Northwest Fisheries Science Center

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Document Type: Chapter or Section
Center: NWFSC
Document ID: 7340
Type of Book: Technical
Section or Chapter Title: Perspectives of North Pacific salmon sea ranching
Book Title: Proceedings of the Second International Fish Farming Conference, 22-24 March 1983, London
Author: Conrad V. W. Mahnken, David M. Damkaer, V. G. Wespestad
Publication Year: 1983
Pages: 186-216

Public sea ranches have existed in most Pacific rim nations since the late 1800s.  In the 1970s, private sea ranches were permitted in some coastal regions of North America (California, Oregon, Alaska).  These private sea ranches added substantially to the salmon migrants already being released by public hatcheries in Japan, USSR, USA, and Canada.

Private sea ranching was initially seen as a way to offset the high cost of public hatcheries and to provide fish to the common property fishery, as welI as to private sea ranchers.  However, social, institutional, and biological roadblocks constrain the development of these systems in North America.  Paradoxically, some fishermen fear the political power of large corporate sea ranchers and have opposed further development.  Over-optimism by corporate planners, combined with perceived biological constraints of the freshwater/marine ecosystems have also slowed development of private sea ranching.

This paper examines the status of sea ranching in the context of massive salmon releases now made from public hatcheries.  Topics include:  historical salmon harvest and the recent dependence on releases from public hatcheries and sea ranches; the possible harmful interaction of wild and hatchery fish; and the perceived problems of ocean carrying capacity.