Valdez Fisheries was organized in 1978 by a group of Valdez residents representing a cross-section of the Valdez community. The desire to raise more salmon for local fishermen came after they experienced several closed fishing seasons due to the bitter cold winters of 1971-1973, which killed off most of the natural runs to Prince William Sound. The resulting fishing closures all but devastated the commercial and sport fisheries in Prince William Sound. Out of this need, the vision for today’s hatchery program grew, and its founders set a goal of producing an annual return of 10 million pink salmon and 100,000 coho salmon.
Alaska created the Fisheries Rehabilitation Enhancement Division (FRED) within the Department of Fish and Game in 1971. Later, in an effort to privatize salmon enhancement, the private nonprofit Hatchery Act of 1974 was created allowing for the application of hatchery permits by Alaskans. VFDA was established under this regulatory statute.
The Valdez Fisheries Development Association Inc. was officially incorporated in August of 1980 as an Alaska nonprofit corporation. It was designated to be tax exempt by the Internal Revenue Service under Code § 501(c)(3). As such, VFDA has no members or shareholders, and is managed by an eight-member volunteer Board of Directors.
VFDA is not a regional aquaculture association and collects no tax revenues from local fishermen. Its primary revenue source comes from the sale of pink salmon to the local seafood processors. Salmon sales account for almost 100% of the funds necessary for hatchery operations, administration, and debt retirement. Capital loans are available through the Fisheries Enhancement Revolving Loan Fund, which is managed by the State of Alaska.
VFDA has a rich history of successful and responsible salmon enhancement, spanning three decades. It has become a strong economic engine for the community of Valdez and Prince William Sound region. VFDA continues to create millions of wild Alaskan salmon to better the lives of those who depend on Alaska’s salmon resources for work and play.