Rise of Domestic Salmon, Decline of Wild Salmon

Home Forums Due September 3 by 11:59 pm Rise of Domestic Salmon, Decline of Wild Salmon

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    Though it may seem counterintuitive to claim that decreases in wild Chinook runs are related to the rise of Salmo domesticus, there are a few factors that contribute to the inverse relationship. Farmed fish still need to eat, and they eat the same thing that wild salmon do: fish. Since we still haven’t been able to create an alternative protein source, fish farms rely on prey fish harvested from the ocean. This is an issue because it causes competition for wild salmon who feed on those same fish. A rise in domestic salmon would thus cause a decrease in wild salmon populations. Many fish farms implement open water pens, where farmed fish are kept in pens that are in the ocean. Occasionally these farmed salmon escape, and breed with wild salmon which causes breeding competition for other wild individuals. Hybrid salmon have weaker ties to their home rivers, so the occurrence of hybrid salmon ultimately decreases the wild population since the hybrids are less likely to be able to make their way back to the river to spawn.
    Through domesticated salmon, wild salmon can be exposed to different diseases that they may not otherwise encounter in the wild. This can have a major impact on wild salmon populations because it can wipe out large portions that are exposed to the disease.
    The fact that we need to farm fish to meet the world’s demand signals to me that wild fisheries are unhealthy. Instead of focusing so much effort on increasing the productivity of farmed fish, it would make more sense to me to try to rebuild wild stocks so that they can be healthy and productive into the future. Humans are not the only species that rely on salmon for food, and it’s easy to fall into the thought pattern that we are the only predators that matter.

    Isabella Erickson

    I agree that we should shift our attention from farmed fish to conserving and supporting wild salmon, if only because it is a far more sustainable solution. I also think that you make a good point about salmon being important to other predators. The captain of the boat that I fished on this summer talked about how he used to see boats in a neighboring fishery pull in nets loaded with jacks, immature Chinooks, and how that must have hurt the killer whales that feed on Chinooks.


    I agree that we need to focus more on wild fish stocks. I think considering the fish we are currently using as food for captive salmon as a potential food source for humans could take the pressure off of wild salmon.


    I agree that we need to focus on helping salmon be more successful as a species, rather than turn all of our attention to breeding. However, we’ve also started genetically engineering other foods because there isn’t enough to feed our growing population. I think if the domestic breeding of salmon hadn’t happened yet it would be inevitable anyway since it’s such a commonly eaten fish, despite that I don’t necessarily agree with it.


    You make a good point about farmed fish eating from the same food source as wild salmon that I didn’t think to include in my post. Considering this, it really makes me think that we need to stop trying to get these farmed fish to grow more quickly and efficiently and try to focus on wild salmon stocks until they are healthy enough to be fished more.

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Fish and Fisheries in a Changing World