Thursday, September 18, 2008

Alaska's half-farmed salmon

Alaska's love affair with farming of salmon (despite words to the contrary) is slowly coming under scrutiny. Fish people in Alaska should be up front about their salmon hatcheries that are really a lot like fish farms.

Image: boyhood home of a so-called "wild" salmon?

Blogfish has noted previously that Alaska's so-called wild salmon include some fish that are raised for part of their lives in fish farms called "hatcheries." These fish live for up to half of their lives in farms, before being released into the ocean. When caught and sold, half-farmed fish are called "wild."

The problem is worst for less-preferred species like pink salmon and chum salmon, but even some sockeye and a very few chinook (king) salmon begin their life in hatcheries (fish farms).

Just this week, a letter to the editor of the copyrighted and subscription news service Intrafish has a scathing critique and a new term that just might begin to stick (excerpt below). Fish farmer Neil Sims of Kona Blue refers to Alaska's hatchery fish as "half-farmed" and writes about the hypocrisy of Alaska's opposition to fully-farmed fish, while simultaneously half-farming huge numbers of salmon.

This is an interesting take on the wild salmon vs. farmed salmon debate. The best answer is that we need 3 categories, wild, hatchery, and farmed salmon. But I don't look to Alaska for progress on this issue.


Alaska's half-farmed salmon are a waste of resources

From: Neil Sims
President, Kona Blue Water Farms, LLC

10.09.08 15:23

John Fiorillo had a “chuckle” over Alaska’s opposition to offshore aquaculture , when he argued – quite soundly – that Alaska is already the world’s biggest offshore aquaculture program, because of the massive salmon stock enhancement effort.
...

how does Alaska’s half-farmed salmon measure up...

The easy answer is to imagine the furor if there were 58 million farmed fish escapees each year! But when they are deliberately allowed to escape (i.e. released) into the ocean, Alaska’s hatchery-reared stocks compete with truly wild fish for prey and other resources...
Hope you don't mind me posting this excerpt, Intrafish

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hm...

p-d said...

Given that the containment of farming practices often serves as a petri dish, I'd be interested to know what kind of potential dangers the released half-farmed salmon present to the truly wild salmon.

Though the pioneering spirit is innate to Alaska, progress on these issues is mainly determined by demands of the end consumer and the regulatory bodies enforcing the terms.

Cheers!

pamela said...

I don't think that a hatchery makes that much of difference. For example I live in Missouri and we have trout hatcheries near the Current River to help with the amount of fish being fished out of the rivers by residents and vacationers. They put up the same struggles a wild fish gives when caught and they taste exactly the same cooked on a campfire. These hatcheries help to keep the population from depleting, which is very good for salmon in Alaska, because salmon is in high demand everywhere right now.
It is important to know if there are harmful bacterias and such in the water the fish are farmed in, but that is the same as any product consumed by us. It rests in the hand of the employees, don't you ever wonder what the person is like who made your double cheeseburger. I do.

jeffry r. johnston said...

congrats on being a blog of note. been following your blog for a a while because you always post great content i don't necessarily read elsewhere and i appreciate the humor your sometimes inject into your posts.

Oren said...

I think this practice of releasing farm-raised salmon before catching them again is a positive practice. Aren't we over-fishing wild salmon anyway? And doesn't the ability to call salmon meat "wild" make it more profitable at a retail level? It seems like this might be the best of both worlds.

Mina Jade said...

Fish - and any animals - deserve to be preserved.

Anonymous said...

You're right on the mark. It's also interesting to note that the Marine Stewardship Council (certification body for Alaskan salmon), as well as the Monterey Bay Aquarium (Seafood Watch) make NO mention of these half-farmed salmon. They both give a 'green' light to (half-farmed) salmon from Alaska and read light anything that is farmed! Are they in the pockets of the Alaskan fishing industry?
Oh, and Pamela and Oren (below), you are missing the point - these hatchery raised Alaskan salmon are EXTRA salmon in the ocean meant for commercial gain - they are NOT salmon intended to repopulate natural rivers.

Anonymous said...

Here it is:
http://hk.youtube.com/watch?v=Qe7EJQTVPIk&feature=related

CarraE<333 said...

i think that its dumb to kill 4500 whales just to see how they are dying, i mean, what if the reason that they were dying was because they were killing them all to find out, but in the end the whales were fine in the first place, but now 4500 whales are gone, so they come up with some excuse so the blame doesnt all fall on them.
thats just my opinion though. but thats what u asked for so i gave it to you!!!
-CarraE<333

Sara said...

In Chile they have lots of Salmon hatcheries as well. I think the difference here is that people don't try to lie about where the fish come from. Everyone knows there aren't any salmon in the wild. At least not ones that any one would really want to eat.

preppy little dress said...

interesting post, hmmmm!

kilo verme said...

how does Alaska’s half-farmed salmon measure up...

├žatlak kremi said...

I don't think that a hatchery makes that much of difference.

in_flux said...

We have hatcheries in Washington, and I don't think that it's that bad of a problem. We are over-fishing salmon anyway, and most of the natural streams that the salmon used to follow to find breeding grounds are so over-developed that they can no longer use them. Also, I don't think that it raises the risk for disease drastically because young salmon in streams and and estuaries live in high densities anyway. And I don't think that you can really say that these fish are encroaching on the "natural" salmon - these are the natural salmon, they come back from the wild to breed in the hatchery.

nickgray123 said...

Its not the re-population that is the problem, its the risk of picking up the problems of intensive salmon farming, e.g. disease, lice, absorbtion of unwanted chemicals and subsequent consumption by humans, and the effects of fish waste in the ecosystem.
I have this view of farmed fish from some bad reports and Alsaskan fish might also pick up this if people think these salmon have their origins in that environment.

Anonymous said...

When I googled salmon ranching, I got this blog that has some interesting information about the hatcheries in Alaska - I assume this is the half-farmed salmon you refer to.

http://alaskasalmonranching.wordpress.com/what-is-salmon-ranching/

TimRedd787 said...

Can anyone "name names" of salmon products on the grocery shelves, as in canned "Wild Alaskan Salmon"... but, it really isn't?

IOW, what is the 'real skinny' on these? Are they wild, hatchery,or farmed salmon?

Anyone got a link to a site which reveals this? Thanx