Letters to the Editor

Letter: Hatchery misinformation

Why does Rep. Sarah Vance’s misguided House Bill 52 falsely pretend China Poot Bay sockeye salmon depend on the Tutka pink salmon hatchery so she can carve out the heart out of Kachemak Bay State Park’s Critical Habitat Area? Department of Fish and Game documents validate the hero of China Poot’s sockeye is Trail Lakes Hatchery near Moose Pass, not the diseased, insolvent Tutka hatchery.

According to the 1998 Tutka Hatchery Annual Management Plan and Reports (FMR) 07-42, signed by top Fish and Game staff and its deputy commissioner: “Due to problems associated with securing a disease-free water, “Efforts to incubate and rear sockeye were plagued by the infectious hematopoietic necrosis virus (IHNV) in the Tutka hatchery, the experimental sockeye program was relatively short lived, suspended in 1998. In 2004, CIAA halted all Tutka Hatchery operations, essentially ending annual full-scale pink salmon incubation and release programs.”

Since Trail Lakes continued China Poot fisheries after this 2004 Tutka Hatchery closure, why is Rep. Vance using this excuse? Fish and Game’s Pathology Evaluation states: “Since 2005, the Lagoon has served solely as a ‘saltwater release site’ for sockeye smolt reared in the Trail Lakes Hatchery administered under the Trail Lakes hatchery permit.”

Even the shallow warming “saltwater lagoon release site” that flows into Tutka Bay poses deadly problems for sockeye. CIAA Director Dean Day explained the active search for a sockeye-friendly “freshwater release site” like its Hazel, Kirshner and Leisure Lake that flows into China Poot: “… the sockeye broodstock at Tutka Lagoon has been challenging for a number of reasons … as far back as 2014, we have searched for alternate locations. Port Graham was not successful for a number of reasons related to the volume of freshwater available. Kirshner has been investigated, but it’s a challenge. To date, we’ve been unable to locate an area. We’ve had issues, the lensing bags at Tutka Lagoon …”

The lagoon is shallow warming saltwater. Sockeye require freshwater. So CIAA uses artificial lensing bags — a fake lake, floating kiddy pool — that, unfortunately, also contribute to sockeye mortality.  Don’t be duped from Rep. Vance’s deceptive hearsay. Trail Lakes Hatchery is your China Poot sockeye salmon hero, not the insolvent, diseased Tutka Hatchery that HB52 uses to desecrate our park’s critical habitat as a feed lot and dump for non-preferred pinks.

— Nancy Hillstrand


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