The Salmo domesticus is a salmon that can grow twice as fast as that of the natural species of salmon. In Norway, breeders placed salmon in “cages” and breed them with the intention of increasing growing speed. After 14 years of breeding, they had a salmon that grew twice as fast as the original stock. The productivity of this salmon led to the development of an international industry as Norway did business with Chile and there are now salmon there.
This fish is a curse.
When it escapes from the farms it wreaks havoc on local wild fish populations by competing for resources. When it comes to survival for the sake of reproduction, this salmon does poorly against strong currents that its native brethren use for spawning grounds. This salmon is not native to some of the regions that it is now farmed.
There is also the issue of feeding these salmon and the waste that they produce. Many wild fish are killed to make feed for these salmon lowering the wild populations and putting undue pressures on those habitats. The waste that is left behind leaves zones of low productivity and could be considered a health risk.
The issue with this situation is that it is a global industry. There is money that can be made by farming salmon so the consequences do not matter to the industry. It is allowed by the governments because the industry is providing revenue to the economies; remember FDA’s approval of DDT pesticides which supported the agricultural industry. Even when there is some form of governmental oversight, there are usually members of the board that used to work for the large companies of that industry or later leave the oversight boards to be employed by those companies; think of the FDA’s approval of GMOs and its revolving door relationship with Monsanto.
I think that Greenberg meant that the Yupik people are so reliant on the salmon as a part of their way of life that the declining salmon populations will lead further hardships for the Yupik in the future. Assuming that my interpretation is correct, it is understandable to make such a conclusion. I think that this is one possible conclusion. While the salmon struggle so do the Yupik, that is true today, but it does not always have to be.
It would be a long hard road, but the Yupik can find a way to survive without the salmon, which should hopefully never be required. It is in human nature to investigate and solve problems, that is how we cover the globe and continue to do so. While some elements of the culture would change, it is possible for the Yupik to continue to record their history and find new ways of moving forward. The fall of the salmon does not necessitate the end of the Yupik people.
Of course, any change in culture would come with hardships. It is not the desire of the Yupik to lose the salmon, to lose a way of life. If all is considered lost as the salmon population declines, then the Yupik people will be lost. Their history and stories, unique only to them would no longer exist. If the Yupik ask “Where do we go from here?” then there will continue to be hope in the future. That future may hold a different way of life, but it would also be theirs to create different from the rest and entirely their own.
During his childhood, Greenberg often fished in ponds that were located on the properties where he lived. At one such property, there was a pond that held largemouth bass and served as Greenberg’s hunting grounds. After two years, the once teaming pond became barren and Greenberg had to search for more productive waters. Greenberg’s search led him from the pond, to the stream that ran from the pond, to the river that the stream flowed into, all the way to the ocean, where he set upon as his new fishing grounds gaining much knowledge of the yearly movements of fish.
I can think of no similar or profound experiences that have sent me on a search for knowledge.
When Greenberg was young and had first encountered the ocean, he would have likely rated the fish stocks as a 1. This rating would have been fueled by childhood wonder of and the period in time which he was fishing. As he became an adult and the childhood wonder had faded, Greenberg would have scaled global fish stocks as anywhere from a 5-10. This significantly worse rating would come from the shock as to how drastically the fishing seasons had changed and how reduced the numbers had become since the time of fishing in his youth.
By the end of the book, I believe that Greenberg will become more pessimistic compared to how he started. As his investigation progresses, Greenberg will gain a wealth of knowledge about the situation happening with global fish stocks. However, that knowledge can only be considered useful if he can convince people to take action to change the situation.