Rise of Salmo Domesticus and the decline of Wild Chinook

Home Forums Due September 3 by 11:59 pm Rise of Salmo Domesticus and the decline of Wild Chinook

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    Ron Sheldon

    At first glance it seems that the rise of salmo domesticus, or farmed salmon, couldn’t possibly be related to the decline in wild Chinook salmon returns. First let’s make sure our wording is correct. The phrase is related and not linked. After all, these farmed fish aren’t competing for food with the wild stocks. Or are they?

    In a way they are both related and linked. Fish farms require commercial feed to raise salmon. That food comes from the ocean. The same place that wild Chinook are growing and feeding. It is a fact that farmed salmon convert food better than their wild cousins. They require only about half the food that wild fish do. So, if we take this into account it would be safe to assume that you could raise twice the amount of farmed fish as wild on the same amount of food. But remember, that food comes from the ocean. Once removed, that amount of the food biomass is not available for the wild fish to eat.

    Additionally, farmed salmon has become the norm. The majority of salmon purchased around the globe comes from salmon farms. As the rearing processes become more refined the price per pound goes down. This makes farmed salmon more and more attractive to consumers, so they consume more. As this consumption continues to rise the amount of food needed to raise those fish also rises. And where does that food come from? The same place that the Chinook salmon, along with other fishes, are living and searching for food. In my opinion we see the impact most in Chinook because they are such prolific eaters. They are the largest salmon for a reason. They eat a lot.

    Last, an area where these two issues are related and not linked. The market. The market for wild salmon has diminished over the years. Mainly because of seasonality and cost. With this decline in demand there could be a link to how outsiders see the magnitude of the problem. Unlike the Yupik natives of the Yukon river who depend on these returns to feed their families truly understand the magnitude of the declining returns.

    Kyleigh McArthur

    You raise a good point, I hadn’t thought of the idea of the “competition” for food. To take food from the ocean for farmed fish is taking it from salmon themselves, but isn’t that what fishermen are already doing? Herring season is huge, there are boats everywhere trying to catch as many herring as possible, but herring is also a food source for salmon. I can see how this is a problem, and it’s interesting to think about especially because the though never crossed my mind.

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