State considers how to use millions in salmon funds

Posted: Sunday, April 13, 2003

JUNEAU (AP) -- The state is trying to determine how to use millions of dollars earmarked to help Southeast's salmon industry.

About $13 million remains in the state's Southeast Sustainable Salmon Fund from a $60 million, three-year grant from the federal government. The money will be divided among four categories: infrastructure, marketing, fish stock enhancement and education, said Ken Alper, a planner with the state Department of Fish and Game.

The money came from the federal Pacific Coast Salmon Recovery Fund and was disbursed over three years to Alaska, Washington, Oregon, California and the Columbia River Tribes.

The state has contracted with the Juneau-based research firm the McDowell Group to determine what the money should be spent on in the infrastructure category. McDowell Group analysts have held public meetings in Ketchikan, Petersburg, Sitka and Juneau to hear suggestions on how to use the money.

Analyst Scott Miller said suggestions include more cold-storage facilities, ice machines and custom processing.

Custom processing would entail providing a facility where smaller producers, even individual fishermen, could do their own processing and tailor their products to niche markets, Miller said.

Ken Duckett, executive director of the United Southeast Alaska Gilnetters Association, said local cold-storage facilities would give fishermen a place to freeze their fish for an extended period of time.

Most of the salmon fund's investment has been in hatchery projects in Southeast Alaska, Alper said. He said staff reviews are being conducted to determine what portion of the $13 million should go to marketing, enhancement and education as well.

The McDowell Group is expected to complete its study in June.

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