(Released: July 11, 2023)

CONTACT: Donald Arthur
Assistant Area Management Biologist
(907) 267-2225

Illegally Dumped Fish Waste Can Draw Bears, Fines for Violators

(Anchorage) - As salmon surge into Southcentral fisheries, anglers and dipnetters are reminded to properly dispose of fish waste. Discarding fish waste on public, private property or along roads, pull-offs and trails can attract bears into areas frequented by the public and result in fines ranging from $300 to $1,000.

In Anchorage, where nearly 300,000 people live in close proximity to bears, fish waste is discarded each summer in vacant lots, greenbelts, and along local streams and lakeshores. Anchorage Area Wildlife Biologist Cory Stantorf stresses the importance of proper disposal of fish waste especially in Anchorage near the rivers and highly used trail systems.

“Fish waste is a huge attractant to bears and can pose an extreme public safety issue to those who are utilizing the trails in Anchorage. Proper disposal of your fish waste is key to protecting yourself and local bears.”

Dumping fish in these places can also attract big fines. Prohibited under Alaska’s littering laws (AS 46.06.080), illegal dumping can lead to penalties of up to $1,000.

Illegally discarded fish waste has also created problems in Matanuska-Susitna Valley communities and on the Kenai Peninsula.

Fish waste should not be dumped into local lakes and streams as fish diseases and parasites can be drainage specific. Moving fish waste from drainage to drainage has the potential to introduce harmful bacteria or viruses into stream systems, thus endangering local salmon and trout populations.

“Properly disposing of fish waste after cleaning your harvest is part of being a responsible angler. You don’t want to unintentionally attract wildlife or harm other fish populations,” said Donald Arthur, Anchorage Sport Fish Biologist. “So please take the time to properly dispose of your fish waste”.

Anglers who clean fish on site are encouraged to chop carcasses into numerous pieces and throw them into fast-moving water. Anglers who remove fish from the fishing site and fillet or process them somewhere else should follow these recommendations to dispose of fish waste in a safe manner:

  • If allowed, fish waste should be taken directly to a waste transfer station or to the landfill. Another option is to freeze fish waste to eliminate odors and then place it out with garbage on the morning of trash pickup. Do not place waste out the night before pickup.
  • The Central Peninsula Landfill located at Mile 98.5 Sterling Highway 2.5 miles south of Soldotna accepts fish waste free of charge from 8 a.m. to 5:45 p.m. seven days a week.
  • Fish waste can also be deposited at Peninsula transfer facilities, including those in Cooper Landing, Kasilof, and Ninilchik, but in smaller quantities; all fish waste must be double-bagged in plastic trash bags with a limit of two bags dropped off per day.
  • Anchorage Regional Landfill, the city’s Central Transfer Station, and the Girdwood Transfer Station all accept residential, noncommercial fish waste.
  • Matanuska-Susitna Borough Solid Waste takes residential, noncommercial fish waste at all facilities, but it must be bagged. The central landfill location serves Palmer/Wasilla, with transfer stations located in Big Lake, Butte, and Sutton.

For additional information, please contact Anchorage Fisheries Biologist Donald Arthur at (907) 267- 2225.