Alaska’s salmon hatcheries are documenting their economic benefits in advance of a Board of Fisheries town hall this month in Anchorage.

The state’s hatchery program, which has operated since the early 1970s, is the target of a small group of critics who claim the fish are jeopardizing survival of wild stocks on the Kenai Peninsula, and they want caps on hatchery fish releases. 

An economic impact report by the McDowell Group for the Prince William Sound Aquaculture Corporation, or PWSAC, shows that its fish provide a nice pay day for fishermen far beyond the Sound.

About 220 seiners fish in Prince William Sound hailing from 22 Alaska communities, along with nearly 520 drift gillnetters from 30 towns. The Sound also is home to 30 setnet sites.

Fishermen from Cordova and Valdez hold the most permits for the PWSAC region at 325, earning nearly $37 million at the docks in 2017.

That’s followed closely by salmon harvesters from the Kenai Peninsula Borough with 155 permits and a pay day of about $32 million.  Ninety seven Homer residents pocketed all but $10 million from that.

The municipality of Anchorage ranks third with 81 Sound salmon fishermen salmon who made $14 million last year. The Mat Su Borough, mostly Wasilla, is home to 34 permit holders who earned $3.5 million.

From 2012 through 2017, PWSAC salmon accounted for 43 percent of the region’s total salmon with one in three pinks coming from local hatcheries.

PWSAC is funded primarily through selling a portion of the hatchery fish to processors and also a 2 percent enhancement tax paid by fishermen.

PWSAC’s five hatcheries generated nearly $11 million in landing taxes split between communities where the fish was landed and the state over the six year duration of the study.

The Fish Board’s hatchery town hall is set for the afternoon of October 16 in Anchorage.

Find links to a live audio stream here —

              New dates!  Nov. 18-20, Seattle