A study published this month by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game outlines how Chinook hatchery production could boost numbers of the prized fish in state waters.
The study, titled ‘Hatchery Projects, Chinook Salmon, and Research Activities‘ describes the 2012 fishery disaster, specifically discussing Cook Inlet concerns.
Sam Rabung, one of the researchers, said the plan looks at how hatcheries could increase Chinook smolt in waterways, but there’s a larger issue to be considered…
Rabung: “The main point that most of the authors and co-authors, all of them, I would say, brought up is that again our hatchery program is very capable of producing smolts for release, but if we don’t know the mechanism that’s creating these diminishing returns, those releases may not result in any additional adults.”
We asked Rabung how he feels about the future of the fishery…
Rabung: “Well, I’m optimistic about the future of Chinook in general. One thing that comes to mind is in 2007/2008, in the Lower 48, the West Coast there were salmon disasters. There were no Chinook. There were fisheries closed, they were having catastrophes and last year and the projections for next year are record-setting harvests. And those maybe related to the Pacific current and where it hits the West Coast. We’ve seen sort of a relationship of this in the past. When our stock survivals are down, their stock survivals are up, and vice versa.”
Rabung said this study is in addition to the $10 million Chinook research project proposed by Governor Sean Parnell.