Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Legislature lavishes aquaculture industry with cash

Alaska is a state flush with billions of dollars in surplus oil revenue.

So it’s not unusual to see our legislators spend a good chunk of that money every year on capital projects — everything from road improvements to research equipment to artificial turf for high school football fields.

Deckboss reviewed the new capital budget the Legislature passed April 15 and couldn’t help but notice the sizeable sums awarded to the state’s hatchery operators, as well as shellfish growers.

Hatcheries are a huge factor in Alaska’s “wild” salmon harvests. The hatcheries pump millions of baby fish into the ocean, many to return as adult salmon that sustain commercial fleets and processors.

Legislators tend to notice industries employing thousands of people, so it’s no surprise to see some serious hatchery love in the capital budget.

It also helps to have a persuasive lobbyist in Juneau.

The Cordova-based Prince William Sound Aquaculture Corp., one of the state’s biggest hatchery operators, employed two lobbyists this year for a combined $75,000, state records show.

Another hatchery operator, Juneau-based Armstrong-Keta Inc., employed a lobbyist for $30,000, and the Ketchikan-based Southern Southeast Regional Aquaculture Association paid its lobbyist $15,000.

Anyway, here is a list of aquaculture items compiled from the capital budget bill, which is headed to the governor for his signature — and for possible line item vetoes.

Southern Southeast Regional Aquaculture Association — hatchery equipment and deferred maintenance, $455,000

Crystal Lake Hatchery — deferred maintenance, $650,000

Metlakatla Indian Community — design and construction of chum hatchery, $500,000

Metlakatla Indian Community — net pens and hatchery improvements, $150,000

• Prince Of Wales Hatchery Association — hatchery equipment replacements and upgrades, $475,000

Northern Southeast Regional Aquaculture Association — Hidden Falls Salmon Hatchery, $1,237,000

Northern Southeast Regional Aquaculture Association — Medvejie Hatchery maintenance and facility improvements, $900,000

Northern Southeast Regional Aquaculture Association — Haines/Skagway spawning channels, $620,000

Prince William Sound Aquaculture Corp. — Cannery Creek Hatchery, $5,263,000

Prince William Sound Aquaculture Corp. — Main Bay Hatchery, $864,000

Cook Inlet Aquaculture Association — Trail Lakes Hatchery, $1,025,000

Cook Inlet Aquaculture Association — Tutka Bay Hatchery, $699,000

Alutiiq Pride Shellfish Hatchery, $460,000

Kachemak Shellfish Mariculture Association — oyster remote setting facility, $60,000

Kodiak Regional Aquaculture Association — Kitoi Bay Hatchery, $1,550,000

Kodiak Regional Aquaculture Association — Pillar Creek Hatchery, $909,000

Alaskan Shellfish Growers Association — shellfish industry technical assistance grants, $30,000

For a map of hatchery locations around the state, click here.


Anonymous said...

...and yet ADFG cries about cutting programs and staff because of budget cuts? How come there are two different pictures? Not enough funds, plenty of funds?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the map Wes. There is a combined log of knowledge and information going back at least 40 years on hatcheries enhancing salmon runs to the small rivers especially those in SE Alaska and those on Kodiak Island.

Those small rivers are very similiar in size to the rivers around Nome. Nome rivers are dying out and have been for 30 years - at least 3/4 of the time frame of which covers the history of hatcheries in other parts of the state. Nome rivers are dying out. Some are already dead - Penny River, Sinuk River, Solomon River. All dead within the last 30 years!

There is one little black dot you missed Wes. Buried somewhere in Political Salmon Wars obscurity is the Hobson Creek Hatchery just a little north of Nome. Put a black dot there and in parenthesis a note: vandalized in 2010. An incident based on dis and misinformation. The paper trail is long, the facts are there.

Yet, the Nome rivers are dying.

Rita Smith

Anonymous said...

To blogger 1, the lawmakers are doing the right thing. If the government agencies are not doing the right thing for the people, give it to the people to do the right thing for themselves. That's logical.

Anonymous said...

It should be pointed out that most of these facilities are actually state-owned, but operated under contract by the regional aquaculture associations. So, this is not a hand-out to hatcheries as much as the state taking care of its own property.

Anonymous said...

Looks like boobt is declaring $196k for gum flapping and arm twisting(lobbying accounts), not bad. Gotta get me in that game...'course you could do a LOT better if you're pushing oil or meds.

Anonymous said...

The headline and tone of your post is misleading. Without the hatchery system in place to protect cyclical returns, the harvest numbers would be dramatically decreased. When you look at the cumulative economic impact of these programs, the profits far surpass the costs.

Anonymous said...

A big issue that does not seem to be addressed is the impact of hatchery fish returns on wild stocks. There is some concern that while we have good economics with hatchery fish that it will eventually be at the cost of wild stocks. does that worry anybody?

Anonymous said...

Profits surpass costs? Really?? If that's so, why the give-away to the hatcheries? If they are such sound businesses, they should be reinvesting their own capital in their operations and paying back their existing loans. And why do the aquaculture associations (e.g Prince William Sound) still owe the state for outstanding loans?

The argument that the state is responsible for maintaining the hatchery infrastucture is specious; that is, unless you have some contract language to prove that equipment and other tangible property upkeep is the responsbility of state government.

There are two even more fundamental questions that ought to be answered:

Why is the state paying for more upkeep and hatchery production, when ADF&G doesn't have the staff to monitor and regulate the hatheries?

Why are we still force fed the crap that hatcheries simply "supplement" wild production?

Anonymous said...

Google salmon ranching.

Tim Smith said...

"A big issue that does not seem to be addressed is the impact of hatchery fish returns on wild stocks. There is some concern that while we have good economics with hatchery fish that it will eventually be at the cost of wild stocks. does that worry anybody?"

There is no shortage of Henny Pennies running around worrying about the impact of hatchery fish on the "wild stocks". What is lacking are well designed scientific studies showing that hatchery production has caused any significant harm to wild stocks in Alaska.

The hatcheries will make the sky fall crowd has exactly the same quality of scientific data supporting their worrying as those who tell us the Mayan Calendar predicts the December 21, 2012 apocalypse. They believe it so it must be true.

Anonymous said...

Comparing concerns about hatchery/wild interaction to the Mayan calendar is absurd.

Tim Smith said...

Agreed, that's my point. Believing that hatchery production does some undefined harm to the undefined wild stocks is equally absurd.

Anonymous said...

I would agree with your point, if it weren't for the fact that the aquaculture associations have historically blocked systematic data collection and analysis at the scale necessary to determine the effect of hatchery releases over time.

Anonymous said...

....This analysis suggests that agencies
considering the use of hatcheries for augmenting salmonids or other marine species should be
aware of the high probability that wild stocks may be adversely affected unless the harvesting of
the hatchery fish is isolated from the wild stocks and the hatchery and wild fish do not share
habitat during their early ocean life."

Quote from an abstract of a paper written by noted "Henny Penny" Ray Hilborn of FRI.

Tim Smith said...

Here's another quote from Ray Hilborn from his paper "Faith-based Fisheries" Fisheries, 2006 31(11):554-555. "Although the scientific community was unanimous in its condemnation of faith-based
teachings in evolution, we need to also reject agenda-driven, faith-based publication in fisheries and revive the peer review and publication process within our own community. Let’s go back to testable
hypotheses and evidence, and make sure that the peer reviewers know the data and the problem, and are not chosen because of their faith."

I haven't read the paper you quoted from and you didn't provide a reference but I would be very surprised if his opinion about hatchery and wild stocks comes from properly designed hypothesis testing or that it is directly applicable to Alaska. All of the pronouncements I have seen about this issue have been faith-based and I agree with Hilborn: that's not science.

Anonymous said...

Ray Hilborn and Doug Eggers authored the paper in 2000 that PWS hatchery pinks were displacing wild pinks. This wasn't a faith-based argument. Did you read that paper??

Carrying capacity is an ecological principle that applies to marine and terrestrial systems.

Do you really think (ie. "believe) there is no competition for habitat niches and/or food between hatchery fish and wild fish? If so, then do you really think that wild salmon outcompete hatchery salmon all the time, suffering no mortality??

Anonymous said...

Hey TS,

Since you fancy yourself a rationalist, you realize don't you that the absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence?

You have no way of knowing that hatchery fish aren't negatively interacting with wild fish. Where's YOUR evidence, what are the studies that demonstrate this? Please citations . . .

Tim Smith said...

Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence is not something science deals with. Untested hypotheses are nothing more than untested hypotheses.

I have no way of knowing that space aliens are not negatively interacting with fish but I doubt that they are. If somebody comes up with some convincing, replicable, empirical evidence I would have to reconsider my skepticism about that possibility.

Anonymous said...

Come on now to think hatchery fish are not negatively affecting wild stocks. I do not need a scientist to tell me hatchery fish are affecting the wild stock.

Tim Smith said...

"I do not need a scientist to tell me hatchery fish are affecting the wild stock."

That is what Ray Hilborn calls a faith based belief.

In some situations in Alaska, hatchery fish are the wild stocks according to the regulatory definition of wild stock.

5 AAC 39.222(f)(43) Policy for the management of sustainable salmon fisheries. "wild salmon stock" means a stock of salmon that originates in a specific location under natural conditions; "wild salmon stock" may include an enhanced or rehabilitated stock if its productivity is augmented by supplemental means, such as lake fertilization or rehabilitative stocking; "wild salmon stock" does not include an introduced stock, except that some introduced salmon stocks may come to be considered "wild" if the stock is self-sustaining for a long period of time;

Anonymous said...

Would the FACT that hundreds of thousands of unharvested stray hatchery produced pink salmon in PWS have consistently inundated wild stock streams, well into September and weeks past the historical peak run timing these wild stock systems have historically displayed, thereby superimposing their redds over the previously desposited wild stocks eggs; would that be evidence enough for you to believe that hatchery fish negatively affect wild stocks???? I could go on, but that one is serious enough as it is.

Tim Smith said...

That observation is enough to form the basis for developing hypotheses to be tested about the impacts on "wild stocks" but that alone it is not enough to justify a science based conclusion. The Hilborn article cited above is worth reading because it directly addresses that issue.

I didn't invent the scientific method, I'm just the messenger.

Anonymous said...

What wild stocks?

I've heard directly from a PWSAC Hatchery Manager that essentially all "wild" Pink runs in PWS have been genetically polluted by hatchery raised fish.

No wonder PWSAC resists systematic genetic testing of "wild" PWS salmon runs.

9:02 am also notes there is a well known physical displacement by hatchery fish over wild runs.

By our actions we are prioritizing the economic well being of our fishermen and communities over the genetic diversity of the wild runs.

Let's hope this does not come back to bite us hard in the ass some day.

Anonymous said...

To the extent that you seem unfamiliar with the extensive the literature on wild salmon/hatchery salmon interaction (throughout the Pacific Rim) and refuse to answer specific questions that been posed to you above (e.g., juvenile competition, carrying capacity, spawning impostion, you strike me as more of an apologist than a "messenger."

Anonymous said...

Hmmmm... isn't the contention that the pollock trawl salmon by-catch is decimating chum and Chinook stocks in AYK/Norton Sound is a classic faith-based argument?

Off topic, I know, but I found the faith-based discussion a bit amusing. Carry on.

Tim Smith said...

The genetic pollution caused by hatchery fish is theoretical and faith-based. What about the impact of selective commercial fishing removals on the genetic makeup of the wild stocks? Theoretically, that has the potential to have impacts equal to hatchery production. What about the impacts of fish straying from large "wild stocks" and hybridizing with smaller "wild stocks". As Hillborn says, until these hypotheses are tested and replicated using well designed studies and subjected to valid peer review, they are not a good basis for setting public policy.

Tim Smith said...

Do you believe there is general consensus in the scientific community about conclusions that can be legitimately drawn from the literature on "wild salmon/hatchery salmon interaction (throughout the Pacific Rim), juvenile competition, carrying capacity and spawning impostion"? If you do, you are the one unfamiliar with the issues.

Anonymous said...

Read this:

"An Evaluation of the Effects of
Conservation and Fishery
Enhancement Hatcheries on
Wild Populations of Salmon," Naish e.al (2008)

The Pacific Ocean is being used as the "labratory" for the ongoing wild/hatchery "experiment", the problem is that it is not a controlled experiment, and given all the confounding variables, your demand for scientific precision in this context is unreasonable.

What labratory experiments have been conducted with hatchery salmonids (PNW) certainly suggest the threats to wild populations from hatchery are not figments of paranoid minds.

Anonymous said...

I believe there is a general consensus among the scientific community that hatchery fish do in fact impact the wild salmon in a negative way. However, politicians, biased groups and beneficiaries muddy the waters with arguments to push their agenda. For example the two lobbyists PWSAC hires, there main job is to maintain legislative support in spite of all the negative research coming out on hatchery fish. Why does PWSAC need lobbyists?

Tim Smith said...

The earth is being used as a laboratory to determine how many hominids it can support. Hatchery production pales in comparison to things like crop monocultures, fossil fuel burning, chemical pollution and overexploitation of animal populations to the point of extinction.

Did you even read the article you cited? What it says is that the impacts of hatchery releases are largely unknown.

An Evaluation of the Effects of Conservation and Fishery Enhancement Hatcheries on Wild Populations of Salmon," Naish e.al (2008).

"Although the effects of production hatcheries on wild fish have not been explicitly modelled, many of the theoretical treatments examined above
provide insight on the outcomes of such programmes."

"None of the theoretical studies explicitly model the use of exogenous and domesticated stocks that have been typically used in production hatcheries. Some recent empirical evidence for the outcomes of releasing hatchery fish are summarized in Table 2.2, but few general trends can be inferred from the systems studied because release numbers, duration of releases and broodstock management have been poorly documented."

"Despite the fact that hatcheries have been operated over many decades, it is still unclear whether such activities can support conservation and fishery goals. A greater emphasis should be placed on experimental approaches to reforming hatchery practises by conducting coordinated research within the existing and extensive hatchery system using appropriate controls. This research should be supported by a climate
of active debate about the role of salmon hatcheries in today’s society."

Anonymous said...

At its core, the Alaska hatchery program is about political power and greed, subservient to political hacks. The aquaculture associations, most notably PWSAC, disdain oversight by the state but adore free money, and show their gratitude by disregarding the minimal regulations and requirements, all the time believing that not only are hatchery fish no threat to wild salmon, but, lordy lordy, actually benefit wild salmon.

Excerpt from ADF&G Internal Review Memorandum
November 8, 2006:

PWSAC has failed to comply with permitted stocking levels. PWSAC operates the Gulkana Hatchery to enhance sockeye salmon, and part of their program is lake stocking sockeye fry into three separate lakes on the Copper River drainage. They have exceeded the permitted stocking levels into Crosswind Lake and Summit Lake in multiple years.

PWSAC has failed to comply with minimum survival standards in the hatchery. The minimum standard for the survival rate from broodstock to egg take is 70% [5AAC 40.860.(c)], an exceedingly generous standard when applied to pink salmon. The Armin F. Koernig Hatchery, Cannery Creek Hatchery, and Wally Noerenberg Hatchery have not met this minimum standard in multiple years.

PWSAC has failed to comply with permit stipulations to provide data. PWSAC’s permit to operate the Gulkana Hatchery stipulates that nursery lake evaluations be performed on Crosswind Lake, Summit Lake, and Paxson Lake. The nursery lake evaluations are to include specific limnology sampling and the resultant data are to be provided to the department. PWSAC has withheld limnology data from the department on several occasions.

PWSAC has potentially broken the law by conducting cost recovery harvests outside of a designated Special Harvest Area without authority granted from the department via emergency order.

PWSAC has failed to comply with permit stipulations to fund a project to monitor for hatchery straying. The department has proceeded unilaterally with projects to monitor for hatchery straying in Prince William Sound salmon systems. The data show large-scale straying of PWSAC pink and chum salmon into many wild stock systems in Prince William Sound. A significant amount of straying is in direct opposition to the department genetics policy, the department’s policy for fish health and disease control (pathology), the department’s salmon escapement goal policy, and the department’s mission to protect and maintain the wild stock fish resources of the state.

Anonymous said...

Tim Smith, you argue like the spoiled child: everyone else is doing it!

You asked if there is a consensus about the threat ranched salmon pose to wild salmon; the paper demonstrates (duh!) such a consensus, which is why there isa also a consensus that more research is required. Do you think that if there weren't a consensus about the threat of hatchey salmon, that all these authors would be calling for more research?? So, who do you think argues against more research? Apparently people like you who have already determined that hatchery fish don't threaten wild fish, and who are threatened by those who actually want to find out more.

Tim Smith said...

You really need to read the article by Ray Hilborn. He is very critical of the approach to research you advocate. Conscientious scientists conduct research to determine truth, not to promote a preconceived political agenda like proving that hatcheries are bad.

It is highly unlikely that hatcheries are going to go away and the authors argue that research is needed to provide ways to minimize their negative impacts.

Anonymous said...

I introduced this issue of the impact of hatchery fish on wild stocks several posts ago and asked if anyone was concerned. It looks like it is a legitimate topic for discussion. What is of concern to me is that some who are apparently benefitting from the hatcheries, ie hatchery owner/ operators and some fishermen take such strident positions and do not seem willing to acknowledge even the possibility of adverse impact. Questions such as whether there is a food competition between the stocks, or a genetic corruption among them or whether in the case of PWS sockeyes, an accurate assessment of determining whether returns are wild or hatchery fish should perhaps be asked by everyone interested in the resource. Surely anyone who is truly interested in the sustainability of the wild stocks must question these issues. If for some reason the hatcheries are closed and in fact there has been a significant erosion of wild stocks, what will happen to returns in the future. Nothing is forever including hatcheries. for those who insist there is no worry, please identify or at least ask your self: are you benefitting?

Anonymous said...

Science does not determine "truth," only validity. Science begins with theories which are explanations of natural phenomenon; to test the validity of the theory, hypotheses are constructed and the results of testing the hypothesis determines the theory's validity. Science cannot determine the "truth,"
it can only identify and root out falsehoods. On the other hand, what is known to be false, can be known truly.

The tenets of ecology and genetics suggest that production hatcheries are likely to have adverse effects on wild salmon populations (not the converse). This is the theoretical context for presuming that hatcheries are detrimental to wild populations.

Scientific investigation of wild/hatchhery interactions are most likely to be perceived as a "politica agenda" by those who seek to protect the status quo, and who are in fact the ones with the (politica) power to prevent such scientific inquiry and further, brand the skeptics of the status quo as enemies of the state, which is how PWSAC thinks about ADF&G staff that have the audacity to question the "truths" to which PWSAC subscribes and on behalf of which it hires lobbyists to execute its poltical agenda.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like it was well worth the cost of the lobbyist

Anonymous said...

Do you think that PWSAC paid $75k to 2 lobbyists just to spread the truth of their programs? Couldn't you find someone cheaper than Dawson to relay the needs info? He pulled down $700k in lobby fees, one year.

I fished Area E for decades, PWSAC is one of the reasons I left there. Hatchery fish are not "wild" and that PWSAC is a self serving beast that Armin, Wally and the boys dreamed up to augment, not replace the wild stocks. Those old men are rolling in their graves. Frankensteins monster has escaped the castle and the villagers don't know how to control it without killing it.

Anonymous said...

The Legislature should require all those Southeast AAs to build and operate a small hatchery somewhere in the Western Alaska CDQ range, and face the pollock industry head on, too.

Not one dime for Hobson Creek wherre ADFandGee criminal employee(s) stole the equipment. What's up with that? Just because Mr. Smith prints his name honestly you can attack him personally. Wahts up with that? He's the only guy using his own money to benefit everyone else. Maybe he is a bit cuckoo. Who does that? Oh, a guy who loves salmon and his community enough to contribute not bleed the Legis and Alaskans. What's about that? You prove yourself to be crazy to even think of criticising him.

My people have been here a lot longer than most of you and we don't think Mr. Smith is wrong. We can read your whine bottle labels behind you glass walls from far away.

Anonymous said...

Western Alaska, mainly the Norton Sound area is in the midst of Political Salmon Wars and has been for over twenty years. Special interest groups have been holding back progress of any kind to help the salmon survive. It's been a dance for money. Money is the lure and in the meantime the poor salmon are losing out.

It's getting to the point where the 'wild salmon' runs are so week that perhaps they will have to dirty the waters with salmon from elsewhere. Money is the lure, propaganda placed fear in the people and now we're losing the salmon.

Anonymous said...

Mr. May 3 at 9;50 -- What is it with you guys? When the discourse doesn't go your way, you bullys revert to mean-spirited, irrational personal attacks and emotional pleas. Alaska is the last frontier . . . of scoundrels.

Anonymous said...

Alaska, where the "scroundrels" & silent stakeholders sacrifice the salmon in the sea.

Anonymous said...

"Alaska Salmon Industry Pulls out of Sustainable fisheries certification program.
Most of the unresolved issues dealt with the interactions of hatchery stock with other salmon."
Read about it in the May 6th issue of the Seattle Times. For those of us who catch wild fish, loss of this certification will cost us.

Anonymous said...

"One industry source said there was frustration with the rising complexity of the program, and concerns that some Alaska salmon might end up certified as sustainable while other harvests might not."
The article is from January but it is still very telling about Alaska's fishing industry. It is clearly about the money and not the safety of the wild fish. If all of the hatchery programs were helping to maintain a sustainable industry then why would they be worried that some activities may not cut the mustard?
I am not anti-hachery/salmon ranching but I would say that it is time to take a scientific and not an economic look at the hatchery program.

B Charron said...

Check out the May 10 article in SeafoodIntelligence.com (http://is.gd/ASMIvsMSCsalmon): I intereviewed ASMI's Seafood Technical Program Director, Randy Rice, and MSC Regional Director, Americas, Kerry Coughlin. It brings some insight as to why ASMI and a significant proportion of Alaska salmon processors want to pull out from the MSC program. There are also many quotes on the hatchery issue, and why ASMI & others took ‘exception’ at the MSC ‘conditions’. Covers the topic of marketing (ASMI believes its ‘Alaska Seafood’ brand was becoming “diluted” and competed upon by MSC’s etc... Would welcome also any insight into other reasons & opinions out there as to why some don’t see eye-to-eye with MSC & why do... You can also email me at editor@seafoodintelligence.com

Anonymous said...

The State of Alaska and it's various Depts which regulate and Oversee these programs are very helpful and necessary. it is not easy to get Grants and Monies....it takes plans and production models to demonstrate your Farming Operations....Be it Fin Fish or Shellfish. The State, in my humble opinion, is doing a great service to the people like myself who are earnestly trying to develop rearing and Marketing strategies which will be a sustainable addition to the GDP of Alaska. You may have questions about the funding as do I in some cases, but that being said.....we Seafood farmers are trying to create a whole new Economy Stimulus Plan by utilizing the Natural Resources and help from our State Government to accomplish this. We invest thousands of dollars of our own money in this endeavor along with tons of hours of labor.....I personally applaud the State of Alaska for it's vision of Alaska's future.....Sea Food from the cleanest waters on the planet.....T Sawyer Heaven's bay Zimovia Shellfish Wrangell AK