SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Fish Waste Composting Offers Alternative to Landfill Disposal


July 21, 2016
Thursday PM

(SitNews) - In summer 2015 Gabe Dunham, Alaska Sea Grant Marine Advisory agent in Bristol Bay, established a site at the Dillingham landfill to compost fish waste generated by local subsistence harvesters. The 2,000 pounds of waste he collected last summer, mixed with soil, wood chips, and paper, has produced about 4,000 pounds of finished compost that will be distributed to gardeners in a few months.

The subsistence harvest of salmon is an intense occupation in Bristol Bay during the fishing season. Harvesters take fish heads, bones, and guts to the Dillingham landfill collection bin, where it attracts bears due to the strong odor. The waste currently is buried at the landfill. The compost project is a “proof of concept” which illustrates that fish waste can produce a usable soil amendment for local gardeners.

jpg Fish Waste Composting Offers Alternative to Landfill Disposal

Gabe Dunham, Alaska Sea Grant Marine Advisory agent in Bristol Bay
Photo courtesy Alaska Sea Grant Fisheries

Dunham’s first step was to work with the City of Dillingham and state waste officials for approval of layout and use of a donated compost site in the landfill. He constructed compost piles using wood chips and topsoil along with fish waste, then covered the piles with a fleece material to regulate moisture and reduce odor. And he set up a temperature monitoring system at the site. The finished compost site includes a waste collection receptacle, a shelter for equipment, and a tractor for material handling.

To share the results of the project, Dunham hosted a public composting demonstration in 2015 and a workshop earlier this month. In future years, Dunham expects to coordinate volunteer maintenance of the site to continue to produce compost for local gardeners. The product contributes to the local economy by supporting locally grown food and replacing the cost of importing pre-made compost.

The fish waste composting project was implemented with a grant from the Alaska Coastal Impact Assistance Program in partnership with the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, US Fish and Wildlife Service, and National Fisheries Institute. The City of Dillingham donated the site for the project.



Edited by Mary Kauffman, SitNews


Source of News:

Alaska Sea Grant Fisheries



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