- Associated Press - Sunday, November 8, 2015

PETERSBURG, Alaska (AP) - King salmon eggs are once again growing near Petersburg in a state-owned hatchery restored after a March 2014 fire.

The Crystal Lake Hatchery is operated by the Southern Southeast Regional Aquaculture Association and has been rebuilt to incorporate new technology, KFSK-FM reported (http://bit.ly/1Pw9ddi ).

“Even the cost of running things, everything is so much more efficient now,” said manager Loren Thompson.

The fire destroyed over a million King salmon eggs as well as outdated, 30-year-old machinery. It’s suspected that an old wall heater ignited the blaze.

Thompson says the rebuilt facility holds cutting-edge equipment.

“We can use this system to kind of manipulate the temperature,” Thompson said. “The lights above are all computerized. It simulates photo period, whatever you want the photo period to be. You can set that, they’ll gradually come on and simulate day light, they’ll stay on until you tell it to it to turn off and then it will kind of turn off slowly like the sun setting.”

He said water recirculates into a chiller that keeps the incubators up to five degrees cooler, slowing fish growth so the salmon can be released in warmer conditions that encourage them to eat and grow.

Thompson says growth and development is too fast at 16 degrees.

“We’d have to actually almost pull these things out the incubators at Christmas time,” Thompson said. “And we don’t want to do that. We’d rather wait until March or so.”

Millions of King salmon eggs are incubated at the facility. They are expected to be strong and healthy enough to leave the hatchery by spring 2017.

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Information from: KFSK-FM, http://www.alaska.net/~kfsk/

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