ALASKA hatcheries’ impact “remained unexplored for years, despite numerous calls from experts” & MSC (Sept. 2012)

First posted 07.09.2012

A three-year study by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game [ADF&G] released in 2010, revealed much more widespread mixing, with up to 98% of hatchery fish in wild-stock streams. The question of the genetic impact of such a blend and potential interbreeding, however, remained unexplored for years, despite numerous calls from experts and the Marine Stewardship Council.” – The Cordova Times / Alaska Dispatch yesterday in ‘Probing the link between wild, hatchery salmon in Prince William Sound’.

Didn’t the Cordova Mayor Jim Kallander, say (April 2011) that “Aquaculture continues to drive the state’s economy”… This is noteworthy because little is being said in Alaska about the true extent /importance of aquaculture in maintaining – via hatcheries – commercial & sport salmon fisheries at their current ‘sustainable’ levels. ‘Salmon farming’ – and implicitly aquaculture – may indeed be negatively connoted in Alaska, but the ADF&G itself wrote in May 2012 that “While policies and management strategies have been implemented to reduce risk to wild stocks, the scale of the Alaska enhancement programs makes it likely that wild stocks will be impacted by enhanced fish to some degree.”

The ‘calls’ from the MSC referred to in the above article yesterday were part of the reason why the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute (ASMI) – whose members process ~75% of Alaska so-called ‘wild’ salmon – decided to pull out from the MSC certification programme as of October 2012, as ASMI told us.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch also told SeafoodIntelligence that it will soon specifically assess hatchery-augmented salmon fisheries (& “will look at hatchery impacts more explicitly than in existing assessments”). 54 million+ hatchery-produced fish are projected to return to Alaska in 2012 [12.5% more than in 2011].

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