Fearful that Cook Inlet is increasingly coming under the influence of the big, pink-salmon ranch that is Alaska’s Prince William Sound, nine outdoor groups have banded together to ask the Alaska Board of Fisheries to put the brakes on a plan to expand a Valdez hatchery.
The hatchery not far from the oil terminal for the TransAlaska Pipeline System is part of one of North America’s most successful salmon grow operations. Since the late 1970s, hatcheries have reshaped the ecosystem of the Sound from one that produced an average 3.3 million pinks per year to one that now pumps out more than 30 million salmon in an average year.
“With PWS hatcheries providing a solid supply of pink salmon, processing companies with operations around the state have partnered with companies around the world to create new products,” McDowell Group noted in a 2010 report prepared for the Prince William Sound Aquaculture Association. “Pink salmon is now a nutritious ingredient in a wide range of food products, compared to 10 years ago.