Many Juneau tourists take home a fish or two. The delegation from Mishan, China, wants the whole hatchery.
After touring Douglas Island Pink and Chum, Mishan Mayor Wang Baotian said building a salmon hatchery will be his priority when he returns home. Baotian and three other Mishan city officials were in Juneau for three days to solidify a sister city relationship between the two cities.
"Visiting DIPAC this morning has left a great impression upon us," Baotian said Tuesday through translator Stanley Zhang. "We have (the) same kind of geographic situation."
Mishan is at latitude 45, similar to Portland, Ore. It has a 1,752-square-mile lake with some wild chum runs in rivers emptying into the East Sea.
"When they build the facility they can control all the return fish," Baotian said.
The four officials from Mishan spent several hours at DIPAC with Executive Director Jon Carter.
"They just were very impressed with the facility and they did ask what it would cost to build one, so I suspected they were thinking along that line," Carter said. "One of my answers to them was this took more than 20 years to build and there were many failures as well as successes, so it's not something they could just decide to do and do it out of hand."
Baotian hopes to call upon more advice from Juneau to start a hatchery. He'd like to arrange exchange programs with the University of Alaska fishery program and the university in Mishan. He'd also like to make use of the expertise at DIPAC.
"They either send people here to learn more about this business, or they will invite DIPAC people especially," Baotian said.
The Mishan delegation hadn't discussed an exchange with Carter yet, and he wasn't ready to say how much help DIPAC would be willing to give Mishan.
"In one sense you're building competition. In another sense it's nice to be a neighbor," Carter said. "It's particularly sensitive right now when we're struggling so hard with our salmon industry."
During their three-day visit, the Mishan officials also played table tennis at Juneau-Douglas High School, took a helicopter flightseeing tour with Coastal Helicopters, went to the Mendenhall Glacier and ate at the Salmon Creek Salmon Bake.
While at the glacier the Mishan visitors were offered a drink of water straight from the glacier melt.
"They remarked you couldn't taste it," said interim City Manager John MacKinnon, who escorted the visitors.
The Mishan delegation also was impressed by Juneau's tourists. Mishan is trying to develop tourism, and like Juneau it is in a little-known corner of a large country, said Mishan Deputy Mayor Li Lian Chun through translator Zhang.
"We want to experience and want to learn from your city," Chun said.
The Mishan officials were scheduled to leave this afternoon.