Could Alaskan ocean-ranched fisheries be impacting BC wild salmon?

Canadian conservationists suggest that salmon ranching in Alaska is having a negative impact on BC wild salmon stocks. They are recommending that the MSC program re-cosnider Alaska’s certification, as the groups do not believe the Alaskan fisheries are adequately fulfilling their certification requirements.

Ocean-ranched fish are first reared in freshwater after hatching, then they are raised in net pens in the ocean where they are protected from their predators. This allows for high survival rates. When they are released into the wild, they end up competing for the same food with the wild stocks of salmon.

Aaron Hill, a biologist with the Water-shed Watch Salmon Society states, “Between Japan, Alaska, Canada and Russia more than five billion hatchery fish are released into the North Pacific and it’s getting to be a real concern.”

Conservation groups like Raincoast Conservation Foundation, SkeenaWild Conservation Trust and Watershed Watch Salmon Society are raising questions about the MSC certifiability of the Alaskan ocean-ranched fish.

[…] the MSC’s own surveillance report on the Alaskan fisheries noted concerns about the effects that the release of billions of hatchery fish into the ocean could be having on wild salmon stocks.

In all, the 2011 surveillance report noted that 19 conditions of the fishery’s re-certification remained unfulfilled.

MSC spokesman, Mike DeC-esare, argues that every five years a MSC certified fishery is re-evaluated and in many cases it is common to have conditions identified as still “open” during an audit.

The slow progress on the Alaskan fishery’s unfulfilled conditions, which could be damaging the BC wild stocks, are what concern conservationists most. [Read full article].

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