Why Our Wild

Adelia picking a coho, late evening, early September.

Adelia picking a coho, late evening, early September.

One of the parts of this business that brings us great satisfaction (aside from catching our fish straight from the magnificent Pacific Ocean) is sharing the good news of the health of our wild Alaskan salmon stocks. It’s an honor to be ambassadors for our state’s salmon, and we thought we’d take a moment to put in writing a couple of the things we talk about with people on an almost a daily basis.

We can’t help but be proud of our state’s fisheries management policies, which are considered to be THE worldwide model for making fisheries sustainable for future generations. Here’s the basic overview: the wild salmon, after having grown to adulthood in the ocean, return to their natal rivers to press upstream to spawn. They are counted individually as they pass through the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s weirs and no one is allowed to fish until the biologically determined numbers needed to ensure future run strength have been counted upstream. Our state’s fishery isn’t run on a supply and demand type of deal – even if people clamor for more salmon, we wouldn’t be allowed to just go catch more. Instead, management is based on sustainability for the future, which is why our salmon are certified as sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council.

That begs the question, though – if worldwide demand for salmon increases, wouldn’t it be good for wild salmon stocks to take the pressure off them by eating farmed salmon instead? The answer, emphatically, is NO! Recently we read a great article on this topic, which we highly recommend to anyone interested in salmon – you can find it here. The take-away is that eating farmed salmon only increases overfishing of the smaller fish that are used to create feed, thereby disrupting the whole ocean ecosystem, while contributing to disease, pollution and potential competition with wild fish for habitat and feed. On the other hand, wild Alaska salmon are managed for sustainability, and eating them supports the whole fishery and its world-class management system.

One other question we address is how to tell if a salmon is wild or not. The beautiful thing is that every single Alaska salmon is wild – no salmon farms are allowed in Alaska, by law. If you see Alaska on the label, you’re in good shape. Atlantic salmon – from any coast – is all farmed. What little wild salmon is left in that ocean is very protected and not available for commercial catching. There are no wild salmon runs in Chile and Antarctica – that’s all farmed, and to boot ruining their pristine and delicate ecosystems. Read about how to make sure your salmon is wild here. Knowing your fishermen is the best way to be certain that you’re getting wild Alaskan salmon!

Thanks for the good questions – keep them coming! Thanks for reading, and thanks for eating!

-Adelia and Tollef

Adelia Myrick