Crystal Lake Hatchery reconstruction to move forward
Southern Southeast Regional Aquaculture Production Manager Bill Glass said plans are moving forward to continue production at Crystal Lake Hatchery even if it can’t immediately reconstruct the incubation facility destroyed by fire earlier this month.
“We don’t anticipate any delays or reductions in future productions beyond what we lost in the fire,” Glass said. “Plans are that the entire hatchery will continue on as is without any decreases in programs.”
The hatchery lost 550,000 Chinook eggs that were bound for Neets Bay, 200,000 Coho that would have been released in Blind Slough, 200,000 Chinook bound for release in City Creek and an additional 150,000 that would have been released in Anita Bay.
Crystal Lake will be able to release Kings this year in City Creek but not next season.
Though Glass doubts that a new facility will be erected by mid-August when hatchery staff take eggs, he said they can make do with a temporary structure.
“It can be as simple as a tent, a heavy-duty weather tent,” Glass said. “As long as you have water and some power to chill the water.”
Glass said salmon eggs are sensitive to handling during initial development but don’t require much oxygen. He said eggs need to exist in a dark environment that can be temperature controlled for around 50 days—fairly simple requirements that can be simulated in a temporary structure.
When eyes develop in the embryo the eggs are less sensitive to handling.
“You can actually bounce them off the floor or bounce them against the wall and you won’t harm them at all,” Glass said. “They can be out of water for 24 hours at a time.”
Glass said water flow and temperature most effect salmon fry when they hatch. Eggs need more space and water.
“We can buy ourselves about three months with a temporary situation,” Glass said.
He said Crystal Lake has enough fish on hand for full production but there won’t be a full release in Anita Bay.
“We want to reassure people that we are moving forward,” Glass said. “I’m very hopeful and very optimistic for the future of the facility. We’re probably going to wind up with better infrastructure than what we had.”
Glass said the timing of reconstruction largely depends on how badly the concrete foundation of the incubation facility was damaged. He expects the results from a damage report in the next several weeks.
Preliminary damage was estimated at around $3 million and the facility is covered under State insurance.