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  • Salmon Farming

    Since I've been following most of the recent biological/political discussions about the Kenai I have another salmon issue I'd like some opinions on.

    Info from F&G shows that in 2004 812 million salmon were released into PWS. Those salmon are eating food. Something else used to eat that food. What critters out there are going hungry because the salmon are getting their food. I've never seen this discussed.

  • #2
    I don't know that there are critters that are going hungry because of that. Besides, not all the salmon that are released end up surviving, and many become food themselves.

    Comment


    • #3
      It is certainly true that the vast majority of the salmon released don't survive to maturity. However, for the many millions that do survive, when they eat a krill or herring, what would have happened to that krill or herring if the salmon hadn't eaten it? Something else would have eaten it, right? Even if that krill died of old age and sank to the bottom it would have been eaten by something on the bottom. Does anyone out there think that you can remove many millions of pounds (if not tons) of food that is shared by all the ecosystem and not have consequences. I'm not trying to condemn salmon hatcheries, I've just never heard anyone discuss the effects that these hatchery fish have on the environment. Alaska is always quick to list all the evils of salmon farming in cages, but they never discuss the effects of free range salmon ranching on the rest of the environment.

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      • #4
        Studies

        I'm sure there have been many studies on this subject. Because I don't have anything but guesses to your questions at this point, I'm going to bow out and we'll see if someone else cares to respond.

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        • #5
          Salmon Hatcheries

          I've boated in PWS since 1981, before the hatcheries arrived. Shrimping and crabbing have both declined and I don't blame the ExxonValdez (Spots are back but where are the Coonstripe, Sidestripe shrimp and Dungies, King and Tanner crab?). The hatcheries started releasing millions of pink fry and they release the fry at the peak of the plankton bloom, which is what the shrimp and crab larvae eat while in the upper water column before they drop to the bottom. Guess what? They eat all that plankton the shrimp and crab relied on. Hell of a trade, pinks that wind up on the bottom of the sound for lack of market for shrimp and crab. I've spoken to F&G about this and the person I talked to seemed to recognize my theory but didn't care.

          Thanks for the opportunity to vent.

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          • #6
            I can't say that I dissagree with anyone thus far, but I am wondering how much a trade off there has been with food. It seems as though fry and spawned out salmon also provide food for shrimp, crab, halibut, etc. Just a thought. Personally I would love to drop a couple crab pots.

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            • #7
              Thanks for the replys, I don't know what affect the ranched salmon have but the general opinion seems to be that all of these salmon come without a cost, I don't believe it. I certainly am not attacking these ranched salmon, they're here to stay, I'm just curious.

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              • #8
                Ranched vs. Farmed vs. Hatchery Reared

                There's a big difference here so be careful of your terms. Alaska has outlawed farmed or ranched salmon and only allow hatchery reared fry to be raised and then released to the wild. That's what PWSAQ does at all their hatcheries in the Sound.

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                • #9
                  This is a VERY SERIOUS problem

                  Bearbait,

                  Hats' off to you for introducing this topic! You are a hundred percent correct that this is a ticking time bomb waiting to go off. We are systematically killing off our wild stocks because we are dumping millions and millions of fish into the system that would otherwise not be there. It's not just us, either. Japan is doing the same thing.

                  An article I just read on this within the last two days talked about the perception that the north Pacific is considered by the commercial salmon rearing industry as "a huge pasture" for these fish. Well guess what? A salmon smolt released from a hatchery is roughly twice the size of a wild fish of the same age. When it comes to competing for food, who's gonna get the groceries?

                  We will rue the day when we ever thought we were smart enough to monkey around with complex ecosystems like this just so our commercial fishing industry could make a few quick bucks. I'm not slamming the folks who work hard at sea to put food on our tables, I'm simply pointing out that we are WAY overstepping our bounds. I get the drift that ADFG likes the hatcheries because they put more fish in the water for anglers. More anglers equals more fishing licenses, which is how ADFG is funded. I have no problems with ADFG either, as a whole, however this cavalier attitude toward what is truly Alaska's last frontier is going to get us in serious trouble.

                  I've written about this before, and told the story about my first conversation with a member of what was then called Prince William Sound Aquaculture Association. Their best answer to my question of whether any environmental impact studies had been done to determine the impact of these billions of extra fish might have on wild stocks was simply, "Well, y'know, the ocean is a really big place". I got the feeling I was talking to someone who had absolutely no concept of what I was saying. That concerns me deeply. Where are the intelligent thinkers who came up with this stuff? Perhaps someone out there knows someone who can post some reasonable arguments defending this practice. This is very dangerous stuff we're doing folks.

                  Personally, I'd like to see it completely stopped at least until we can really figure out the long-term implications. Before we lose our wild fish. Let's prevent the problem rather than fix it after we've broken something.

                  Please, could somebody at least give me some false hope (any hope will do) that there have been at least a study or two of this issue. Somebody please tell me that there are people in control who are making wise decisions about this, and that the money is a secondary consideration to the welfare of our environment!

                  -Mike
                  Michael Strahan
                  Site Owner
                  Alaska Hunt Consultant
                  1 (907) 229-4501

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Could it be...

                    Originally posted by Fish Witch
                    There's a big difference here so be careful of your terms. Alaska has outlawed farmed or ranched salmon and only allow hatchery reared fry to be raised and then released to the wild. That's what PWSAQ does at all their hatcheries in the Sound.
                    Right you are, about the farmed salmon. But the motives of why it has been outlawed are what concern me. I'm hearing it discussed as if escaped Atlantic Salmon have the plague and will decimate our wild stocks. In fact this year we are being asked to report any incidental catches of Atlantic Salmon; there's a fear that they will become established in Alaska. This is a very interesting point, considering that the same folks asking us to keep an eagle eye out for an Atlantic salmon or two are authorizing dumping literally millions of extra fish in the ecosystem, hatchery-raised, inoculated fish that are far stronger than our wild smolts. Doesn't make a lot of sense to me. How can we be so concerned about escaped farmed fish, while producing millions of metric tons of salmon in the public's ocean with little thought of the consequences.

                    I suspect that the impetus behind the "Atlantic salmon must die" campaign is the same one behind the "fill up the pasture with hatchery fish" efforts currently under way all over Alaska: Commercial fishing interests, and the various groups connected to it by the tentacles of money and politics. The simple truth is that the salmon fishing industry in Alaska isn't in the fish farming business, and are not going to re-tool to get into that game, so they want to kill it in order to get better prices for their product. They simply cannot compete with year-round product availability that is possible with fish farming. It's simple marketing. No, I don't think this Atlantic salmon issue has much at all to do with environmental concerns. It's about leveraging the salmon farms out of the ocean in the interest of competition. If they can prove that in even a single case, an Atlantic salmon has spawned somewhere in Alaska, they will take that to the limit to shut the farms down.

                    I've made some strong statements here, and have put myself at risk for doing so, because I have not spent a huge amount of time studying this. All I am at this point is a guy with some serious questions and concerns about what's in store for my grandkids who will be left to clean up our messes. I hope I'm way off base. Anyone is more than welcome to set me straight on this, if they have FACTS to back themselves up. The truth should prevail here.

                    -Mike
                    Michael Strahan
                    Site Owner
                    Alaska Hunt Consultant
                    1 (907) 229-4501

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      somebody please correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe that all of the salmon stocking programs that adf&g, pwsac, and ciaa do is to take the milt and roe from natural runs and raise the offspring under controlled conditions to increase the survival rate. It really isn't a "stocking program." Those that object to this program, how do you feel about the enhancement program for kasilof kings [which constitute 50% of the run]?
                      How about the caribou transplant above tustemena lake? Perhaps goats and deer should never have been transplanted to Kodiak.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Gunner, I don't know that I object to the stocking programs, I'll be in Valdez in a few weeks thoroughly enjoying the silver salmon returning to the hatchery to be slaughtered after feeding off the environment for several years (Fish Witch, that sounds awfully similar to a ranching operation to me but since "salmon ranching" is outlawed in Alaska I'll be careful and won't use that term). And you are wrong about all salmon stocking programs just enhancing native runs. How many salmon do you think used to return to spawn in the lagoon on Homer Spit before salmon were stocked in there? Salmon don't spawn in salt water. Have you ever been to the hatchery in Valdez? How many salmon do you think naturally spawned there? You are correct that most hatchery salmon are enhancing natural runs, however, it is the amount of enhancement that may be an issue. 812 million salmon were released into PWS in 2004, that's a pretty big number.
                        Does anyone out there think we are getting all these "enhanced" (not ranched) salmon at no cost? Who believes that there used to be millions of tons of food floating around in the ocean that was not utilized by other species (there are other critters in the ocean besides salmon)?
                        I don't hate salmon hatcheries. I grew up on salmon and trout hatcheries and had a great time. I just wonder what we're giving up to get the salmon.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Thanks for correcting me ,Bearbait. Of course not all of the stocking programs are just enhancing native runs. Just a case of being a little defensive. I was disappointed with the court decision to halt the kasilof enhancement program and a little defensive I guess.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            pondering insomniac

                            I hate to be an ignoramus, but if Pinks bring in 1/10 the $ for the Commercial fishermen for reds-why are so many pinks enhanced in PWS? Gunner-you made me think of other observations. Do you kow that F and G is still trying to eradicate the transplanted caribou on Kodiak-no success. "Bucket biologists" have released wild ferrel turkeys all over the Kenai (I have seen over a dozen and heard of fewer grouse). Pike have killed many Anchorage trout fisheries. What are we doing? Only time will tell.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              pinks not sockeye

                              Pinks are used in PWS because they do not require a rearing lake. Sockeye, coho, and chinook all rear for at least one year in freshwater before they go to sea. Pinks and chum salmon go out shortly after hatching. So it is easier to raise them in a hatchery and send then on their way.

                              I personally believe that history will look at the PWS pink program and some of the chum salmon programs in Southeast in a very negative light. Violations of egg take limitations and stocking levels, hatchery operation procedures, straying and other negative biological issues, use of State loan money and forgiveness of those loans will all add up on the negative side. In addition, the production out of PWS was in direct competition with natural produced pink salmon in southeast - which helped to drive down prices for both areas and create markety issues. When the hatcheries have to harvest the fish only to dump them at sea something is not right.

                              Relative to marine rearing limitations a Dr. Salo (he is no longer with us) wrote a paper on chum salmon rearing limitations in the marine systems in the 80's. He was concerned that with Japan releasing large numbers of chum and the plans for United State production the marine system would be pushed beyound it's ability to rear fish. I believe he concluded that in the 80's the system could handle the production but when the system cycled back to more normal levels the system probably would crash.

                              I have not followed up to see what others thought of his work but he spent his life studying chum salmon and was well respected in the field - he was a University of Washington, School of Fisheries, professor.

                              Personally, I believe the use of hatcheries and artificial production should be severely limited. The Northwest should have taught us that hatcheries can and are used to allow for habitat damage by those that do not think salmon are very special - we can destroy stream X and just build a hatchery - that has not worked. Second, hatchery production complicates wild stock management to varying degrees. In all situations management must adjust - the degree is the issue. Third - we tend to treat wild salmon as weeds - we can have them or not - in reality society must choose to have salmon in their environment - it takes time and money to maintain wild salmon habitat and populations. Hatcheries offer an easy out on the surface - if we lose the salmon populations we can just build a hatchery - at the decision making level in legislatures around the country this choice has failed everyone.

                              Sorry to be on a soapbox but hatchery practices in the State of Alaska are not what they should be. The formation of aquacultural associations was a poor idea and still is a poor idea. If they had formed aquacultural associations that focused on maintaining wild salmon habitat I would have said great. Cook Inlet Aquaculture does do some of that in the Susitna by removing beaver dams and conducting basic research but not enough in my humble opinion.

                              Comment

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