Salmon Culture Semester: A Hands-On Learning Experience at University of Alaska


October 15, 2019


Spring 2019 Semester: January 14-May 2, 2019

Why Sitka?

Sitka serves as the perfect backdrop for a semester of experiential study focusing on salmon culture techniques as applied in Alaska’s enhancement facilities. Sitka, a town of 9,000 people, lies on the outer edge of Baranof Island in Southeast Alaska, and offers unique opportunities for hands-on marine studies. Fisheries are the backbone of the town, which is home to an Alaska Department of Fish and Game office, an aquaculture association, three hatcheries, five working harbors, several industrial seafood processors, and many commercial, sport, and subsistence fishermen. Plus, Sitka boasts a dynamic, diverse, and inclusive community! When not immersing themselves in the multifaceted fishing industry in town, students will have the opportunity to get to know Sitka in a number of ways—through natural history seminars, community concerts and activities, and its bustling downtown.

Aquaculture in Sitka

Sitka has developed a reputation as a stronghold for aquaculture within the state, especially in regards to aquaculture education. The Sheldon Jackson Hatchery works in partnership with the Sitka Sound Science Center and has been providing education opportunities since 1974 to students of all ages and levels of expertise. Many fish culturists working across the state got their start there, and UAS students are eligible for internships there.

The Northern Southeast Regional Aquaculture Association also runs two hatcheries on the island: Medvejie Hatchery and Sawmill Creek Hatchery. Medvejie is the most successful sport and commercial Chinook production program in Southeast Alaska; they also produce chum and coho. Sawmill Creek, the newest facility in Sitka, produces coho.

All three facilities have very different processes and production goals, creating the perfect education experience for students in the area who get to learn about and observe a wide range of hatcheries up-close. During the Salmon Culture Semester, students will also become familiar with remote rearing techniques by traveling to one of the many remote hatchery facilities in Southeast Alaska.


Core Aquaculture Semester Courses

FT 122: Alaska Salmon Culture I (3 cr)
The first of a two-course sequence, this course introduces students to the principles, concepts and methods used in the production of Pacific Salmon. The course addresses all aspects of fry and smolt production, with an emphasis on modern fish culture techniques used by Alaskan producers. Topics include water quality, brood stock management, egg collection and incubation, egg and live fish transport, fresh and saltwater rearing techniques, feeding practices, growth, record keeping, and fish health management.


FT 222: Alaska Salmon Culture II (3 cr)
The second course of the Alaskan Salmon Culture sequence. In this class, methods used to enhance and rehabilitate the five species of Pacific salmon harvested in the commercial, sport and subsistence fisheries of Alaska and Northwestern United States will be covered in detail, and students will be provided with a thorough understanding of regulations and guidelines established by the state of Alaska to administer salmon enhancement programs through private non-profit aquaculture association. Prerequisite: successful completion of FT 122.


FT 230: Alaska Salmon Culture Lab (1 cr)
This intensive course focuses hands-on learning, as students put salmon enhancement techniques and skills into practice. Topics include egg incubation techniques, feeding techniques, rearing, pathobiology and tagging and marking techniques. Course includes an in-class lecture portion, hands-on lab activities, and visits to local salmon hatcheries.


FT 291: Fisheries Technology Internship (3 cr)

This course is an opportunity for students to apply their Pacific salmon enhancement coursework in a professional aquaculture setting. Students will be matched with local facilities to further practice and develop ther hands-on hatchery and fish culture techniques and skills.


FT 193: Cold Water Survival (1 cr)

Students will learn the basic skills to survive in cold water. This course consists of classroom instruction, pool skills, and ocean experiences. Topics include: Hypothermia, Dressing for cold, Types of PFDs and their uses, Retrieving someone who falls overboard, Radio calls, Survival suit and raft training, and other related topics.


MT 119: Small Vessel Operator (1 cr)

Learn to safely operate a small vessel in Alaskan waters. Covers navigation, rules of the road, trip planning including weather, radio operation, line handling and vessel operation including a practice session on the water. Foul weather/rain gear may be required.


MT 120: Outboard Motor Maintenance (1 cr)

An introduction to outboard systems that need maintenance and upkeep for efficient operation. Ignition, carburetion power head and lower unit systems will be studied emphasizing preventive maintenance.


Other courses are available to students including: SCUBA Diving, Scientific Diving, Introduction to Fisheries of Alaska, Fresh Water Ecology, Fisheries Biology, Introduction to Oceanography, Natural History of Alaska, Flora of Southeast Alaska, Tlingit Language, Ceramics, Welding, Yoga, Fitness Classes, and more!


All classes will be held on the UAS campus or at local field sites. Transportation to field sites is provided by the University. UAS classrooms are equipped with Smart Boards, VCON, and Wi-Fi. Our small class sizes make it easy for our students to receive personal attention from our top-notch faculty.


Sitka has many housing options, including co-occupancy rooms from the Sitka Fine Arts Camp on the historic Sheldon Jackson Campus, long term off-season occupancies at local fishing lodges, hostels, hotels, and B&Bs, and other short-term rentals.


Tuition and Fees = $3,000.

Learn More

For additional information contact Dr. Reid Brewer (email or call 907-747-7799) or visit