Federal grant helps boost inlet fisheries

Posted: Tuesday, February 19, 2002

Fisheries enhancement programs in Cook Inlet are getting a boost, thanks to the federal government.

Last month the Cook Inlet Aquaculture Association was notified that it had been awarded a $1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service to help further CIAA's goal of supporting area fisheries.

Funds secured through this grant will be used for several of CIAA's fisheries enhancement projects.

Gary Fandrei, executive director of CIAA, said he was pleased with the support the organization has received.

"This is a real positive step toward providing long-term assistance to Cook Inlet fisheries," said Fandrei.

Fandrei said that the money would be earmarked for improvements on existing CIAA projects, as well as debt reduction.

"If we can pay down our debt, we have a stronger chance of improving programs in the future," he said.

Fandrei said that CIAA has several projects in need of maintenance and improvement, and that most of the money would go towards existing facilities.

"The Trail Lakes hatchery is over 20 years old," he said, noting that the facility, located near Moose Pass, is in need of repair and maintenance work.

Money from this grant will also go toward funding a four-year smolt release program in Resurrection Bay, an evaluation study on Big Lake and design plans for new visitor facilities at Bear and Trail lakes.

Additionally, CIAA has been notified that funding may be forthcoming for CIAA's proposed "Evaluation of the Cook Inlet Regional Salmon Enhancement Plan 1981-2000" study. CIAA has been notified that this grant proposal has been recommended for funding by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The grant must still be approved by several governmental agencies, but finalization of the decision should come within the next two months, according to Fandrei.

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