Alaska hatchery rebuilds with new technology

Millions of tiny baby King salmon are growing at Petersburg’s hatchery in brand new equipment. After the Crystal Lake Hatchery’s incubators and generator shed were destroyed in a fire in March of 2014 the facility was rebuilt with new technology. It’s helping to fine tune the fish rearing process.

The fire raged through the early morning hours on March 3. Located 18 miles south of Petersburg, the facility was just too far away for responders to stop the flames. The hatchery’s main incubation area burned. Over a million King eggs were lost.

Now, over a year later, a new facility stands in its place.

Loren Thompson is the manager at the Crystal Lake Hatchery. He’s been working here for 15 years for the Southern Southeast Regional Aquaculture Association or SSRAA. The association operates the facility but the state owns it.

The old wall heater was suspected as the source of the fire. But it wasn’t just the wall heater that was dated. Thompson shows me into the main building where we are met with the buzz of new technology. They couldn’t replace the equipment with the same 30-year-old machinery because it’s not made anymore. But it could be a blessing in disguise.

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About the author

Jessica Hathaway

Jessica Hathaway is the editor in chief of National Fisherman. She has been covering the fishing industry for 13 years, serves on the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute’s Communications Committee and is a National Fisheries Conservation Center board member.

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