This infuriates me. I once thought that using pacific species instead was a better option but that was before I spoke with atlantic salmon anglers and found out how equally unfuriated they were about the pen-raised biologically engineered clones showing up in their streams. I now know that the 30 year Norwegian brood has evolved to a domestic state that allows them to be raised as mules would (verses wild horses).
I am not entirely against aquaculture, even if a typical farm does produce as much effluent as a population of 40,000 people, even if the use of chemically induced color, flavor and resistance to disease is rampant, even if the pens are a form of cruelty to a fish that would otherwise travel thousands of open ocean miles.
I am however adamantly against the current practices which result in hundreds of thousands of escapees a year; and the lack of regulations and penalties to keep these businesses in check.
What strategies and actions can we actually take on this issue?
This is a pretty hot topic out here in the PNW right now!
Atlantic Salmon are compared to everything from Green Crabs to Starlings to emphasize their potentially harmful ecological impact.
The disease factor is of the most concern, and after that the challenges to habitat and the limited forage in our West Slope rivers for salmon and steelhead smolt migrating out to the salt.
The most amazing thing I discovered in my readings is that the WDFW apparently made a concerted effort in the 80's to establish a self-sustaining run of Atlantics on the Green River. They failed, and blamed it in part on the differing Pacific/Atlantic ocean conditions that the Atlantics faced.
What to do??? I'm not sure - as many have suggested, fish farming is the currently the best alternative to the indiscriminate commercial nets for a fish-hungry public. But when does the price become too high?? I'll have to agree with Juro on this one - allow fish farms, but regulate them much more closely/strictly than is currently being done.
Unfortunately, so are escaped Atlantics! Here in BC we too have the vexing problem of virtually unregulated salmon farming. The real problem is that farmed salmon is now BC's leading agricultural export (at least the leading LEGAL one!) and our Government is falling over backward to accommodate this new cash cow. Like Juro, I don't automatically see aquaculture as bad, it is the total lack of regulation that is dangerous. I think I'd take my chances with salmon farming and NO nets - but alas, that is not going to happen (at least not soon enough). So how do we put pressure on governments to regulate the industry? I do know that some health organizations have real concerns over hormones given to farm fish , as well as the extensive and undeclared use of antibiotics to counter desease in the pens. Do we call in - gulp, shudder - Greenpeace? I don't know. As well, I think the inability of sports fishermen to decide if salmon farming is good or bad is paralyzing any organized voice to call for regulations.
In the mean time I guess I'll just go fishing, who knows maybe I'll catch an Atlantic - I hear they pull okay...