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Final approval to increase fish release to 20 million, received!

"SSRAA’s newly permitted Port Asumcion remote rearing site, located off the west coast of Prince of Wales Island on Baker Island, became fully operational in 2018.  Up to 8 million summer chum fry was transported from Burnett Inlet Hatchery to Port Asumcion and approximately 400,000 fall coho smolt was transported from Klawock River Hatchery to Port Asumcion in mid-April of 2018.  The first significant returns of adults back to Port Asumcion from these releases will occur in 2019 for fall coho and 2021 for summer chum.   These returns will provide both harvest opportunity for common property fishers as well as provide SSRAA an additional cost recovery site for summer chum outside of Neets Bay. Depending upon direction given to staff from the SSRAA Board of Directors and approval of permits from various state agencies, there is potential to increase both chum and coho production at this site in the near future. The net pens were fabricated locally in Ketchikan by Homestead Skiffs.  The individual net pen sections were delivered to Craig, loaded onto the F/V Lynda, and transported to Port Asumcion.  SSRAA staff, headed up by Ted Addington – Special Projects Manager, designed and deployed the anchor system and assembled the net pens on-site.  The "five hole" net pen array was completed in early October 2017.  The weather, which can be questionable and unpredictable that time of year, turned out be ideal and deployment of the anchor system and net pens went according to plan.  The net pens are now securely moored in place and we now just need to add fish to complete the start-up phase of this new rearing site A 24x50 foot feed/work barge which provides support for the rearing site was shipped to Ketchikan with construction of the barge and deck structure completed in 2017.  But as delays often occur with new construction projects, the delivery of the new barge was a few months late arriving in Ketchikan.  This delay was due to the fall hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico which forced the shut-down of several manufacturing plants that produce HDPE plastic needed for the barge fabrication.  The barge sections finally arrived in Ketchikan near the end of December and SSRAA’s Special Projects staff began barge construction shortly thereafter. The barge was towed from Ketchikan to Port Asumcion in 2018.  After the rearing season was completed and all smolt released, the net pen array remained moored in place at Port Asumcion for the remainder of the year. The barge is towed to Craig for off-season storage. Operational oversight of this project is the responsibility of JR Parsley who also currently manages SSRRAA’s Neck Lake harvest and rearing sites on Prince of Wales.  JR has many years of fish culture and management experience and is an excellent fit for overseeing this new production during start-up and into the future. The day-to-day rearing operations at port Asumcion are conducted by a contract vessel and crew.  This is SSRAA’s first experience in contracting out rearing operations as opposed to staffing with SSRAA employees who live on camp barges.  This strategy is currently employed by both DIPAC and NSRAA at several of their smaller remote sites with good results. To accommodate the summer chum production for this new site, the rearing program is supported through the expansion of SSRAA’s Burnett Inlet Hatchery and future expansion of the Port Saint Nicholas facility.  Both facilities will provide eggs and/or fry to meet the production goals of this program.  Coho smolt for the Port Asumcion releases are provided from SSRAA’s Klawock River hatchery.

Submitted by David Landis, SSRAA GM

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