon return was strong
and we were able to redirect the cost recovery harvest to pink salmon. We did not meet our 2015 cost recovery goal, but the 2015 cost recovery harvest
wasn’t a failure. The harvest strategy demonstrated the value of producing more than one species of salmon and that our hatchery programs do mutually
support each other.
There are many unknowns in operating hatchery programs that can result in some surprises. We make good projections on operating costs, but projecting
fish returns is more challenging. We believe operating three hatcheries and producing more than one species provides greater opportunity to secure the
funds needed to operate not only the hatcheries, but also to support the projects we conduct to evaluate our hatchery programs and to rehabilitate and
maintain naturally-spawned salmon.
Cost Recovery—continued from page 1
TBLH and PGH’s programs are still in the developmental
stages and the true potential for each program won’t be seen
for a couple more years but if this year’s return at TBLH is any
indication, the decision to diversify the Association’s hatchery
program was the right one. The diversification will provide not
only stability to CIAA’s operations by removing the peaks and
valleys of one location/one species, but also provide greater
opportunity for common property fishing. Imagine what can
occur when all locations and all species are experiencing good
Percentage of marine survival
However, the return of pink salmon to Tutka helped soften the
low sockeye salmon returns at Resurrection Bay (Table 1), with
the best marine survival recorded since the Association took
over operations of TBLH from the State of Alaska (Figure 2)
in 1994. In 2014, TBLH released 51 million pink salmon fry
at Tutka Bay. In 2015, cost recovery harvest of pink salmon
return to the hatchery was 2,141,201, generating revenue
of $1,357,799. Add to that the number of broodstock used,
escapement to Tutka Creek and the commercial harvest, over
2.47 million fish returned for 4.84% marine survival.
Return year
Figure 2. Pink salmon marine survival, TBLH, 1992–2005, 2013–2015.
Table 1. Summary of 2015 cost recovery harvest.
SHA location
Resurrection Bay/Bear Lake Sockeye
Tutka Bay
Tutka Bay
China Poot/Neptune Bay
Number of
Issue 76
Counting salmon smolt at Kasilof
very year the Association operates smolt traps and salmon weirs to count
the numbers of salmon either leaving or returning to a system. These
data are important to evaluate natural salmon populations, the performance
of salmon habitat improvement, and hatchery release projects. Salmon
population data are also used by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game
(ADF&G) for fisheries management. During the summer of 2015, salmon
data (smolt and/or adult) were collected for Bear, English Bay, Hidden,
Leisure, and Tustumena lakes on the Kenai Peninsula, and Shell Lake in
the Matanuska-Susitna Valley (see page 5 “Accessing data and reports”).
smolt trap near the confluence of Crooked Creek and Kasilof River. The trap
is suspended between a system of pontoons and is anchored down to the
substrate. The design allows water to flow up the incline, and pour down a
series of live boxes, were smolt are captured.
For the 17th year under the Association’s operation, in early summer
2015, a crew of two stationed themselves at the Kasilof River, the outlet to
Tustumena Lake to count salmon smolts, primarily sockeye. The purpose
of this project is to evaluate the salmon population rearing in Tustumena
Lake. Although it is now a salmon enumeration project for CIAA, it began
in the 1970s as an enhancement project.
In addition to the daily counts, staff collected a sample of sockeye smolt to
determine age, weight, and length. Several scales were removed and mounted
on a glass slide for subsequent age determination. One of every 500 sockeye
smolt captured in the trap was measured using nonlethal procedures. These
fish were released back to Kasilof River.
In 1974, ADF&G conducted the first sockeye salmon egg take in Tustumena
Lake for the newly-opened Crooked Creek Hatchery located in Kasilof.
Sockeye salmon eggs were collected annually by ADF&G from 1975 through
1993 for releases back to Tustumena Lake and several other sites throughout
the Cook Inlet drainage.
In 1993, the operation of the Crooked Creek Hatchery including the
Tustumena Lake sockeye enhancement project was transferred to the
Association. ADF&G continued to conduct enumeration activities associated
with the Tustumena Lake smolt and adult sockeye salmon migrations
while the Association accepted responsibility to oversee and conduct the
broodstock collection, incubation and rearing, and fry releases.
In 2015, the field crew lived at the Crooked Creek State Park for the duration
of the smolt migration. Every day they took a small boat out to the trap to
check for smolts—they count not only sockeye salmon, but also note any
other species of fish caught in the trap.
Because the trap cannot capture every smolt swimming down the wide
Kasilof River, a mark-recapture study to estimate the total population is
used. Once a week, staff collected 1,000 sockeye smolt for this study. These
fish were held in a large oxygenated-tank in the bed of a CIAA truck and
temporarily dyed a gold color. The dyed fish were then transported upriver
to a release site above the Sterling Highway Bridge. The dyed fish that are
recaptured in the trap were then counted to determine the percentage of
fish that are being caught by the trap. Typically the dye wears off after four
or five days and does not harm the fish. Six mark-recapture tests were
conducted in 2015.
Tustumena Lake is a designated “wilderness area” and is entirely enclosed
within the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. Due to this designation, the U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) called into question the compatibility
of the Tustumena Lake enhancement project with the refuge purposes. In
2002, issuance of a permit for the Tustumena enhancement project was
legally challenged. By 2004, the Association was no longer able to obtain a
permit from the USFWS to continue operations on Tustumena Lake and all
enhancement activities were suspended. Hatchery-incubated sockeye salmon
released as fry in 2004 were projected to migrate out of Tustumena Lake
through 2006. Sampling procedures to estimate the hatchery contribution
to the smolt migration were discontinued after 2006.
Despite losing the enhancement project, the Association continued to
enumerate the Tustumena Lake smolt migration in the Kasilof River, and
today this project, in conjunction with the adult counts conducted by
ADF&G, provides valuable information about the health of the Tustumena
Lake sockeye salmon population.
Although smolt enumeration projects for CIAA have become routine, the
unique challenges of working on the Kasilof River make the field work far
from routine. Rather than using a traditional smolt trap that spans across
a small outlet, the width of the Kasilof River requires the use of an incline
Dyed salmon smolt, Kasilof River, 2015.
Between May 19 and July 4, 2015, staff counted 319,156 sockeye smolt
in the trap. By incorporating the results of the mark-recapture study, it is
estimated that 9.8 million sockeye smolt migrated out of Tustumena Lake.
The 2015 migration was nearly 3 million above that estimated in 2013 (7
million) and is about 4 million above the 1998–2015 average of 5.9 million.
This average does not include data from 2014 or 2011, which
were not collected. The 2015 migration is the highest recorded
since the hatchery contribution ended in 2006.
The 2015 smolt project operated with funding provided by a
State of Alaska Legislative Grant and ADF&G. Because of a
lack of funding the project was not operated in 2014 and is not
slated to operate in 2016 unless additional funding can be found.
With the different fishing pressures on Cook Inlet salmon in
general, it is vital to keep monitoring the health of the Kasilof
River salmon population because it is the second-most import
river, behind the Kenai River, in upper Cook Inlet in terms of
producing salmon.
Setting up the smolt trap, showing the width of the Kasilof River at the trap site, 2015.
Gary Fandrei, CIAA’s Executive Director, highlighted the
importance of projects like this one to fisheries management,
“Projects, like the Kasilof River smolt migration, provide
good information for management decisions. Without good
information, fisheries are managed conservatively. Good
information results in more harvest opportunities.”
Issue 76
Community perspective
he Kenai Peninsula Food Bank provides food to Kenai Peninsula
residents from Seward to Homer and across the Inlet to Tyonek.
In the mid-80s founder Linda Parker noticed her neighbors dumpster
diving for food so they could feed their families. Ms. Parker and other
concerned residents formed the Food Bank organization incorporating in
1988 as a 501 (c) (3) organization. As a Feeding America Food Bank the
Kenai Peninsula Food Bank is part of the largest network of Food Banks
in the US. The Kenai Peninsula Food Bank is the only organization that
provides complete cooked meals from its facility via a diner.
During the first ten months of 2015, staff assisted over 700 households
each month. Ten years ago staff assisted less than 500 households. A
food bank client might be the senior next door who has $102 left after
paying his utilities for the month. This has to pay for gas to get to doctor’s
appointments plus food and incidentals like toilet paper and soap and
any extra medication. Or a client could be the single parent working in
the service field who just had a large car repair bill or medical emergency.
Today staff and volunteers process a million pounds of food, half
gleaned from local grocery stores five days a week. Incoming food is
also received from the USDA programs—Temporary Food Assistance
Program (TEFAP) and Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP).
Individuals donate via food drives or by bringing food to the facility on
the corner of Kalifornsky Beach Road and Community College Drive.
This issue’s guest column is by Linda Swarner, Executive Director,
Kenai Peninsula Food Bank.
Processors donate excess fish or
unclaimed products. SeaShare fish
( is acquired
directly or via the Food Bank of
Alaska. Other inventory is gleaned
from wholesalers, farmers and
gardeners and grown in the Food
Bank’s garden and Hoop House.
Food distribution programs
providing food directly to residents
include the USDA programs, Direct
Service (similar to a Food Pantry)
and Fireweed Diner meals. The
TEFAP inventory includes canned
Alaska salmon. The Warehouse Linda Swarner removing ice from a tote
full of pink salmon.
Program allows 70 members,
churches and nonprofit organizations like the Boys & Girls Club and
Senior Centers, to feed low income, frail and needy individuals via their
feeding programs.
The Cook Inlet Aquaculture Association (CIAA) provided protein to
Kenai Peninsula residents earlier this year. The Kenai Peninsula Food
Bank partnered with CIAA in July with the shipment of three totes of
pinks from the Tutka Bay Lagoon Hatchery to the Food Bank Facility. A
staff member picked up the fish in Homer the late afternoon of July 2nd.
The first tote of approximately 400 fish were processed by Soldotna Rotary
Club members and a Food Bank Board member at the beginning of a
busy 4th of July weekend. Rotarians filleted while the Board member
sealed fillets using a commercial sealer. Food Bank clients were given
the opportunity to process their own fish the following week.
Fresh pinks were baked and served to Fireweed Diner attendees and
frozen fillets were distributed directly to clients in the Direct Service
Program. Clients appreciated the high source of protein as some can no
longer physically fish nor do they have someone to fish for them.
The Food Bank is very grateful for CIAA’s support throughout the years.
Crew members have graciously brought end-of-season camp food
annually to us. We look forward to continued partnership!
Kenai Peninsula Food Bank volunteers filleting pink salmon donated by CIAA, 2015.
For more information or how you can continue our mission of “No one
deserves to be hungry” please contact Linda Swarner, Executive Director
at 262-3111 or [email protected] Visit us on Facebook or
at the website Upcoming events include the Pick.
Click.Give program, Clash of the Culinary King’s on April 2nd and Soup
Supper & Auction in August.
Accessing data and
ach field season, smolt enumeration
and adult escapement data are posted
to CIAA’s website (
data.html) daily. When the field season is
over, staff begins the job of reviewing all
the data collected, which typically includes
environmental data associated with the
monitoring, and for some water bodies,
limnological data. Once the data are
reviewed for accuracy, the lead biologist
will start analyzing the data and preparing
progress and/or grant reports. These reports
can be read or downloaded at http://www.
Collecting salmon scales for aging, Hidden Lake, 2015.
Issue 76
Alaska salmon hatcheries:
not your old school production programs
s an Alaska hatchery-raised salmon different
from a wild salmon? It isn’t and this
important fact is often misunderstood and
leads to misconceptions about Alaska’s private
nonprofit hatchery program (PNP).
There are important distinctions between
Alaska’s salmon hatcheries and those found
in the other areas of the United States and
other nations. The first distinction is related to
the purpose of salmon hatcheries in Alaska.
The Alaska hatchery program is designed
to increase salmon abundance and enhance
fisheries, but only when naturally-spawned
stocks are protected. This contrasts sharply with
salmon hatcheries elsewhere, where hatcheries
were often built to replace salmon habitat lost
to land use decisions such as erecting dams.
Hatcheries in those areas, such as Washington
state, have been used to replace natural salmon
production lost to development and other Figure
of salmon
in Alaska,
1. Commercial
of salmon
in Alaska
human decisions.
Source: Vercessi, L. 2014. Alaska salmon fisheries enhancement program 2013 annual report. Alaska Department of Fish and
Game, Fishery Management Report 15-15, Anchorage.
Alaska’s hatchery program supplements natural
In 1976,
a law
was enacted
that directed
commissioner ofsport,
to designate
production, and provides stability in the year-to-year
of salmon
by the common
and commercial.
the state
the purpose
and planning
Figure 1 shows Alaska’s commercial salmon harvests
supplanted naturally-spawned salmon. And in fact, the contribution of hatchery-produced salmon can decrease fishing pressure on naturally-spawned
personnel and representatives of the qualified regional aquaculture association comprised of
wild stocks.
commercial, sport, and subsistence fishermen, processors, and members of the local
For comparison, the State of Washington reported
that a tagging
75% of the
Puget Sound
and 90%
of the salmonsalmon
of salmon
an RPTcaught
is to in
a regional
in Columbia River originate from hatcheries (
in placetofor
plan (CSP) for their respective region (5 AAC
is designed
a century because of land use decisions and the the
loss of efforts
native stocks.
in recentand
states such
as Washington
of salmon
salmon stock conservation to the role of their hatcheries.
production goals, objectives, and strategies. Plans are developed with consideration of the needs
of fisheries user groups and communities of the region. The approved plans are designed to have
Another important distinction between salmonanhatcheries
and elsewhere
is how
the salmon
are raised.
salmon are
in which
to consider
to periodically
in the hatchery during the early juvenile life stage,
are released
the wild. Bynecessary
design, only
local stocks
are permitted
use region.
and stepsThe
them astoconsidered
to meet
the changing
needs for
of the
taken to preserve local genetic profiles. There are
RPTs also review hatchery permit applications and ongoing and proposed fisheries enhancement
and naturally-spawned salmon. And there are policies
in and
that ensure
there is no manipulation
of the stock used
in asubjects.
hatchery program.
to the commissioner
on such
The responsibility
of the
ensure that
are within
of theatregional
Under the Alaska hatchery program, sperm (milt)
eggs is
stocks, projects
and the fertilized
fry emerge, they are transferred to rearing areas, such as raceways or net pens. The young fish are then released to the ocean where they live most of their
life cycle. This is often called “ocean ranching.” comment on fisheries enhancement projects. The goal is to optimize public benefit without
harming wild salmon stocks. Alaska statutes, regulations, and policies have been developed over
The time the fish spend in the hatchery is limited
the timeenhancement.
they spend in the wild. For example, when salmon are reared in saltwater net
to guidetofisheries
pens, the length of time spent in a net pen is typically less than 3 months, then the fish are released to the wild where they spend from 1 to 4 or 5 years.
At some salmon production facilities outside of Alaska, salmon may be grown to market size (from egg to adult) in a contained system, which is commonly
referred to as “fish farming.” It is important to understand that Alaska salmon hatcheries do not operate in this way.
So, why are we bringing all this up? We are hoping that a better understanding about our current hatchery operations will clear up some of the misconceptions
about salmon hatcheries in Alaska. For example, recently a few people expressed concern over the net pens we hope to move to the head of the Tutka
Bay Lagoon (see, page 6) and one of the concerns was the “year-round” operation of net pens.
However, when we rear salmon in a net pen it is for less than 3 months, and not year-round.
It is also important to understand that hatchery-raised salmon in Alaska are only here because the programs are set up to prioritize naturally-spawned
salmon first. The PNP salmon hatcheries around the state, including those operated by the Association, provide salmon to enhance fisheries. Because of
the way the hatcheries are operated and regulated, you can be sure that when you harvest or eat an Alaska salmon, you are getting a wild Alaska salmon,
whether it began its life in a hatchery or not.
Trail Lakes Hatchery
Port Graham Hatchery
Tutka Bay Lagoon Hatchery
Issue 76
Education and outreach
ummer months are always busy for the Association in terms of hatchery
operations and other field work. The opportunities for education and
outreach are also bountiful this time of year and the Association tries to
take advantage of these opportunities to not only talk about its operations,
but also to provide education surrounding healthy salmon. Below are just
a few of the highlights from this summer.
The Association continued partnering with ADF&G to engage kids and their
families in the anatomy of salmon at the 25th annual Kenai River Festival
in June. Staff member Cathy Cline, along with Patti Berkhahn of ADF&G,
demonstrated how to dissect a salmon and explained salmon anatomy and
how it functions. Many thanks to Snug Harbor Seafoods for the donation
of salmon for the dissections.
In July, staff members Gary Fandrei and Lisa Ka’aihue presented the
Association’s enhancement program to a group of food experts that were
brought to Alaska by the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute. This was a
great opportunity to discuss the role of salmon hatcheries in Alaska to
national and internationals chefs and food critics.
Dissecting salmon, Kenai River Festival, 2015.
In August, staff members volunteered at the Silver Salmon Derby in Seward.
The Association has supported this event for a number of years by producing
juvenile coho salmon for the derby. Also in August, the Association received
an “Outstanding Fish Producer Award” at the annual Industry Appreciation
Day held in Kenai. We were honored to be the recipient of this award.
Whew, it was a busy summer for outreach!
Left to right: staff members Caroline Cherry, Rodney Hobby, Cathy Cline,
and Emily Heale, Silver Salmon Derby, Seward, 2015.
Later in the summer, the Association worked with the Matanuska-Susitna
Salmon Habitat Partnership to provide a site tour of some of the Partnership’s
projects. The Matanuska-Susitna Basin Salmon Habitat Partnership was
formed to address increasing impacts on salmon habitat from human use
and development in the Matanuska-Susitna Basin with a collaborative,
cooperative and nonregulatory approach, bringing together over 60 diverse
organizations to date. The Partnership has funded over 70 projects since 2006
and this site tour was an opportunity to highlights some of those projects
and successes. The Association provided a tour of its Shell Lake camp and
an overview of its project there (see below). Participants included regulators,
legislators, Native organizations, and members of the public.
Accepting the “Outstanding Fish Producer” Award
Left to right: Senator Peter Micciche, Board President Brent Johnson, Executive
Director Gary Fandrei, and Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor, Mike Navarre, 2015.
New grant to support salmon work in the Mat-Su
s mentioned in the cost recovery article on page 1, one of the Association’s revenue sources is grants. Over the last 40 years of operation, the Association
has received millions of dollars in grant funding, including some significant legislative grants for capital improvements to its hatcheries. Every year,
the Association applies for grants to support its operations.
This year the Association received a grant from the Matanuska-Susitna Borough for nearly $85,000 to support the monitoring of sockeye salmon smolt
and adults at Shell Lake, and engage in northern pike research to explore some of the potential consequences of pike suppression on salmon. This project
is part of a much broader rehabilitation project at Shell Lake initiated in 2012 by the Association.
Shell Lake in the Susitna River Watershed was once a significant contributor to the sockeye production in the Susitna River Watershed. Beginning in
the mid-2000s, the Association monitoring of the sockeye salmon smolt migration and the adult sockeye returns showed a steady decline in numbers.
It was determined that invasive northern pike, a disease caused by the microsporidian Loma salmonidae, and another parasite known to cause Proliferative
Kidney Disease (PKD) were all having a negative effect on the population of sockeye salmon. To circumvent the loss of sockeye fry by the northern pike
and to break the disease cycle of Loma salmonidae and PKD, the Association began a rehabilitation program in 2012, which included salmon stocking,
northern pike harvesting, and disease monitoring. The Association’s goal is to restore the Shell Lake salmon population to a sustainable level. With support
from the Matanuska-Susitna Borough, the Association plans to continue this important work to restore healthy salmon runs to Shell Lake.
The Association applied for a number of grants in 2015 and although some were not funded, others are still under consideration. By having diversity
in its revenue stream, the Association is able to focus not only on hatchery operations, but also on protecting wild salmon runs and the habitats those
salmon rely upon.
Issue 76
Board of Directors
Matanuska-Susitna Borough
Brian Bohman
Municipality of Anchorage
Kenai Peninsula Borough
Brent Johnson, President
City of Seward
Tim McDonald
Inlet Wide Commercial Fishermen Representative
Christine Brandt, 1st Vice President
Carl Hatten
John McCombs
Paul Roth
Robert Correia
City of Kachemak
Emil “Beaver” Nelson, 2nd Vice President
North Pacific Fisheries Association
Jessie Nelson, Secretary
John Gucer
Kenai Peninsula Fisherman’s Association
Will Faulkner
Northern District Setnetters of Cook Inlet
Page Herring
Kenny Rodgers
City of Homer
Mark Roth
United Cook Inlet Drift Association
Dyer VanDevere
Bob Merchant
Port Graham/Nanwalek Representative
Processor Representative
Vince Goddard
Tim Schmidt
Cook Inlet Region, Inc.
Paul Shadura II
Cook Inlet Fishermen’s Fund
Dave Martin, Treasurer
Stephen Vanek
Cook Inlet Seiners Association
Matt Alward
Jacob Wise
CIAA Staff and Locations
Gary Fandrei, Executive Director
Ron Carlson, Project Technician
Caroline Cherry, Hatchery Operations Coordinator
Cathy Cline, Temporary Project Technician
Emily Heale, Temporary Project Technician
Rodney Hobby, Biologist
Lisa Ka’aihue, Special Projects Manager
Barbara Morgan, Accounting Specialist/Office Assistant
Andy Wizik, Biologist
40610 Kalifornsky Beach Road, Kenai, Alaska 99611
Trail Lakes Hatchery
Tom Prochazka, Hatchery Manager
Kristin Beck, Assistant Hatchery Manager
Mike Cooney, Fish Culturist
Jennifer Mevissen, Fish Culturist
Vacant, Temporary Fish Culturist
P.O. Box 29, Moose Pass, Alaska 99631
Tutka Bay Lagoon Hatchery
Dean Day, Hatchery Manager
Vacant, Assistant Hatchery Manager
Adam Sullivan, Fish Culturist
Charles Wlasniewski, Fish Culturist
P.O. Box 3389, Homer, Alaska 99603
Port Graham Hatchery
Mike Smimmo, Hatchery Manager
Vacant, Assistant Hatchery Manager
Ephim Anahonak, Fish Culturist
Vacant, Temporary Fish Culturist
P.O. Box 5547, Port Graham, Alaska 99603
Subscribe to Smolts
If you are not currently receiving Smolts and would like to keep up with Cook Inlet
Aquaculture Association news, you can subscribe to Smolts. We publish Smolts twice
yearly. This publication is mailed free to all limited-entry salmon permit holders for
purse seine, drift gillnet, and setnet in Area H. It is also mailed free to any person
interested in CIAA.
To receive Smolts, send a request with your name, your organization’s name, and your
address to: Smolts, 40610 Kalifornsky Beach Road, Kenai, AK 99611
or to [email protected]
We invite you to connect with CIAA on our Facebook page at
For change of address for permit holders, notify Commercial Fisheries Entry
Commission (CFEC), P.O. Box 110302, Juneau, AK 99801-0302, or call them at 907-7896150. We use mailing labels from the CFEC. If your address is wrong, please contact
CFEC; we cannot correct your address.

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