Klawock River Hatchery

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Klawock River Hatchery was built in 1977-1978 by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game as a Fisheries Rehabilitation and Enhancement Division (FRED) facility. Chum salmon and steelhead were first cultured in the late 1970’s.

Due to the IHN virus inherent to native sockeye in the Klawock Lake system, chum salmon production ceased and coho production started in 1980. Steelhead continued to be produced also. Klawock Hatchery continued production until 1993 when the FRED division dissolved and merged with the Commercial Fisheries Division.

The cities of Klawock and Craig operated the facility while the Prince of Wales Hatchery Association (POWHA) was being formed. In 1996 POWHA assumed operations with a permitted capacity of 5 million coho eggs, 5 million sockeye eggs and 50,000 steelhead eggs. Steelhead production ceased in 2002 and sockeye ended in 2005.  Klawock Hatchery is now a coho facility with an annual production goal of 5 million eggs which normally produces 4.5 million smolt for release.

POWHA struggled over the years to achieve success and the possibility of closing the doors loomed began to appear likely by 2010. In 2011 the POWHA Board of Directors, in consultation with experts from the State and private industry, instituted sweeping reforms to the hatchery program and staff and in 2013 the largest return in hatchery history occurred. Unfortunately the revenue was not enough to sustain operations and the POWHA board approached SSRAA for financial help and asked SSRAA to take over the hatchery.

Between 2013 and 2016 POWHA continued to successfully operate the Klawock Hatchery producing strong returns in 2014, 2015 and 2016, primarily benefitting the troll fleet. At the October 2015 SSRAA board meeting the SSRAA board voted to assume ownership of the Klawock Hatchery. On July 1, 2016 the Klawock River Hatchery was officially re-permitted under SSRAA and continues to be a significant contributor to the Southeast troll fleet which harvests approximately 60% of returning adults annually.  The remaining fish head up the river creating one of the most prolific sport-fishing opportunities in Alaska.  Adult fish that reach the hatchery site, approximately 2 miles up the river, are either harvested by the hatchery as cost recovery, held as broodstock for continued hatchery production or allowed into the lake for natural production.

SSRAA Drone Video – Klawock Lake (Video Credit: Allen Smith)