Tutka Bay net pens

Aaron Bolton, KBBI News

The Alaska Department of Natural Resources denied a hatchery nonprofit’s request last week to release millions of hatchery pink salmon in a popular area of Kachemak Bay State Park.

Cook Inlet Aquaculture Association asked DNR back in early January to renew its three-year permit for the release of up to 80 million pinks at the head of Tutka Bay, an area of Kachemak Bay State Park known for its recreational opportunities.

Last week, the Alaska Department of Natural Resources announced some key appointments. Kenai Peninsula sportfishing advocate Ricky Gease will serve as director of state parks.

That’s worrying some commercial fishermen and hatchery proponents because Gease, a known hatchery critic, could have influence over Cook Inlet Aquaculture’s operations in Kachemak Bay State Park.

Aaron Bolton, KBBI News

About a month ago, former Alaska Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Andy Mack abruptly signed off on a draft management plan for Kachemak Bay State Park. After Mack left the job and a new governor was sworn in, DNR rescinded the plan. It said it will release the next version of the plan for public comment before it’s officially adopted.

DNR’s handling of the process under a new governor could revive a long-running debate over a commercial salmon hatchery’s operations in the park.

Cook Inlet Aquaculture Association

After the Alaska Department of Natural Resources ordered the Cook Inlet Aquaculture Association to move its Tutka Bay release site either to the location it specified in its permit or back to its Tutka Bay Lagoon hatchery, mother nature seemed to make the decision for the hatchery association.

.

Cook Inlet Aquaculture Executive Director Gary Fandrei said strong winds blew the pens about three miles west of where they were initially anchored. 

Courtesy of the Alaska Department of Natural Resources

A contentious release site for hatchery pink salmon near Homer is being forced to move after it was put in the wrong place. Cook Inlet Aquaculture Association installed two net pens in late April near the head of Tutka Bay as part of its plan to move a portion of its nearby Tutka Bay Lagoon operation.