Senator Lisa Murkowski supports the Kodiak Regional Aquaculture Association’s push for enriching nutrients in Karluk Lake.

Murkowski wrote a letter to Alaska’s Fish and Wildlife Service saying, “Approval of the application will help move this fishery restoration project another step closer toward achieving the ultimate goal of bringing adult sockeye salmon back into the Karluk Lake system.”

On the southwestern side of Kodiak Island, Karluk Lake runs in the past few years have been low due to insufficient nutrients, according to KRAA Executive Director Tina Fairbanks.

The proposal asks to add phosphorus and nitrogen to the lake for five to eight years, which would aid in the growth of zooplankton that young salmon feed on.

Murkowski’s letter was written to the director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and was included in the agenda packet for the upcoming Kodiak Fisheries Work Group meeting, where Fairbanks will give an update on the Karluk Lake proposal.

In the letter, Murkowski said, “Restoration of Karluk productivity is critically important as it will support the cultural, ecological and economic values of the region.”

Murkowski’s letter added that she is concerned for set-netters on the west side of the island.

“These families have operated their sites for generations, are wholly dependent on the Karluk’s sockeye run, and have been struggling financially since 2008.”

“In the past, KRAA and Fish and Game did add nutrients to Karluk Lake,” Fairbanks said, “So that’s what KRAA seeks to do this time around.”

The nutrients were added between 1986 and 1990. Since then, Fairbanks said there have been changes to refuges and the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge conservation plan, but the changes still allow lake enrichment as a possible rehabilitation technique. Karluk Lake is located partially within the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge.

The Karluk Lake proposal is currently going through an environmental assessment by the Fish and Wildlife Service, required for all proposals that will affect a national wildlife refuge.

Calls to the Fish and Wildlife Service were not immediately returned.

Contact Julie Herrmann at jherrmann@kodiakdailymirror.com.

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