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Retailer likely to get trout from hatchery for display

Posted: October 12, 2013 - 6:08pm  |  Updated: October 12, 2013 - 6:44pm

An internet campaign regarding a proposal to store live Kenai River trout in an Anchorage fish tank has largely come to an end after the Alaska Department of Fish and Game said the trout would likely come from an Anchorage hatchery.

An Oct. 9 post on the AlaskaGuideList blog said that Cabela’s had a permit to take rainbow trout from the Kenai River for a fish tank at its new store. Cabela’s, a Nebraska-based outdoor retailer, plans to open a South Anchorage store in 2014.

October 11, the blog was updated, and the author said that Cabela’s had “unofficially” informed Fish and Game that they would not harvest the fish from the Kenai.

Cabela’s did not respond to a phone call looking for comment on the decision not to take fish from the Kenai, but Fish and Game’s Ryan Ragan said the department was willing to work with the company to get them hatchery trout.

The company applied for, and received, a Fish Resource Permit from Fish and Game that allows the company to harvest fish from the Kenai River or get them from the William Jack Hernandez Hatchery, in Anchorage.

A permit is required for any use of fish, or other aquatic resources, that is not covered in regulation. To get one, an applicant typically files online. Then the permit goes through a review process within the department. Several people review the draft permit, said FRP coordinator Scott Ayers, and a decision is typically made within 30 days.

In this case, the permit allows Cabela’s to catch up to 30 trout and keep them, live, in an aquarium rather than killing them at the river.

Before the fish are caught in the Kenai, permission is required from the area management biologist, and regular sportfishing regulations, including size restrictions and bag limits, would still apply, although at this point it is more likely that the fish will come from the hatchery.

The permit is good through 2013, and the company has not yet applied for a 2014 permit, Ayers said. An FRP is required to hold the fish after they are caught, so a new one will be required if Alaska trout are to live in the aquarium at Cabela’s next year. The new application must include a report on the fish taken so far.

Ayers said the Division of Sport Fish gets about 300 requests for FRPs each year, and approximately 50 of them are for keeping wild fish in aquariums.

Generally, those are issued for scientific or educational purposes. Many are issued to universities and educational institutions, Ayers said.

Other sorts of projects also require FRPs, such as research, or if culvert is being placed to improve fish passage, and fish are handled in the process, Ayers said.

The Cabela’s permit is issued as on an educational basis.

The retailer plans to have a display on native fish and invasive species in Alaska, as well as access to sport fish regulation books and other information on Alaska’s fish.

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