Paul Cook ’19

Fish Technician, Sitka Sound Science Center

Paul Cook holding a large fish

Next time you enjoy a slice of salmon, thank Paul Cook.

At the Sheldon Jackson Hatchery at the Sitka Sound Science Center in Sitka, Alaska, Cook and his colleagues raise pink, chum, and coho salmon — more than six million fish per year. If not for hatcheries like his, says Cook, the wild salmon population would be depleted beyond recovery. 

“We’re not a fish farm,” says Cook. “We rear these salmon in fresh water and then release them into the ocean.”

We’re not a fish farm,” says Cook. “We rear these salmon in fresh water and then release them into the ocean.

Paul Cook at fish hatcheryCook, an environmental studies major, got interested in hatcheries during his time at USF. “I enrolled in a field course in culture and environment with Professor George Gmelch, and we toured the hatchery. I kept in touch with the science center staff and when a position opened up, it was offered to me.”

In addition to his daily work rearing salmon, Cook teaches aquaculture to local high school students, teaching them about salmon and their part in a healthy ecosystem.

Cook says that his hatchery’s fish, marked with a tag, have been caught and served far and wide. 

“We feed the world, literally.”