While COVID has been on the forefront of priorities for the municipality, we believe there is a long-term visitor industry issue that has received no attention. While we have had few tourists, if the forecast is accurate and even if not, the soon to return pressure to the waters will not be sustainable. Canadians, cruise visitors and locals are all hungry for the opportunity to catch salmon.
While recently charter fishing has been almost absent, so have been the salmon. The situation and decline in king salmon have created a void. Chinook salmon are and will continue to be a negative opportunity for Skagway and the visitor industry.
With the recent creation of the assistant manager, we believe some time should be utilized to create and pursue a silver salmon hatchery program. The reasons for a healthy and increased coho salmon run are many. First, they are a native species to the Taiya and Skagway rivers. Secondly, they are not politically targeted or regulated. Third, they are a quality fish for all (commercial and sport), in fresh and saltwater. Also, a hatchery program should benefit many tourism visitors and excursions, while getting support from many businesses and organizations. Additionally, a healthy stock would create subsistence and extra business opportunities.
An adequately sized facility, sited in the right location, could be run on a budget of sales tax, tours and grants. Grant help could potentially be provided by the Skagway Traditional Council, Skagway Development Corporation, Alaska Department of Fish & Game and the commercial fishing industry. As the cruise industry grows, they will continue to look for additional tours. Support for this project will benefit visitors, business and locals alike.
Please consider this request for the community’s positive development. This letter is written on behalf of the currently dormant hatchery committee, who would be happy to get back to work.