Fish waste-to-compost project starting in Dillingham this month

Around this time next year, Dillingham gardeners should have access to compost made from the waste of locally caught salmon. A grant-funded project is taking off at the local landfill in August, and it will need some good fish waste to get going. 

“I’m calling it the Fish Waste Compost Project,” says Gabe Dunham, the Marine Advisory Program Agent in Bristol Bay. Dunham inherited the project and is nudging it past the planning phase this month.

Producing the compost will take a fair amount of fish waste this year, and the plan calls for a focus on making use of subsistence fish waste. Though it’s a little late in the season for most people’s fishing efforts, Dunham is hoping that the scraps from whatever salmon are caught, likely silvers, and ends up in a separate waste bin marked UAF Sea Grant that’ll be available by the second week in August.

The City has allowed the project to use a portion of a closed landfill cell, and final approval from the state is still pending.

Dunham says the composting technique has been proven at other projects. An electric fence should help deter bears and covering each compost row with top soil and fabric should cut down on the stench.

Since the project is grant funded for now, the compost will be free next year and probably up for sale after that.

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