By Jenny Neyman
If Trail Lakes Hatchery in Moose Pass were a motel, the sign out front would be proclaiming vacancies. Though the reason why it’s so empty would probably strike prospective lodgers as being a little too like Alfred Hitchcock’s Bates Motel, since the last batch of fish staying there met an untimely demise.
An outbreak of infectious hematopoietic necrosis virus over the summer led to a loss of 1.9 million sockeye salmon fry — the entire stock being reared for release into Resurrection Bay outside Seward, and another 250,000 sockeye fry being reared for release in Tutka Bay in Lower Cook Inlet.
IHN isn’t a new phenomenon, and this outbreak isn’t the worst the hatchery has seen, but it comes at a particularly bad time for the Cook Inlet Aquaculture Association, which operates the state-owned hatchery through contract with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. At a recent meeting, the CIAA board of directors voted to keep the hatchery open for the time being, but just like the fry, the hatchery itself may soon be facing execution.
“I think everyone is going to wait and see before they put the kibosh on the program. We have basically a year and three-quarters to ponder what we’re going to do, if the program’s going to go forward and in what form,” said Tom Prochazka, Trail Lakes Hatchery manager. Continue reading