Editor’s note: This is part three in a series of stories examining the Cook Inlet Aquaculture Association. Part one was on a disease outbreak at Trail Lakes Hatchery. Part two looked at the history of CIAA. This week’s story examines the myriad challenges confronting the organization. Past stories can be read on the Redoubt Reporter’s website, http://www.redoubtreporter.wordpress.com.
By Jenny Neyman
Given the conditions within which the Cook Inlet Aquaculture Association operates, it’s small wonder the organization has found itself on the brink of a financial crisis, with a $900,000 deficit, increasing loan payments looming on the horizon, cost-recovery fisheries that have not produced revenue as expected and a lack of capital to start up new projects that might be successful.
The very nature of how the association functions involves a mixture of factors outside its control that create a recipe for financial instability, at best, and, at worst, a level of surprise that the whole thing hasn’t already gone belly up — revenues based largely on variable fish prices and the strength of salmon runs, being subject to state and federal authority that limits CIAA’s scope of operations, and the dispassionate and sometimes disastrous effects science and biology can have on fish production.
Higher authority: Board of Fish, Mother Nature
Fish may be slippery. The rules that govern their hatching, rearing, releasing and harvesting are not. CIAA is subject to Alaska Department of Fish and Game and Board of Fish authority over its operations. It must obtain permits and approval for all major aspects of its operations — what stocks it can take eggs from, where and when it can release salmon fry and smolt, and how many it can release. Continue reading