environmentally sound, giving consumers assurance they are buying seafood from a
responsibly managed fishery.
MSC certification labels appear on fresh, frozen and canned fish. No stranger
to controversy, the council sparked outrage last year when it awarded
certification to B.C. sockeye salmon, including the troubled Fraser River
MSC gave 16 Alaskan salmon fisheries blanket certification in 2000, which
remains the commission's largest and most complex of the 133 fisheries it
certifies. But 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 recertification remained unfulfilled.
"Alaskan ocean ranching and hatchery operations release billions of
farm-raised fish into natural eco-systems and wild salmon populations," said
Aaron Hill, a biologist with the Watershed Watch Salmon Society. "There is
increasing scientific concern about the effect that flooding the North Pacific
with these fish is having on wild salmon populations."
Alarm bells about the practice of ocean ranching began ringing as soon as the
Alaskan fishery was certified more than 10 years ago. A 2001 report by the
Environment and Natural Resources Institute at the University of Alaska
Anchorage bluntly warned that the practice could jeopardize the state's own wild
Ocean-ranched fish are hatched and reared in fresh water and then raised in
ocean-based net pens where they are fed and protected from predation to gain
size and strength before being released into the wild.
"These fish compete for the same food resources as wild salmon in the open
ocean," said Hill. "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."
Ocean-ranched salmon could damage wild stocks by out-competing them for food
and by mixing with spawning populations, Hill said.
The release of the groups' concerns about the Alaskan fisheries is timed to
coincide with this week's scheduled meetings in Portland of the Pacific Salmon
Commission, the body that manages the Pacific Salmon Treaty between Canada and
the United States.
The groups are also concerned that indiscriminate Alaskan fisheries are
intercepting sockeye and chum bound for B.C. Skeena and Nass Rivers and called
on the Canadian government to do more to protect at-risk salmon stocks at the
The treaty is meant to ensure that both countries receive benefits equal to
the production of salmon in their waters and to limit interception
Calls to the MSC were not returned by press time.
Read more: http://www.vancouversun.com/business/wild+salmon+threatened+Alaskan+practices+conservation+groups/5979966/story.html#ixzz1jG3xUnFy