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Accidental fish farmer seeks partner to revitalize old hatchery


May 4, 2016
By Quentin Dodd

Civil engineer Darryl Goodson admits he’s pretty much a neophyte when it comes to aquaculture. It’s therefore no surprise to him that some may view his plan to renovate an old, long-disused salmon hatchery at a remote location near Fort Klamath, Oregon as somewhat far-fetched.

 Practically without realizing it, Goodson acquired the salmon-enhancement facility four years ago when he purchased the high-elevation ranch property. He brought the property to farm cattle, not fish. But one thing has led to another.

 The next thing he knew he was talking to representatives of the federal government and three local tribes about the potential for growing fish.

 The hatchery’s water rights to Fort Creek, a tributary of the Klamath, came along with the ranch. As long as Goodson does something fish-related with the hatchery within five years of his purchase, he said, the rights will continue. He’s got a year left to figure something out.

 He first considered growing suckerfish (now endangered). Then considered salmon fingerlings and fry to help revive salmon runs on the Klamath and its tributaries. But it was challenging to organize the logistics and garner support for these projects. His most recent idea is to grow rainbow trout.

 Goodson is feeling confident that the size and condition of the hatchery will allow him to grow enough trout for the food market in Portland and San Francisco.

 He acknowledges that despite all he’s learned about aquaculture in the last few years, there are still many hurdles ahead. So Goodson is looking for an experienced partner or tenant who can help him.

 There is a lot going for the project. The hatchery’s eight 137m x 4.5m (450-by-15ft) raceways are still intact and fully operable.

All that was needed to fire up the old hatchery was 800 amps of power. For about $10,000 this has been done with a three-phase, 460 unit to get the diesel boilers going.

 Goodson has also been thinking about installing a new water-recirculating system using about half of the 1.2m deep (4-ft) raceways as a water-treatment, water-cleaning program, to reassure the authorities and the Klamath Tribes downstream.

 Goodson acknowledges this is quite an undertaking. But with much of the infrastructure in place and with the right partner, he’s hopeful it will all work out.

– Quentin Dodd


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