The Prince William Sound Science Center (PWSSC) was recently awarded a contract from the State of Alaska Department of Fish and Game to study the effects of straying by hatchery produced chum and pink salmon. The Sitka Sound Science Center has partnered with PWSSC to conduct the field research in 32 Southeast Alaska salmon streams.
The Alaska hatchery program was developed to supplement and enhance fisheries that otherwise depend on wild production. To avoid some of detrimental impacts associated with lower-48 hatchery programs, Alaska established policies and practices in the 1980s to ameliorate risks from the expanding ocean-ranching programs. Because of the value of hatchery production to industry’s harvest and its place in the international market, and the mandate that hatchery production be compatible with sustainable productivity of wild stocks, ADF&G and the PNP hatchery corporations have recognized the need for a research program addressing the concerns about escapement assessment and genetic and ecological interactions between hatchery and wild stocks. In July, 2011, ADF&G convened a Science Panel composed of current and retired scientists from ADF&G, University of Alaska, PNP Aquaculture Corporations, and the National Marine Fisheries Service. The panel has designed a research project to answer the following questions: What is the genetic stock structure of pink and chum salmon in Southeast Alaska and Prince William Sound (2) What is the extent and annual variability in straying of hatchery pink salmon in PWS and chum salmon in PWS and SE? (3) What is the impact on fitness (productivity) of wild pink and chum salmon stocks due to straying of hatchery pinks and chum salmon?
The SSSC began work on this project in August with the help of David Magnus, Keith Pahlke, Maggie Schoenfeld, Keith Andrews, and Eric Knudsen and will continue work through 2016.