Change of plan for Alaska hatchery
By Quentin Dodd
According to recent reports from Alaska, two net-pens operated by the Cooke Inlet Aquaculture Association (CIAA) will not be located in the main part of Tutka Bay as previously planned.
By Quentin Dodd
The CIAA decided to pull the plug on its contentious plan to grow the young pink salmon fry in the outer bay and instead moved its pens back into a lagoon near the head of the bay.
A statement from the non-profit, which operates three salmon hatcheries in the Cook Inlet region, announced the reversal a few weeks ago in reply to ongoing concerns about the location of its net pens in the bay.
It said that the CIAA’s board of directors would review the operation for the future, “to determine a coordinated strategy for going forward with net pen placement in future years.”
The net pens are expected to remain part of the CIAA’s operations at Tutka Bay Lagoon Hatchery, which raises pink salmon on the south side of Kachemak Bay near Homer.
Each spring, the pink salmon fry raised in the hatchery go into the pens for some weeks, to be fed there until released into the open ocean.
The association had requested permission from the state’s Department of Natural Resources and the Department of Fish and Game to move its pens out into open water near the head of the bay. That permit was granted in January last year and quickly triggered protest from park users and local charter boat operators.
Tutka Bay is a popular recreation spot in Kachemak Bay State Park, with tour boats passing through and lodges along its shores. At a public meeting about the net pens in May 2017, water taxi operators and park users testified against the move for aesthetic reasons. Commercial fishermen testified in favor of the move for the long-term increase in available pink salmon for harvest and stability of the hatchery organization.