How to Dispose of Fish Waste Legally in the Mat-Su Valley

Originally posted on July 4, 2017. Updated July 25, 2019

The Valley’s Fish Creek will open to dipnetting by Emergency Order on July 26. Many salmon heads are also driving south to participate in the Kenai River dipnet fishery. Thousands of fish will be filleted, smoked, vacuum packed or canned and there’s no better time than now to review how to properly dispose of fish waste in the Mat-Su Valley.

Processing fish on or near the river is ideal if conditions allow. Dispose of fish waste by chopping carcasses in pieces and tossing it back into the river, preferably into fast moving water. 

According to Dan Bosch, Anchorage regional management coordinator with the Division of Sport Fish, fish waste should not be dumped into local lakes and streams as fish pathogens and parasites can be drainage specific. Moving fish waste from drainage to drainage has the potential to introduce fish pathogens into stream systems, thus endangering local salmonids.

Those choosing to process fish at home should take fish waste in trash bags to a  Mat-Su Borough Solid Waste facility located in these communities:

Palmer - 1201 N 49th State St Palmer

Big Lake - 13507 Hollywood Road

Butte - 17390 E. Butte Road

Sutton - 15625 North Glenn Hwy.

Willow - 15469 N Willow Station Road

Trapper Creek - Milepost 116.5 of the George Parks Highway

Talkeetna - 24150 South Comsat Road Mile 11.8 Talkeetna Spur Road

Pt. MacKenzie - 22481 West Point Mackenzie Road

According to ADF&G, discarding fish waste on public or private property or along roads, pull-offs and trails can attract bears into areas frequented by the public and result in fines ranging from $300 to $1,000

“Fish attract bears and bears are likely to defend those food sources” said wildlife biologist Dave Battle. 

While many of the human/bear interactions we hear about happen in and around Anchorage, it was just over two years ago that a bear was killed in Palmer after rummaging through trash near the Palmer airport.

Wildlife biologist Todd Rinaldi told KTVA back in 2014 that “Bears occasionally will wander through our neighborhoods in Palmer, Wasilla and other Valley communities and that’s just a part of living in Alaska. What we don’t want them doing is sticking around because garbage, poorly secured pet or livestock feed, and other food-based attractants are available.”

Follow ADF&G’s recommendations for fish waste disposal and you’ll stay safe, out of the news, and keep cash in your pocket all while caring for Alaska’s rivers and wildlife.