Karluk Lake Fertilization Funded


Brianna Gibbs/KMXT

Karluk Lake has a long and rich history of sockeye salmon production for Kodiak Island. The lake was the source of the first commercial sockeye fishery on the island and Kodiak’s first fish processors were built near there. The fishery bottomed out in the 1970s and again recently. But thanks to recent state funding, Karluk Lake and two other sockeye systems on the island will have a chance to bounce back after years of dwindling sockeye populations.

The Kodiak Regional Aquaculture Association will receive $720,000 from the state capital budget to begin nutrient enrichment projects in Karluk, Frazer and Spiridon Lakes. Production and operations manager for the association, Gary Byrne, explains just what that means.

(Nutrient Enrichment 1: :23 sec "What we are proposing … other fish in the lakes.")

This bottom-up approach to restoring productivity in the lakes isn’t a new idea. It was first discussed when the Karluk fisheries began to significantly decline in the 1950s.

(Nutrient Enrichment 2: :17 sec "They didn’t want to go into … stimulate fish growth.")

The success there was picked up by Canadian fisheries and used heavily in management throughout British Columbia. Then, in 1986, it was finally implemented in Karluk Lake and helped restore the once productive fishery. Byrne said the collapse in recent years was a result of over escapement of salmon into the system.

He said that with better escapement plans in place, the runs at Karluk and other lakes should be able to sustain themselves once the initial nutrients are added.

(Nutrient Enrichment 3: :33 sec "You would get … numbers of them into the system.")

Byrne said he hopes to begin the project for all three lakes in May 2012. He said the fertilizer will be misted over the lake using a crop dusting plane. The lakes will then be carefully monitored and the benefits of the system should be seen within four or five years, or the lifespan of a sockeye salmon.

The aquaculture association also received state funding for maintenance and upgrades to the Kitoi Bay and Pillar Creek Hatcheries. Combined, that money amounted to more than $2 million.


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