In the Feb. 22 paper, Patrick McGonegal argued that "fish farming is the future of the fishing industry." In his comments, McGonegal stated that Alaska is already far behind the rest of the world in fish farming technology, and instead of embracing a new form of the industry, "Alaskans are sticking their heads in the sand," snubbing the possibilities of greater wealth. His realistic view on farm-raised fish makes perfect business sense and resonates well with today's prominent capitalistic society. Yet the premise of his argument chafes against the idealistic view point of Alaska as "the last frontier."
As a developing state, one that has a great abundance of natural resources and a smaller infrastructure, we have the opportunity to do things differently, the opportunity and possibility of trying to live as idealistically as we can. I am always in support of anyone that strives to live the way they want to versus they way they have to. There are certain things that will always be more important to me than the money I make. The internal drive to fish and hunt is a feeling that still exists within many of us, many who choose to live in Alaska. To many Alaskans, commercial fishing is more than just a job, but a way of life, a piece of antiquity that personifies what life in Alaska is.
McGonegal asks, "How long will it be before fish farmers produce a product that meets or exceeds the quality of a wild caught fish? Five years, ten years?"
The idea that man could raise a fish that exceeds the quality of a wild fish is a farce. The body of a wild salmon has been sculpted, through a multitude of natural forces, over millions of years. The shape of the tail and the power of olfactory senses were perfected through the hand of a perfect God. Man, an imperfect being, could never match that.
Alaska fisherman have a right to preserve their way of life. I value their harvesting of naturally migrating fish. For a fish that does not migrate from fresh water to the sea is not a salmon, but an amalgam of sorts. Eating farm-raised fish is like eating imitation ice cream; given the opportunity I'd choose the real thing every time. A million Ben & Jerry's fans can't be wrong.