At the tail end of the 2017 fishing season, Cook Inlet Aquaculture Association is tallying up their numbers. Gary Fandrei, Executive Director, describes the season as a mixed bag with some species of salmon doing better than others.
“We don’t have final numbers at this point, but it looks to be that we came in at about 40 percent, 45 percent of what we were projecting,” Fandrei said, regarding sockeye salmon near Seward. “We were projecting 125,000 fish to come back there.”
However, more pink salmon than CIAA predicted have been showing up at the Tutka Bay Lagoon and Port Graham hatcheries.
“Both of those facilities have been better than we projected, probably as much as twice as good as we have seen,” Fandrei explained.
Port Graham’s numbers have especially shown an increase compared to last year.
“We had around 10,000 fish coming back because it was a project we were just getting up, and starting with this year, we are seeing closer to 100,000 fish coming back,” Fandrei said. “So that’s a significant improvement over the year before.”
He did not have sufficient data to talk about the cost-recovery numbers, or fish caught by CIAA to pay for operations, but Fandrei said those numbers will be available at a later date.
Even though commercial fishing is winding down around the state, the hatchery is at the peak of its program. It’s beginning to put eggs in the hatcheries now.