Contributed By:

Vivian McInerny

Fishing for Answers

OPB | May 7, 2010 9 a.m. | Updated: Sept. 10, 2013 9:23 p.m.

Salmon is sacred to some tribes. It’s a vital business to commercial fisherman.  It’s a wildlife management issue for government agencies, a fish in need of protection to environmentalists, and an infinitely complex species to scientists. All these groups have an interest in seeing a healthy population of salmon but what’s the best way to accomplish that goal?

Most salmon eaten today comes from hatcheries. 

Is hatchery fishing a good thing or not? Proponents, including several native tribes, say hatcheries help strengthen the salmon population. But some scientists and environmentalists argue that hatcheries breed a kind of “super salmon” that behaves differently from wild salmon and actually threatens the wild fish.

Early efforts to improve salmon run by changing logging practices underscored some of the complexities of tampering with nature. How will hatcheries be viewed in 20 years time?

Are you a commercial fisherman? Do you fish for fun? Do you specifically ask for wild salmon in restaurants and stores? Can you taste the difference between wild and hatchery fish?

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