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Southern Southeast Regional Aquaculture Association

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The Southern Southeast Regional Aquaculture Association or SSRAA for short, is a non-profit company located out of Alaska. Their mission is "to enhance and rehabilitate salmon production in southern Southeast Alaska to the optimum social and economic benefit of salmon users". They have a total of four salmon hatcheries that grow salmon to age and then release then into the wild.

Contents

History

In the early 1970s Alaska’s commercial salmon industry was at a point of collapse because of a decline in abundance of salmon. The fishing industry worked in part with the state of Alaska to draft legislation that would allow the formation of Regional Aquaculture Associations. The associations would support their infrastructure by receiving payments from fisherman that caught and harvested fish in the association's fishing districts. The Southern Southeast Regional Aquaculture Association was one of five associations incorporated in 1976. The SSRAA first began operations in 1978.

Hatcheries

The SSRAA operates four hatcheries in Alaska. They currently operate hatcheries at Whitman Lake, Neets Bay, Burnett Inlet, and Crystal Lake. Each location has a salmon enhancement program, which are designed to supplement the wild salmon population. The goal of the SSRAA is not to replace the fish, but to increase the amount of wild fish. The SSRAA currently include all species of pacific salmon apart from the pink salmon. Their primary producer is the Chum salmon, of which they release about 150 million into the wild annually.

Whitman Lake

Whitman Lake was the first facility of the SSRAA, and has been operational since 1978. The hatchery is located in the George Inlet, which is approximately fifteen kilometers to the south of the city of Ketchikan, Alaska. Whitman Lake produces chinook, coho, and chum salmon. Whitman Lake is a critical site for the SSRAA because they are a big supplier of salmon eggs for other hatcheries, with over 40 million chum salmon eggs passing through Whitman Lake annually. The headquarters for SSRAA maintenance are located at the site. Whitman handles all future projects of the SSRAA from planning to the fabrication of equipment.

Neets Bay

Neets Bay started as a place to serve as a release point for Whitman Lake. In the early 1980s a hatchery was built in Neets Bay. The two hatcheries at Whitman and Neets work together to utilize all the available space and water. Neets Hatchery is located at the head of Neets Bay which is approximately 40 miles away from Ketchikan, Alaska. The hatchery is not accessible by road, and must be reached either by air or by sea. From around late July to early September, a flight charter company called ProMech flies around 300 to 400 tourists to Neets Bay each day. The tourists visit to observe the black bears that lounge around a small creek behind the hatchery.

Burnett Inlet

The facility at Burnett Inlet was first constructed by Alaska Aquaculture Company. The original goal of the facility was to exclusively produce chum salmon. Alaska aquaculture eventually went into bankruptcy in the mid 1990s. The state of Alaska offered the facility at Burnett to the SSRAA. In 1995 the SSRAA took over operations at Burnett.

Crystal Lake

Crystal lake is operated by the SSRAA in conjunction with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. The hatchery at Crystal Lake is one of the oldest operating hatcheries since it began operations in 1973 as an ADF&G facility. Crystal lake is about eighteen miles to the south of Petersburg. The hatchery got its name from Crystal Lake which is the power source for Petersburg’s hydroelectric power plant.

Production

The state of Alaska has reported that the SSRAA has had a significant economic impact on fishing industry of Southeast Alaska. Between 2001 and 2007, 81.3 million pounds of SSRAA-produced salmon was harvested. The fish released by the SSRAA had also made an impact on the sportfishing industry. Without the fish that are released into the wild by the SSRAA, there would most likely be much less sportfishing operations. In 2007 alone, the SSRAA created 420 jobs and $11.5 million in labor income. The bulk of these jobs and labor income occur in Ketchikan, but they also occur in other parts of Southeast Alaska.

References

Southern Southeast Regional Aquaculture Association Wikipedia


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