Update: 46 a few minutes ago Published: 46 a few minutes ago
I know I’m not the first person to bring up the Tutka Bay Lagoon Hatchery. There has been quite a bit of talk about the hatchery and Kachemak Bay State Park, in the months since Rep. Sarah Vance’s first Bill 52 sponsorship. If adopted, the HB52 would enable continued operation of the Tutka Bay Lagoon Hatchery and compatibility with Kachemak Bay State Park functions. The hatchery would be allowed to continue operating, as it has for decades, and continue to provide a valuable resource to Alaskans throughout the region. However, if HB52 fails, the ripple effects will negatively affect fishing, tourism, food security, and economic opportunity throughout Alaska. It is important to draw a line between the two results and to clarify the real impacts linked to each result. It’s time for anglers in this region to get the facts about this important end goal that Rep. Vance is working so diligently toward.
HB52 is proposing a boundary adjustment involving the removal of approximately 126 acres from the park while adding approximately 266 acres to the Cottonwood area of the park. Public access to the lagoon and surrounding trails via the hatchery grounds, and therefore access for hiking, boating, fishing, camping, etc., will remain the same as before. over the past 45 years. By adjusting the park boundaries to remove the hatchery from the park, HB52 will resolve a land disposal issue with the hatchery and ensure that it can continue operations. Seward, Whittier, Cordova, Homer, Chugach Alaska Corp. and the Seward Chamber of Commerce expressed support for the bill, understanding the vital role hatcheries play in maintaining one of Alaska’s most valuable resources: sustainable fishing. Rep. Vance has been a clear advocate for Alaskans on this issue and has worked closely with the State of Alaska Department of Natural Resources to correct the existing issue regarding land designation, hatchery and park. .
If HB52 were to fail, sockeye salmon releases at Lake Kirschner, Lake Hazel, and China Poot Lake would cease to exist altogether. China Poot dip net fishing would stop. Recreational sockeye salmon fishing in Tutka Bay Lagoon would become a thing of the past. In the Lower Cook Inlet, between 3 and 7 million pounds of pink salmon harvest opportunities that support cost recovery, common ownership and fish processing would be eliminated. Tourism in the park would feel the effects, the food security of Alaskans who depend on these fisheries for their livelihoods would be threatened, and the south-central economy would suffer. Although some have suggested that other programs run by the Cook Inlet Aquaculture Association, or CIAA, would not be affected by the Tutka Bay Lagoon hatchery closure, this is not the case. For a not-for-profit organization like CIAA, the hatchery closure would have a significant negative impact on CIAA’s ability to operate these other programs and derive a portion of the company’s revenue from its revenue if the Tutka Bay Lagoon hatchery was scheduled to close.
HB52 is not a bill to save the Tutka Bay Lagoon Hatchery from closing. It is a bill that will save the 25 million pounds of commercial fish caught each year. It’s a bill that will save nearly $32 million in off-ship value as the hatchery contributes to the broader Alaskan economy each year. It is a bill that will save the more than 26,000 sockeye salmon that the hatchery produces and are harvested from sport fishing and the more than 4 million sockeye salmon that are stocked in Resurrection Bay. Last but not least, this is a bill that will save jobs in Alaska, increase harvesting opportunities for sport, subsistence and commercial fishers, support harvest numbers for guides and charter boat captains who take customers and reduce pressure on salmon runs in years of lower abundance. Sustainable Alaska fishing is supported by our hatcheries, including the Tutka Bay Lagoon Hatchery, to ensure long-term abundance. HB52 is good for Tutka Bay Lagoon Hatchery, yes, but it’s also good for Kachemak Bay State Park, anglers of all types, south-central communities, and Alaskans statewide. who like to fish in this area for recreation and to fill their freezers.
Rod Van Saun has been involved in the Cook Inlet fisheries for over 30 years. His experience includes personal sport fishing, coaching sport fishers, seining, set netting, processing, tendering, dip netting, as well as selling and retail and commercial fish marketing. He is passionate about making fishing sustainable for future generations of Alaskans.
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