Hatchery FAQ’s

What are aquaculture corporations (hatcheries)?

Hatcheries are private nonprofit and/or state-owned aquaculture associations established to produce hatchery-born, ocean-raised wild salmon for the commercial, sport, personal use, and subsistence fisheries in Alaska. Their visions are to ensure long-term sustainability of Alaska’s fish resources.

Where are Alaska’s hatcheries located?

Hatcheries are located in 4 major regions of Alaska: Prince William Sound, Southeast, Kodiak and Cook Inlet. ADF&G’s 2017 Alaska Salmon Fisheries Enhancement Annual Report found these returns by region:  

  • Prince William: 35,000,000, 69%

  • Southeast: 12,000,000, 24%

  • Kodiak: 3,000,000, 6%

  • Cook Inlet: 815,000, 1%

Are hatchery pink salmon affecting wild pink salmon in Southcentral Alaska?

In 2015, PWS set a record for the highest wild pink salmon return. The 2nd highest return occured in 2013, an the 5th largest wild salmon return was in 2017.  While hatchery pink salmon may have some effect on wild pink salmon, there is no scientific basis to suggest this impact is negative.

Why do hatcheries primarily produce pink salmon?

Pink salmon are economically efficient. They have a year-long life cycle and are the primary salmon export from the State of Alaska. They result in a $92 million annual economic output, according to ADF&G. Hatcheries primarily produce pink and chum salmon because both are released into salt water soon after hatching, which is more economical than rearing species that require being released in freshwater.

What species of salmon do hatcheries produce, and what economic value does each species add to the overall economic value?

ADF&G’s 2017 Alaska Salmon Fisheries Enhancement Annual Report found the value of commercial hatchery harvest to be $162 million, with the following breakdown by species:  

  • Chum: $92 million, 57%

  • Pink: $45 million, 28%

  • Sockeye: $16 million, 10%

  • Coho: $5 million, 3%

  • Chinook (King): $3 million, 2%

Why do Alaskans need hatcheries?

Hatcheries simply give an egg a higher survival rate than would normally be the case. In the wild, approximately 10% of fry survive, compare to 90% of those in hatcheries. Hatcheries provide a controlled environment until the fry are released and face the same elements as naturally-spawned salmon. The higher survival rate of hatchery fry helps supplement natural variation in salmon runs if certain elements depleted wild fry.

What are the biggest benefits of hatcheries?

  • Increase in salmon abundance

  • Produce a healthy and safe food that feeds the world

  • Supports and stabilizes commercial, sport, personal use, and subsistence fisheries

What economic impacts do hatcheries have on Alaska?

In brief,

  • VFDA salmon caught in sport fisheries resulted in $6.6 million in annual economic output from 2008-2012.1 VFDA accounts for an estimated 75% of all coho and over 90% of all pink salmon caught in the Valdez arm.1

  • Hatcheries create thousands of seasonal jobs for crewmembers and processors. They generate millions of pink, chum, coho, sockeye, and Chinook salmon.

  • Close to half (48%) of commercial fish caught in Alaska are hatchery-released salmon.

  • Hatcheries have the lowest default rate of any loan in the State of Alaska, and pay interest on state loans. Collectively, hatcheries have contributed millions in interest income to the state of Alaska.

  • Hatchery pinks have provided the commercial fishing industry with the volume and economies of scale needed to fulfill demand.

How are hatcheries funded?

Alaska statutes only allow aquaculture associations to be nonprofit status. They are only allowed to recover operating and capital expenses, costs for research and development, and expansion of the production system. Our management of hatcheries serves as an example of other states, primarily Washington and Oregon, of a non-profit, sustainable business model,

Where are hatcheries located outside of Alaska?

The world’s largest hatchery program is in Japan, while Russia and Alaska have the second largest programs. Russia boasts production of 40% of global wild salmon, while Japan remains the largest salmon supplier to East Asia and consumer. Hatchery systems are also in place in Washington, Oregon, and many other Pacific and Atlantic U.S. states.