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Alaska Department of Fish and Game


Hatcheries and Stocking
Frequently Asked Questions

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How can I get fish stocked into my pond?

Check the Statewide Stocking Plan for the Lake Stocking Policy. Federal and state regulations and policies stipulate the water must have no inlet or outlet stream, no resident fish, there must be fish available, and guaranteed free public access, among other things. Contact your local ADF&G office to find out if your pond would qualify.

In other states, don't stocked fish negatively impact wild fish? Why doesn't that happen in Alaska?

One of the goals of the Division of Sport Fish is to conserve naturally reproducing populations of fish. All hatchery operations in the state must comply with strict regulations and procedures designed to meet this goal, so that wild fish and hatchery fish do not compete to their mutual detriment for the same resources.

Are tours available, and when is a good time to go?

Elmendorf Hatchery provides tours for school and community groups in the summer months, and salmon viewing in fall and spring. Tours average about 45 minutes, and the hatchery requests at least one week's notice. Limited times are available for individual tours. Call the hatchery at (907) 274-0065.

Why can't the hatcheries grow walleye/perch/other game fish?

Alaskan waters can only be stocked with native Alaskan fish. Introductions of non-local fish such as northern pike into south central have caused significant damage to wild stocks of salmon and trout.

What job/volunteer/internship opportunities are there at the hatcheries?

All state jobs are posted on-line at Workplace Alaska. To arrange an internship, contact your school counseling office. Volunteers should contact the hatchery directly.

What are triploid fish?

Triploid fish have cells with three sets of chromosomes. Normally fish, like humans, are diploid with only two sets of chromosomes.

Why does ADF&G stock triploid fish?

Because triploids are sterile, stocking triploid fish protects the genetic integrity of wild fish populations and prevents the establishment of new breeding populations. If stocking results in adverse effects on wild fish, such as competition for resources or predation, the stocking can be suspended and the adverse effects will disappear when the stocked fish die out. Because of the potential risks to wild fish populations of stocking hatchery fish, if we did not have sterile fish, we would not be allowed to stock in many sites.

Are triploid fish safe to eat?

Yes. Triploid fish have been produced for sport fishing and commercial use for over 20 years. Local grocers sell triploid Atlantic salmon and rainbow trout. Triploid production is common not only with fish, but also in many other foods found in our grocery stores. Examples of common triploid food items include all bananas and seedless watermelons.

Do triploid fish look or taste different than diploid fish?

No. Except for the lack of eggs in the females and the delayed development of testes in the males, triploid and diploid fish look and taste the same.

Is a triploid fish a genetically modified organism (GMO)?

No. GMOs are organisms whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering techniques that involve inserting DNA from other organisms. Triploids do not have any inserted DNA from other sources; they simply have a third set of chromosomes (two sets from one parent and one set from the other parent).

How do fish become triploid?

Fish culturists apply a heat or pressure shock to fertilized fish eggs. This shock interrupts cell division during early egg development and causes the cells to retain a third set of chromosomes. The third set of chromosomes renders the fish sterile. Triploid fish do rarely occur in nature.

Are triploid fish exposed to additional chemicals at the hatchery?

No. Triploid fish are exposed to the same environment as all other hatchery fish.

Are triploid fish stocked in other states?

Yes. Many agencies in the lower 48 stock triploid fish for the same conservation reasons we do.

Where are triploid fish stocked?

ADF&G originally stocked triploid fish into non-landlocked release sites but has recently expanded the triploid fish stocking program to include landlocked lakes previously stocked with diploid fish.

Why discontinue stocking diploid fish into landlocked lakes?

People illegally transfer stocked fish to other locations. Illegally transferred diploid fish could put the genetic integrity of native fish populations at risk and/or establish new populations that might compete for food and rearing habitat or prey on wild fish.

Does ADF&G release triploid smolt?

No. ADF&G regulates smolt stockings (fish that migrate to sea and return as adults for harvest) so that competition and genetic interaction with wild stocks are not concerns. If ADF&G determines stocked smolt are impacting wild fish populations, they will discontinue the stocking project until the conflict is resolved.

Which species of fish are stocked as triploids?

ADF&G began stocking all-female triploid rainbow trout in 1991, mixed-sex triploid Arctic char and Arctic graying in 2006, and mixed-sex triploid coho salmon in 2007. ADF&G plans to stock mixed-sex triploid Chinook salmon into lakes as well.

Why are some populations all female while others are mixed sex?

The methods used to produce triploids results in different levels of triploidy rates depending on the species. For rainbow trout, triploidy rates are typically between 98% and 99%, whereas the triploidy rates for Arctic char, Arctic grayling, and coho salmon approach 100%. To insure that the few diploids that remain in the rainbow trout do not establish new populations, we also make sure that the rainbow trout are all female.

How do populations of fish become all female?

Fish culturists feed a few hundred female rainbow trout testosterone-treated feed (less than 15 milligrams of hormone is used per year) during the first 2-3 months of rearing. These fish develop testes instead of ovaries, but because they are genetically female their sperm cells contain only X chromosomes. We call these fish XX males. We use the sperm from these XX males to fertilize eggs which makes the offspring all female. All XX males are killed during spawning and buried in a sanitary landfill.

Are hormone-treated fish released to lakes or streams?

No. ADF&G never releases hormone-treated fish.

Are testosterone levels in all-female triploid rainbow trout higher than testosterone levels in mixed-sex diploid rainbow trout?

No. In November 2008, ADF&G submitted blood plasma and tissue samples from two-year-old mixed sex diploid rainbow trout and all-female triploid rainbow trout to the Center for Reproductive Biology at Washington State University for analysis. The reported testosterone levels in blood serum and tissue of all-female triploid rainbow trout were not higher than testosterone levels in blood serum and tissue samples of mixed-sex diploid rainbow trout.

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