Stormy horizons

japanese salmon

Salmon fisheries of the future?/Mitsui & Co. rendering

Good news for Alaska commercial fishermen:  Salmon last year ranked as the favorite fish at Japanese conveyor-belt sushi restaurants for the sixth year in a row, according to a survey by seafood processor Maruha Nichiro.


Bad news for Alaska fishermen: “Ninety percent of that salmon is imported from Chile and Norway, but its popularity is now spurring domestic fish farming,” Nikkei Asian Review reported earlier this month.

The report of Japanese domestic fishing farming might be the worst news of all.

Gunnar Knapp, the now retired director of the University of Alaska Anchorage Institute of Social and Economic Research, more than a decade ago wrote a book-length study on the radical changes then beginning in the global salmon business. It was a warning of what was to come.

About the only thing Knapp missed was a transition from ocean-based net pens to land-based salmon “bluehouses,” as one Norwegian company is calling its  $130-million, 380,000-square-foot variation on a greenhouse under construction in Florida.

Another such farm, again backed by experienced Norwegian fish farmers, is planned for Maine. And the Japanese are talking about designing similar farms for use throughout Asia.

Salmon farms are technologically evolving at the speed of the 21st century while wild fish harvest techniques along the West Coast of the U.S. remain tied to early 20th century gear. While the Norwegians turn increasingly to computers and robots to help manage their marine farms, some Alaska fisheries rely on gillnet technology more than 100 years old and an indiscriminate fishing technology that sometimes causes significant problems for the management of mixed-stock fisheries.

The only big change in Alaska commercial fishing in the past three decades has been the steadily increasing volume of Alaska salmon head-and-gutted in the state, and then shipped to China to be filleted and resold. The process significantly cuts production costs, but drains processing jobs out of Alaska communities.

“China is Alaska’s largest seafood export market in terms of tonnage and value, accounting for 35 percent of tonnage and 27 percent of export value in 2015,” according to a report prepared for the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute. “However, it is estimated that approximately 80 to 90 percent of these exports are sold to secondary processors which re-export finished products to other global markets – primarily in Europe, the U.S., and Japan. Most of Alaska’s exports to China consists of frozen H&G
(headed/gutted) fish, which are then filleted in China where labor costs are considerably lower.”

Japan accounts for another 20 percent of Alaska export tonnage, according to the report, but the Japanese are trying to change that despite being handicapped by warm water.

Terrestrial salmon

GlobalAgInvestiing last year reported Mitsui & Co., one of the largest trading companies in Japan, paid $8 million for an 80 percent interest in FDR Japan Co., a new company trying to pioneer a recirculating system to enable land-based fish farming in Japan.

“Salmon-trout” operations, as the Japanese lump them, require seawater temperatures near 60 degrees, and Japanese coastal waters get warmer than that in the summer, making traditional, ocean-pen, salmon farming impossible, the Ashi Shimbun reported.

FDR thinks it has solved the problem with a closed-water system that uses artificially processed seawater. If the system works, it could revolutionize Japanese aquaculture that has to date focused on ocean ranching of salmon as in Alaska. The 49th state banned fish farming, but is almost as heavily into fish ranching as the Japanese.

“Ocean ranching of chum salmon commenced in (in Japan) the 1960s…(but) releases were dramatically increased in the late 1960s and early 1970s,” notes the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). “Since this seemed to yield good results releases continued to increase reaching the current level of about 2 billion smolts annually in the early 1980s….Annual harvests have increased almost ten-fold since the early 1960s.”

Alaska hatcheries release about 1.6 billion fry, the bulk of them in Prince William Sound. The salmon ranchers in Alaska face the same problems as those in Japan: The number of adult salmon returning from the releases vary from year to year, and the harvest is seasonal.

Fish farms can produce salmon year-round, provide them fresh to market on a schedule, and promote “locally grown,” a modern marketing trend.

“There’s no doubt that national interest in locally grown food is now leagues beyond a cultural trend,” writes Emily Payne at New Food Economy. “As of 2014, there were 8,268 operating farmers’ markets in the nation, up 180 percent since 2006, when the local food movement was already well underway, following a 200-percent surge from the period of 1994 to 2009.”


Yet more competition

The Japanese, however, aren’t looking at just local sales. As with the Norwegians building in Florida and Maine so they can market “Made in the USA” farmed salmon across the country, the Japanese are looking at bigger markets beyond the home island.

“Most of the salmon raised in Japan (now) goes to the local market,” writes Takumi Sasaki at Nikkei. “But Okamura Foods, a processor in Aomori Prefecture, northern Japan, wants to export. It hopes large-scale production will help it compete on price.”

Mitsui has even bigger plans, according Asahi. If the FDR technology proves up, Mitsui wants to build more land-based salmon farms in warm regions of Asia. Land-based salmon farms are on the leading edge of the technological revolution in salmon farming that includes a move to plant-based feeds that lower the costs of production, minimize toxins that can originate with fish meal from long-lived fishes, and end the criticism that fish farms are implicit in depleting the ocean’s forage fish.

“The most significant challenge facing feed production today…lies in the fundamental changes that ingredients are undergoing,” according to All About Feed, a website for agricultural businesses. “Traditionally, the protein in salmon feed has come from animal sources such as fishmeal and fish oil – both ideally suited to the needs of salmon and easy to convert into protein in the body. The fact that they are produced from wild-caught fish, however, makes them finite natural resources. Feeding wild fish to farmed fish is justifiably one of the biggest criticisms leveled at aquaculture and is a dubious practice from a sustainability perspective.”

Feed, the website notes, makes up about 50 percent of the operating cost for the average fish farm. Reduced food costs, increased product supply and growing competition are all factors that drive down price, which is good for consumers but not for Alaska commercial fishermen in a world where fish farms are already thriving.

Chilean salmon farmers this week reported 2017 profits up 17 to 82 percent over 2016, according to the Fish Farming Expert website. The Chileans also reported harvests were up 17 percent, but still short of the 2014-15 average. The Chileans have struggled with disease outbreaks and algal blooms, which are again causing problems this year.

The ability to isolate farmed fish from such ocean-related problems is another part of what is driving the move to land-based salmon farms. AquaBounty – the company made famous for the genetically modified, fast-growing salmon Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska tried to get banned as “Frankenfish” – last year bought a land-based fish farm in Indiana.

The company still needs approval from the federal Food and Drug Administration before it can begin growing genetically modified fish, but the idea of doing that appeared to be gaining some local support in the Midwest.

A Muncie Star Press report fingered Local Farm Bureau leader Joe Russell, who has been growing genetically modified soybeans and corn for 20 years, as a supporter.

“If it’s deemed safe by all of the regulatory agencies, I’d be honored to eat the first salmon to come out of there,” he told reporter Seth Slaubaugh. “It basically comes down to giving consumers a choice. If they prefer wild salmon, fine. It’s just like eggs. I saw eggs at Meijer the other day — 49 cents a dozen for commercial, $4.99 for free range and $5.99 for organic. They’re all probably equivalent food value, but it gives consumers a choice.”

Russell’s simple market summary underlines the problem now hurtling at Alaska commercial fishermen. Price has a big influence on sales. Those premium free-range and organic eggs are trendy but account for only about 5 percent of the market for eggs in the U.S., according to NPR.

Some people will pay higher prices some of the time, and all people will pay higher prices if there is no choice. But most people want a decent product at the lowest price.

When it comes to salmon, salmon farmers already set the market’s base price, according to Knapp and other economists, and they are going to continue to do so in the future with prices expected to creep downward as technology, as it always does, lowers production costs.

None of this is good for Alaska commercial fishermen catching salmon with antiquated gear and often further handicapped by traditional fishing regulations focused solely on conservation with no thought as to economic efficiency.

More bad

Possibly even worse, at least from a future marketing perspective, is the increasing portrayal of finfish aquaculture as a good thing.

“Over the past three decades, the global aquaculture industry has risen from obscurity to become a critical source of food for millions of people,” Michigan State University professor Ben Belton and colleagues from University of Stirling in the United Kingdom and Wageningen University in Holland wrote in The Conversation earlier this month. “In 1990, only 13 percent of world seafood consumption was farmed; by 2014, aquaculture was providing more than half of the fish consumed directly by human beings.

“Most of it comes from a dynamic new class of small- and medium-scale commercial farms, the existence of which is rarely recognized. To understand the potential of aquaculture to feed the world, researchers and consumers need to appreciate how dynamic this industry is.”

Whatever negative light that Alaska fishermen have managed to shine on farmed salmon up to his point is inevitably destined to fade as people globally become more and more accustomed to eating farmed fish.

“Throughout human history most of the fish people eat has been captured from oceans, rivers and lakes,” Belton and the other academics note. “But the total quantity of fish harvested from these sources peaked in the mid-1990s due to overfishing and environmental degradation. Demand for seafood has continued to increase since this time, as urbanization and average incomes have risen globally. Aquaculture is filling the gap.”









31 replies »

  1. Hi Bill . Yeah I fished pike down lower Yukon with joey Redington and his son . Nice ones .

  2. Thx Bill . When was the 200 mile limit enforced . I quit fishing lower Yukon in 95 . Good money . Two permits . Gross 45k 3 weeks . Two people . But it went mostly to gear and permits prior owner . Stocks crashed in 96 .To my understanding at that time foreign boats were a problem. Please fill me in with facts if you have them thx !!

      There were occasional high seas boats caught with miles long nets for a few years but they were targeting sockeyes mostly. I suspect that those boats had years of information about where to catch what they were after.
      There were no boats fishing off mouths of rivers like they could with the old 12 mile limit. And 12 miles is not exactly right off the mouths, either.
      No question that the 200 mile limit contributed to the success of Alaska’s salmon fisheries that were rebounding after limited entry.

  3. I only thing I regret, after being a commercial fisher, based out of Cordova, since 1977, is that I voted for Palin. She came to Cordova and convinced us, that she was the one!
    How is that working for you now?
    To set the record straight, I am not coasting through life and I can still put in 40 hours a week. Not bad for a 68 yo.

      • Thanks Bill,
        I will always remember that last ride, with you, Gus and me. Got what we needed in Kok, went out bar, took one on the side, Gus hanging onto to the setee pole. Hope you are doing well in Douglas!

      • James: isn’t that why the setee pole is there? my favorite thing when i lived in Juneau was to go to the Seattle boat show in the spring and look at all the “bluewater sailboats” with no damn handholds in the cabin. used to upset my wife (now long-ex) because the “salesman can hear you talking shit.” too bad. a boat without handholds in big weather is a blender. funny. i miss the sea, but i don’t miss the sea.

  4. From somebody that’s been in the British Columbia fishing industry for years.
    thinking that salmon farming ( feedlot operations )improvement over salmon ranching is very ill informed.
    North Pacific countries are unique in that we have a large grazing ground protected by the biggest navies in the world, so is economically safe to use.

    Oh by the way 98% of the Rivers/ streams on Vancouver Island have a foreign specie in them called alantic salmon. Escapees from Fish farms.

    • that could be true, Eric. it could also be false. we have no clue as to the implications of salmon ranching in the North Pacific ecosystem. it could be doing nothing but fertilizing the ocean. it could also be messing up some other systems.
      just because one form of aquaculture is out of out of sight, doesn’t mean it’s meaningless.
      if you have stray salmon in only 98 percent of your streams, you’re doing better than parts of Alaska. we have stray hatchery salmon in 100 percent of PWS streams, and they are genetically different from wild fish, and they are interbreeding with wild fish.
      so be thankful. you’re situation could be worse.
      should Alaskans be alarmed about this interbreeding of PWS wild and hatchery stocks? i’m not. others might be.
      studies have shown salmon can undergo rapid genetic adaptation to survive in hatchery environments. i see no reason to believe that wouldn’t happen in reverse in the wild. so i’m personally comfortable with the idea that hatchery fish filling up wild fish habitat in PWS streams would quickly revert to being hatchery fish if the hatcheries closed.
      i’d call that a valid conclusion based on available evidence, but it’s not proven. so i can understand where others might disagree.

  5. Have to agree . Not pleased with fish game management of fish stocks . Particularly Yukon river and Cook Inlet . I’m not fully familiar with laws but our state did not adequately protect fish from large foreign boats at mouth of Yukon when I fished there large boats multiple miles out would block fish passage with long nets and then they didn’t work carefully with Canadians to protect king stocks . They just squabbled over numbers. It crushed the industry. Barely comeing back now . I tell you Yukon kings are like candy . They don’t need special cooking . So tasty !!!!! Sport fisherman and subsistence fishing being studied as an economic priority makes sense to me . Needs studied where the dollars from fish are most effective. I say local subsistence should be first priority though . Touchy as that may be .

    • Rayme, the 200 mile limit removed the foreign boats from fishing offshore and intercepting our salmon (prior to that they were indeed an issue).
      I don’t think you are old enough to have been influenced by foreign vessels off the mouth of Yukon. There were some high-seas fishing vessels that gradually were removed, over the years. And this was not a State management issue, the feds handled enforcement (Coast Guard). I know of nobody that is suggesting our king salmon problems are due to any high-seas fishing today. Not impossible but just not probable IMO.
      You are certainly right about the quality of Yukon kings. The late Joee Redington told me that when he lived in St. Michael those kings were too rich to eat, by him. By the time they got up to Manley they were just right.

  6. It might be time to consider just what uses of salmon produce the maximum economic benefit to Alaska. Tourism is a huge economic engine for the State. Residents and non residents spend billions to catch a fish using a fishing rod or a dip net. In the Cook Inlet, alone, the sport, guided sport and Dip net fisheries produce significantly more economic benefit to the state than the outdated commercial fisheries. The dip net fisheries benefit more Alaskans than the commercial fisheries. And most of the money generated by non commercial uses stays in Alaska, unlike a great deal of the money generated by the commercial fisheries.
    When making decisions on how much the various users should be allowed to harvest perhaps it is about time to recognize the economics of sports harvest and the dwindling benefit from harvest using outdated gillnets.
    Consider that in the late 80s gillnet fishers in Cook Inlet were paid over $2.50 a pound for Sockeye salmon. Thirty years later they are getting less. Sports fishing in the late 80s produced very little economic benefit to the region and State. While these uses have dramatically increased economic benefits many times over, the revenue from the net fisheries has lost value when you consider the value of the $2.50 a pound then compared to the same amount today. Time for the State to get its priorities in the proper order.

    • AF, you keep referring to that 1988 value for salmon in Alaska’s fisheries. That was a one time event that disappeared the very next year (mostly due to EXXON Oil spill). 1988 even saw pink salmon being sold to the gillnet fishermen in PWS for 85 cents/lb and a few years later those pinks were bringing 4-5 cents/lb. This was also due to competition from fish farmers and saw commercial fishing permit values plummet. However, the fisheries remained quite healthy and new markets opened for especially low-valued salmon (pink and chum).
      Today many of those Alaskan salmon fisheries are quite healthy for both numbers and price. Also, the industry moved from largely canned salmon to largely fresh and fresh/frozen-big change that is most likely still happening today.
      Another area is in roe sales that make mostly chum salmon an economic fishery that is not available to fish farmers (only ranchers) and I’ve not seen any push for personal use chum fishing in our rivers for this roe. I’m not holding my breath for any dipnetting of chums or pinks by your noncommercial users.
      Good luck at your attempts at making this a political issue-its not worked up till now and I suspect it won’t work in the near future as long as our salmon fisheries remain healthy. But it is entertaining to hear the whining that takes place regularly whenever a particular guided fishery feels its being shorted.

      • Bill: the way we manage and market are salmon resources political issues, not just a biological one. Nothing wrong with that.
        Your claim that the salmon is healthy in regard to numbers and price is only partly true. We have good numbers, true. But price: not even close to being healthy. Assume the 1988 price was higher than usual. I grant you that. But Sockeye salmon selling in Bristol Bay for $1.15 per pound in 2017 is equivalent to being sold in 1988 for around 30 cents a pound when adjusted for inflation. If Sockeye were sold for Around $1.50 a pound in the late 80s as the average would seem to indicate they were, that would translate into approx $4.50 today. No Bill,the price is not healthy and it is simply because there is not the demand for wild fish on account of Asians and Europe wanting a consistently fresh and good product every day of the year. Our wild fish are often inconsistent in quality and fresh for only a few days of the year. Otherwise they are a frozen product. Something needs to

      • AF, not sure why you insist on using BB for your numbers and still using those late 80s that don’t reflect anything. Also, in the BB case, remember that those BB fishermen chose to sue the Japanese buyers of their sockeyes in the early 90s.
        The Japanese chose to leave that fishery and this resulted in a collapse in their prices as large percentage of those fish went to Japan.
        Anyway, the issue is quite complex in many fisheries for sure. If you are really interested in whether/not these fisheries are collapsing just look at permit values over the years.
        Then look at the attempts at getting younger Alaskans into these fisheries. The problem for younger folks is that they cannot afford the permits and boats it takes to compete. That just doesn’t square with your (and Craig’s) hollering the sky is falling on commercial salmon fishing.
        Frankly, if your feelings are that there is no future in commercial salmon fishing then just wait till those permits are selling for peanuts (should be any day now, right) and you and your buds can buy them all up and retire them. Heheh! Remember you don’t need that $200K vessel unless you intend to fish.

      • Bristol Bay did have a good year at $1 per pound, Bill. correcting for inflation, that would have equated to 34 cents per pound in 1981. that’s about half of what fishermen were paid that year.
        you’re right in the observation prices peaked in ’88, making it a bad year for comparison. prices are never going to get back there. but, sadly, they’re never going to get back to ’81 either.
        our salmon is now worth about half of what it was once worth. everyone has adjusted accordingly. and things are working OK because returns to the Bay are large. that fishery can probably plug along for a long time that way.
        and yes, roe sales and fish meal can support the PWS and SE fisheries to a large extent. and Cordova can get a long ride off those well-marketed early fish.
        Cook Inlet is a write off. nobody’s making a living off commercial fish there now and the state is damaging valuable sport fisheries to put a few thousands extra dollars into the pockets of about 1,000 people. the only description for that is economic mismanagement,gross economic mismanagement.
        there are some other localized problems – allocation wise – but they’re pretty small.
        but the real issue isn’t today or this summer or next. Alaska’s position in the global market should hold for years. the problem is that it is eroding, as you concede, and it will continue to erode.
        we can either face that and try to fix it (as SE seiners did with their permit buyback program) or we can just wait around until things start to collapse.
        there are number of fisheries that need a limited entry reset to correct for the changing price structure, and then there are some places where the state really should be looking at adding new fisheries (using new technology) to harvest underutilized stocks without creating more mixed stock disasters.
        we waste a lot of time in this state trying to figure out how to hang onto the past, which is impossible, when we should be talking about how to build a future, which is possible.

      • I agree Craig, that the Cook Inlet fish wars need to be fixed somehow. I see the drift fleet wants it to be managed by the Feds-good luck with that but we’ll see how it shakes out. Probably just due to nobody making a living anymore so what have they got to lose.
        I just have no idea about the buying back permits with the State being short of funds. It’s not like its that much money and I’ve heard from one of my relatives up there that a solution to king salmon is to retire a handful of setnet sites that do majority of damage.
        But what you are talking about is the drift fleet damaging upper CI cohos mainly if I read you correct. Seems to me the B of Fish could easily fix this if they chose. I know that some years ago they did something to that management that allowed later run cohos to escape those sockeye fishermen. May have been the corridor thing, but that could fairly easily be done more if Board gets a chance-depending on what the Feds decide to do about managing that fishery.

      • Bill: there’s no doubt Cook Inlet can be fixed. they can restrict the drift fleet. they can go to shallower set nets. they can let the setnetters fish more days, but shorten the periods to correspond to tides, so those kings can get under the nets.
        there’s a lot that can be done. it just isn’t getting done.
        but i worry about the big picture more than Cook Inlet. this from a study published in the latest issue of the NPAFC:
        ‘”A recent study by Gentry et al. (2017)
        calculated the possible growth of aquaculture on a global
        scale and found it has the potential to produce 15 billion
        tons of finfish on a yearly basis. This is over 100 times
        the current global consumption of seafood (Gentry et
        al. 2017). Furthermore, finfish aquaculture production is
        considered more environmentally friendly in certain ways
        than farming terrestrial meat sources, like chickens, cows,
        and pigs. This is due to higher food conversion ratios and
        less greenhouse gas emissions associated with aquaculture
        as opposed to livestock production (Hall et al. 2011).”
        sooner or later, Alaska is simply going to get swamped by farmed fish. we’ve already seen the power they exert over prices. we need to start figuring out how the hell we’re going to deal with this before our half-price salmon of old become quarter-price salmon or less.
        all the major processors have already diversified into some farmed salmon operation or another. and they’ll throw Alaska fishermen and Alaska under the bus in favor of economic greener pastures when those appear.

  7. The very best tasting salmon is caught wild in Alaska. For many consumers, buying it is a real indulgence. In a locale I’m familiar with, a pound costs $30!

    • Costco has been selling both fresh and fresh-frozen wild sockeyes for the last several years at approximately $10/lb (two fillets per package with even the pinbones removed).
      Granted fresh king salmon are closer to $20/lb but kings have been scarce lately. Similarly, fresh halibut are getting close to $20/lb making these two species the real cadillac of fresh fish. If one doesn’t have the ability to catch their own, these prices (while seemingly expensive) are probably much less than what it takes to maintain a boat and gear. The product is healthy and delicious.

      • Not everyone belongs to Costco. In the market area, I’m most familiar with, on sale, fresh sockeye is $10 plus a pound and king is $30. There’s no halibut for sale. High prices deter many buyers.

  8. Commercial fishing for wild salmon is not going to be profitable in ten years if the trend continues. Land based fish farming is taking over. Copper River reds and Kings have a niche, Cook Inlet has fantastic quality fish. It’s sad but the land based fish farms are now in fact producing very good quality product.

  9. Hey Craig, did you not hear the news out of the Washington State legislature and the bill that the Governor signed into law?
    Fish farms are done in Puget Sound! Out by 2020. Do you ever read the Seattle Times? or just rag about ADN?
    Fish farms on land? Fish eating their own feces, is not the type of food, I am looking for. I do not care, how many filters they are using, not my cup of tea.
    Have you been to Costco in Anchorage lately?
    What seafood are they selling?
    Thank goodness spring is here, and the wild salmon are getting ready to return to all the Alaskan river & streams, they migrated out of. Glory be to nature.
    I bet you thrive on GMOs.

    • James: try finding a wild stock salmon filet in any of the lower 48 Costcos or in any market or restaurant. It would be rare indeed to find any. Maybe you don’t care for farm fish. But that is hardly relevant to the future of wild fish as they are currently managed by the State. The way the State is managing wild salmon primarily for commercial Harvest is not utilizing the benefits of the resource for the maximum benefit of Alaskans. And that is a constitutional mandate.
      You Might have made sense in a way, but your bashing of Medred and not so vague insults took all credibility away from your comments.

      • My comments concerning Craig’s writing agenda, is from reading his Alaskan outdoor views, since he worked for the ADN. He has always had an anti-commercial bias, in the majority of his articles over the years, and it continues to this day. The ADF&G is doing a good job in the sustainability of our wild Alaskan fish stocks, contrary to many so-called fish pundits, Craig included.
        At least I use my real name, and not hide behind a fake persona.
        What is your real name?
        How is that working for you now?

      • actually, James, Craig has a pro-Alaska bias. he doesn’t really give a shit who catches the fish. what he cares about is that Alaska has an economy because he’s spent too much time in parts of Alaska where people have no work. unemployment makes for dysfunctional communities.
        if Alaska political leaders ignore the reality of how the global salmon markets are changing, Alaska will pay the price.
        in fact, in some cases, Alaskans already are paying the price. sending more and more fish to China or North Korea to be processed undercuts rural communities that still have processing plants even if it just means fewer seasonal works arriving for the season because the money spent to house and supports those seasonals ripples through those small communities on a year-round basis.
        you might not care because you have a limited entry permit, and you’re 68-years-old, and you can string the old-game out until you’re forced by age to stop fishing.
        i understand, and that’s fine.
        but i’d rather see an Alaska looking for a way to support future generations than one trying to go ‘North to 1812.” the Neanderthals tried that 40,000 years ago. it didn’t work too good.

    • The Legislature and Governor got it wrong. Science is behind and supports Atlantic Salmon Net Pen Farming. The story is not over as we shall see if net pen farming comes to an end as there are still many levels to fight back against the enacted legislation. Atlantic Net Pen Farms are not leading to the demise of wild salmon stocks. Contamination via storm water runoff, failed septic systems, global warming, urban expansion into spawning grounds, plastic pollution and several other human actions are what is bringing down wild salmon stocks. Don’t forget that hatchery fish that are in place to support commercial fisheries have a far greater negative impact on wild salmon stocks than Atlantic Net Pens ever could. If forced to do so most likely we could see land-based farms in Washington State depending on how some of these large upstarts do.

      • Todd: there is little doubt that Alaska’s annual spill of 1.5 billion salmon fry and smolts has potential implications for wild salmon that are unknown and have gone unstudied. those fish form a wall of hungry little mouths that move north on the Alaska Coastal Current before heading west.
        it would be nice to know when they arrive off the mouth of Cook Inlet. what they are eating there. how much of a food supply there is. and whether they are competing and, if so how much, with out-migrant fry and smolt from the Inlet.
        if any other industry was engaging in a dump of organic matter of this size in the North Pacific (forgetting that these fry and smolt aren’t just organic matter but predators with the implications of such), an EIS would be required. but somehow the hatcher programs have avoided even a cursory look at ecological interactions.
        what little work that has been done has focused on wild-hatchery interactions in inshore waters of PWS and SE. particularly in the case of PWS, it would be nice to know what happens when all of those little fish get out of the Sound.
        it could be good for other fisheries; they could become food for coho and chinook smolt emerging from the Inlet. it could be bad; they could eliminate prey normally eaten by salmon fry and smolt coming out of the Inlet. or it could be a wash; they have no net effect on the ecosystem.
        whichever the case, it would be nice to know.

      • Craig, add to that 1.5 billion fry we release about 2 billion released by Japan (mostly chum). Could become a problem for open ocean feeding but we don’t know, yet. Here is reference to ongoing study looking into several things about ranching of salmon.
        I know that some of our fry in Southeast are being eaten by humpbacks that are returning every year when some hatcheries are scheduled to release. Causing big problems for them.

    • James.
      I never said that the Dept is not doing a good job with sustainability. There are lots of salmon. They are doing a pretty good job. I am talking about allocation that benefits the state.
      And not sure what using your real name vs not, has to do with the issues being discussed. What is your point other than to cause a distraction from a legitimate examination of the issues?

    • James: i’m sure there’s some point there. i’m clueless as to what it is.
      i prefer my fish wild and my telecommunications by landline. but that doesn’t mean i can stick my head in the sand and ignore what’s happening in the world.
      ocean pens for fish farming are done in Washington state. it is entirely possible land-based operations pop there and elsewhere in the future.
      if Superior Fresh succeeds, i would expect Skagit Fresh won’t be far behind, and Willamette Fresh after that and etc., etc., etc.
      it’s impossible to stop technological innovation. you might be able to stall it at times, but it’s been rolling over barriers since the wheel was first invented, and that evolution is never going to stop.
      and, for better or worse, what happens in the rest of the world affects us here in Alaska.

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