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Shelton Mason County Journal
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Mason County Journal
August 19, 1971     Shelton Mason County Journal
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August 19, 1971

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!j, /:}Sj i /(!i)i i i ii !;/ i!; : k i.:i~.~;;zi~-~ :~:; ii' d; .!C~,~ ..>; .... . %~',}~. ]< i ~ :i: : ii}i iT ' ::; ; i :i :...: / /" / THREE INDIAN WORKERS pull up the net on one of the pens to respect the fish. Algae and seaweed must be cleaned off the pens and dead fish must be taken out regularly. MEASURING JUST the amount of a certain kind of fish food for one meal is Ivan George, one of the Indian workers for the Squaxin Island Experimental Aquaculture Project. By CHARLES GAY A solution to the world's food shortage, a money-making project, or a noble effort that proved unworkable? It's too early to tell, but the results of a fish farming experiment currently being conducted by a group of Western Washington Indians will provide the answer. The Indians are raising fish in pens under controlled conditions just off Squaxin Island in an attempt to grow the animals from fingerling size to 1/2-1 pound size for commercial marketing. The fish farming, or aquaculture, is an experimental program undertaken by the Small Tribes Organization of Western Washington (STOWW). It involves the pen-rearing of salmon and trout in floating nylon-webbed pen enclosures. In the enclosures, the fish are protected from their natural enemies and fed four meals a day. James Fraser, the biological advisor for the Indians, is one of the few non-lndian people working on the project. Fraser advises the Indians on the feeding of the fish and maintenance of the project, as well as problems which may arise, such as disease. On June 9, 25,000 chinook salmon fingerlings were transferred from the Washington State Department of Fisheries tank trucks to the floating pens off Squaxin Island. The chinook salmon from the state were part of a cooperative deal made by the Indians. Some of the grown fish will be released to the state later. Another 8,000 chinook are being raised as part of an experiment by the University of Washington College of Fisheries. The four locations of the UW's ~ experiment are Kicket Island in the San Juans, Seabeck, Manchester and Squaxin Island. The same stock of fish, the same feeding techniques, and the same density are used; only the location is different at the four spots. Fraser said the Squaxin Island Experimental Aquaculture Project is unique in that it is the southernmost site of aquaculture on Puget Sound. He said the ' STOWW project has warm water ~ worries, sin~- th~ eempe~ature of, "~ the salt water off Squaxin Island can get as high as 62 degrees. Disease is a big problem at warmer temperatures. Six weeks ago, an outbreak of vibiro hit. It was defeated by feeding the salmon fresh fish food which was medicated and by thinning out the pens. A loss of five per cent was suffered, which Fraser did not think drastic. Each pen, which holds about 2,000 fish, is four feet wide by eight feet long and either eight or JAMES FRASER, left, and Dick Johns unload the fish into the pens at the start of the aquaculture project. Fraser is the Indians' biological consultant on the project. Purser of the Suquamish and Julian Smith and John Smith of the Skokomish. Chairman of the Squaxin tribe, which is backing the project, is Florence Sigo. The Squaxin Island coordinator, who works directly with the experiment, is Cal Peters. Dewey Sigo is the active Squaxin tribal representative. Sigo, the son of Florence Sigo, is in charge of getting funds for the project. He has carved a dugout canoe which is used for transportation around the project. STOWW was formed half a decade ago when a number of small tribes decided to band together for certain advantages. Among those was to ask for federal funds as a group, since the small tribes were not getting the funds that the larger tribes were. Each tribe chairman is a delegate to the STOWW board, which makes the decisions on matters. When the Indians decided to undertake the aquaculture project off Squaxin Island, they needed trained professional people to show them how to raise the fish. Fraser, a graduate from the University of Washington, was hired as the biologist. He works from the STOWW headquarters in Federal Way and makes frequent visits to the site of the project. The fish consume four per cent of their body weight per day. This is accomplished by feeding the 25,000 fish four times every day. Food costs 16 cents a pound. Fraser said that it is economical to feed the fish' up to -1 pound size, or eating size, but after the one pound size, the fish's value declines because it must eat too much food in relation to how much it grows. Besides feeding the fish, the Indians do maintenance jobs. These include cleaning the pens of algae and seaweedk, picking out the mortalities, and repairing the pens and boats used. The project is funded by the Bureau of Indian Affairs and on a smaller scale by the American Freedom From Hunger Foundation. The salaries of the workers come from the Department of Labor, Operation Mainstream. Some think if the experiment works, it could be one answer to the world's hunger problem. Fraser does not feel that it will solve the hunger problem in the immediate future. He looks on the project as more of a moneymaking one for the Indians. It will bring an economic base back to the Indians through a nonpolluting enterprise. The goal of the project is to help the small tribes financially. This experiment is to find out if aquaculture will work for the Indians. Indians million make after sound plan to as raft-rearing Fraser training three stageS. which is now the facilities of the but when pens will ha~, the size can swim relatively now (see with the house one The seC~ training P~ pr aquaculture training. The. classroom formal. The reservation aquaculture, project Fraser project'S optimistic fish are another fish are MOTORING AROLJND off the coast of Squaxin dugout canoe are Myrtle Penn and three children. The Dewey Sigo of Kamilche, is used for transportation fish-raising project. 16 feet deep. The Indians are densityexperimenting differences with to discover depth and the best conditions under which to raise the fish. In separate pens, the Indians have different kinds of fish. They : have some chum salmon which were reared at a small experimental hatchery of the Squaxin Indians at Kamilche. Dr. Lauren Donaldson of the University of Washington has provided a large number of his rainbow-steelhead cross hybrid "super trout." Five tribes are involved in the Squaxin aquaculture. Actively involved in learning to raise the fish are these representatives: Myrtle Penn from the Squaxin tribe, Dick Johns and Harry Johns of the Quinaults, Ivan George and Bob George of the Port Gamble band of the ClaUam tribe, Richard : ; ;i/? ; ;- UNDERNEATH THIS FLOAT are 25,000 fish that are being raised by the Small Tribes of Western Washington off Squaxin Island. The fish are kept in .... protect them from their natural enemies. Page 14 - Shelton-Mason County Journal - Thursday, August 19, 1971 HUNDREDS OF SALMON jump after the food into one of the pens at mealtime. The Indians