Scientists say billions of hatchery-reared salmon released into the ocean each year are a threat to remaining wild salmon stocks.
From this story in the Vancouver Sun:
_Wild salmon stocks in the north Pacific are being eroded as the fish are forced to compete for food and shrinking habitat with billions of hatchery fish released in to the oceans each year, a new study by scientists in B.C. and Washington state says. This warning comes as the population of sockeye, pink and chum salmon across the Pacific Rim is higher than it has been in many decades._
“The total number of salmon out there is at an all-time high, in fact, the abundance is about double what it was in the 1950s,” said Randall Peterman, a fisheries management scientist at Simon Fraser University and a co-author of the newly published study.
_But releasing large numbers of hatchery fish to supply a food fishery is harmful to the natural salmon populations, he said. “Hatchery fish have been causing deterioration in the wild population for some time.” The authors of the study, published in the peer-reviewed journal Marine and Coastal Fisheries: Dynamic Management and Ecosystem Science, are calling for the creation of an international forum to regulate the production of hatchery fish. “The fact is that hatchery fish from one nation can influence the health of salmon stocks in another nation,” Peterman said. Hatchery output, particularly in Alaska and Japan, has reached about five billion fish a year and continues to climb, creating a triple threat for wild stocks. Faced with increased competition for food, wild salmon return to their spawning grounds underweight and less able to spawn successfully.
So, is a salmon is a salmon is a salmon, or is there an intrinsic worth in saving what few truly wild fish are left?