NANFA-- Atlantic Salmon caught in Alaska

Jay DeLong (
Mon, 28 Aug 2000 12:42:34 -0700

Also see
for a good article dealing with a researcher's documentation of the
occurrence of Atlantics in BC.


The Associated Press

(Published August 27, 2000)
Ketchikan -- Commercial fishermen in Southeast Alaska have caught more than
20 Atlantic salmon, raising concerns that the farmed salmon will spread
disease to wild species.

All the Atlantic salmon were caught south of Ketchikan, some in the Tree
Point area, said Phil Doherty, an Alaska Department of Fish and Game
biologist for commercial fishing.

"This is a real problem," Doherty said, pointing to the six, 10- to 12-pound
Atlantic salmon spread out in the conference room Friday at Ketchikan's Fish
and Game office.

Not only are the Atlantic salmon a threat to Pacific salmon because of
competition for food in the open ocean, but they also carry a threat of

"The big problems are the diseases that these imported fish bring; from
viruses to external parasites," he said.

Two weeks ago, more than 35,000 farmed Atlantic salmon escaped from a pen in
Johnstone Strait, off the northern tip of Vancouver Island.

"Whether they are a part of the 35,000 that spilled out of that farm a few
days ago, I don't know," Doherty said. "It seems like a lot of water to
cover in such a short time, but they are showing up in Southeast [Alaska]."

It was once believed that Atlantic salmon would not venture into freshwater,
but several pen-reared salmon have been found in freshwater streams. In
1998, an Atlantic salmon was recovered north of Ketchikan at Ward Creek. The
Atlantic salmon was sexually mature and had a mate that eluded capture.

"If there's one here and there are thousands of freshwater streams in
Southeast Alaska, it's very likely there are more in some of those streams,"
Doherty said.

Unlike traditional hatcheries where the fish are released to grow in the
seas, farmed Atlantic salmon are supposed to spend their entire life in

Atlantic salmon, which resemble steelhead trout, stay alive after spawning,
unlike Pacific salmon, Doherty said.

Expansion of British Columbia's fish farm industry has been halted since
1995 when a moratorium was established. Doherty said Fish and Game hopes
that the moratorium is not lifted.

"We don't want to see fish farms as close as Prince Rupert [British
Columbia]," he said.

Jay DeLong
Olympia, WA

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