McKernan Hatchery could be operated privately

The McKernan Hatchery on Weaver Creek, a tributary of the Skokomish River, is considered an important operation by commercial chum salmon fishers and by steelhead anglers, who benefit from the fish produced there.

It is not one of the Hood Canal hatcheries we’ve often talked about that are focused on rebuilding wild salmon runs. Still, the hatchery is being operated to minimize impacts on wild salmon, as outlined in the Hatchery and Genetic Management Plan (PDF 188 kb).

Because of state budget cutbacks, McKernan was one of the salmon- and trout-rearing facilities placed on the chopping block earlier this year by the Legislature. See the story I wrote for today’s Kitsap Sun.

State Rep. Fred Finn, D-Olympia, and other legislators believe that private organizations should be given the opportunity to operate the hatchery. Perhaps revenues from the sale of eggs and salmon returning to the hatchery could help to keep the operation going, he said in a news release.

Hood Canal Salmon Enhancement Group, which got its start in salmon production, is one group taking a close look at the financial end of the operation.

In the next couple of months, we’ll see how things pan out under the guidance of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. Otherwise, the hatchery is scheduled for closure at the end of June.

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