Jes Hathaway is the editor in chief of National Fisherman magazine and NationalFisherman.com.
Thursday, 21 July 2011
This week fishermen in and around Alaska's Kenai Peninsula are scrambling to catch what the Alaska Dispatch referred to as a mushroom cloud of sockeye salmon.
Southeast seiners are hauling in pinks, as projected.
Last year's record return of 34 million sockeye to the once-beleaguered Fraser River had everyone scratching their heads and then whipping out their nets.
That return is expected to be about 3 million this year, but its collapse has long been theorized to be related to nearby salmon farms.
So why the rush to boost finfish aquaculture?
There's a commonly touted misconception that the more people eat wild stocks, the more pressure we will put on those stocks and the more quickly they will collapse.
But in well-managed fisheries, market demand does not increase biomass and, therefore, does not increase fishing effort.
What we should focus on is minimizing bycatch, allowing fishermen to land their reduced bycatch, maximizing onboard processing so we can eat wild fish in and out of season, and marketing so-called trash fish.
I don't think wild fish is likely to fill the gap that imported seafood fills now, but it could go a long way toward feeding our citizens with our own healthy, wild seafood while simultaneously boosting port communities by securing infrastructure and jobs.
We've seen what can happen when the federal government gets behind a program like catch shares. Now let's see them get behind a movement to feed America with the best we have to offer.
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