Thursday, February 09, 2012

Are Alaska's salmon hatcheries unsustainable?

Alaska is making a risky bet on salmon hatcheries. The bet is so extreme that "the fishing industry depends on hatcheries."

Now a new study shows (yet again) how hatchery salmon can harm the sustainability of salmon. This is old news, of course, a study by the University of Alaksa done in 2001 issued this dire warning:

This report concludes that industrial-scale hatch- ery salmon production, which releases billions of smolts into the North Pacific Ocean, could be jeop- ardizing Alaska’s wild salmon. Additionally, there are legitimate management questions as to whether hatchery operations in Alaska are in line with cur- rent Alaska Department of Fish and Game policies, including the Sustainable Salmon Fisheries Policy.

At a time when other fishery managers are cutting back on hatcheries because of proven harm to wild salmon, Alaska is happy to keep pumping out billions of farm-bred fish into Alaska's ocean. Is Alaska doomed to be the last tragic believer in the hatchery salmon myth?
It's an interesting time to ponder the sustainability of Alaska's salmon hatcheries, as Alaska makes proud claims about sustainable fishing and says we don't need no outsiders to look over our shoulders and evaluate our sustainability.

How many years does Alaska want to keep riding this string of risky bets?


the boy said...

The issue of degrading the wild populations of salmon is only half the problem. These hatchery raised fish are released without any disease screening and with their larger size and populations dominate the Pacific Pasture. Anecdotally the record runs of 2010 seem to be a result of enhanced food production in the N. Pacific from an Alaskan volcano. Ergo lower food production lower numbers of fish returning to spawn. And Alaska is less than half of the problem with respect to over grazing the N. Pacific.

Janey said...

I have a friend from Alaska that says Alaska salmon is pretty good, so lets hope they can sustain those hatcheries. I've actually been meaning to take my dad on a trip there to try some out seeing as we are both fish lovers.

Anonymous said...

Stores in Canada selling fish always refer to Pacific salmon as "wild" and in doing so differentiate that product from farmed Atlantic salmon, which are labeled as such.
However, over a third of the so-called "wild" salmon is not wild at all; over 9 billion Pacific salmon are dumped into the North Pacific "pasture" each year. There is a hell of a big difference in a salmon that has been raised in a hatchery and one raised naturally,in the wild rivers and streams flowing into the Pacfic from the North American coast. Labeling these fish "wild" is a marketing deception; i.e.-an out-right lie.
Stuart Morrison, Kelowna British Columbia.

Irene_J said...

I agree Janey, I think the Canadian organizations are just mad because their fish aren't certified as "sustainable and environmentally sound" as Alaska's salmon. Kenai Fishing