Cook Inlet Aquaculture Association leader to retire

The executive director of Cook Inlet’s regional hatchery organization is planning to step down.

Gary Fandrei, the executive director of Cook Inlet Aquaculture Association, announced his plans to retire from the organization Jan. 2. He’s served in the role since 1997 after initially joining the organization as a fishery biologist in 1990.

As executive director, Fandrei oversees the nonprofit’s four hatcheries, various fish stocking and passage programs and day-to-day operations. Though he transitioned to more administrative work when he took the position as executive director, he still participated in field work when possible, according to a Jan. 2 news release from CIAA.

“Gary worked tirelessly for CIAA,” the release states. “It was not unusual for him to work seven days a week, especially if he could still dip his toes into field work with an occasional trip to one of the remote project sites such as Packers Lake. Gary’s professionalism and dedication will be deeply missed.”

There isn’t a firm date for the end of his tenure yet — Fandrei will stay on until the organization can find a new executive director, according to the news release. The search began this January.

Fandrei said he wasn’t sure about his future plans yet. He is originally from the upper Midwest and said he wasn’t sure about leaving Alaska after retiring.

“I actually enjoy living up in Alaska,” he said. “My wife and I talked about it, and we said we don’t want to do anything different.”

CIAA is one of the regional hatchery organizations around Alaska that release salmon smolt to supplement the wild runs that return to the rivers each year. In Cook Inlet, the Trail Lakes Hatchery near Seward focuses on sockeye salmon production and the Tutka Bay and Port Graham hatcheries in Lower Cook Inlet produce pink salmon.

Reach Elizabeth Earl at

More in News

ASLC Seasonal Animal Care Specialist Emma Begalka interacts with Mist the Steller sea lion in the Underwater viewing area at the Alaska SeaLife Center during an enrichment session on November 30, 2022. Mist unexpectedly passed away on January 23, 2023 after staff observed seizure-like tremors. (Photo courtesy Kaiti Grant/Alaska SeaLife Center)
Young sea lion dies unexpectedly at SeaLife Center

Mist, who was approximately 2-and-a-half years old, had been socializing with three other Steller sea lions

Kristin Davis performs a dissection on a donated lynx on Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2023, at Kenai Central High School in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo provided by Kristin Davis)
KCHS students get rare opportunity to dissect lynx in class

“A local trapper let me know there was a lynx, would I want to have it?,” anatomy and biology teacher Kristin Davis said

Soldotna City Council members interview city manager applicant Elke Doom (on screen) during a special city council meeting on Monday, Jan. 30, 2023. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Soldotna council interviews city manager candidates

The city announced last November that Soldotna City Manager Stephanie Queen will be stepping down

A promotional graphic for Zach’s Fight (Facebook)
Zach’s Fight fundraiser to benefit Kenai athlete during Tuesday basketball

A fundraiser will be held for a sophomore diagnosed with leukemia.

The deadline for the Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend, which comes from the fund managed by the Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation, is coming up fast, landing on March 31, 2023. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)
2023 PFD filing available, ends March 31

Applications can be filed online through myAlaska, or by visiting

Seward Middle School students ride the chair lift at Alyeska Resort in Girdwood, Alaska, on Jan. 26, 2023. (Photo courtesy Myla Lijemark)
Hitting the slopes

Seward Middle School students get outside and onto the side of a mountain

Kachemak Emergency Services logo.
Lawsuit: Borough retaliated against harassment complaint

The suit says the borough violated the “covenant of good faith and fair dealing” and caused “severe emotional distress”

Flowers bloom at Soldotna City Hall on Wednesday, June 24, 2021, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Soldotna OKs bumps to city water, sewer rates

The changes are effective July 1

Most Read