Fish farms, foreign markets

Posted: Wednesday, July 24, 2002

The commercial salmon fishing industry is society's only food staple that remains wild. This year, salmon farms have flooded the market and severely undercut prices. Many independent fishers are now working not for profit but in hopes of making their boat payments. If this continues, what we now call seafood may become domesticated. That means the salmon we eat in the future will be harvested in swimming pools instead of the open ocean.

There are many strategies for commercial fishers to compete with farmed salmon. As most of these farms are located in foreign countries, tariffs for imported salmon could be raised. Another is stockpiling salmon for the offseason to counter the farms' competitive edge. These tactics would do more harm than good. Such retaliatory measures antagonize foreign affairs by disrupting foreign business. Also, they would drive farm salmon toward markets outside the United States.

To preserve the commercial fishing industry the market must expand. This would increase demand and raise prices. Presently our relations with China and Russia are unprecedented. These two countries alone possess populations that could support any industry. Also, there is no better means to maintain foreign ties than through commerce.

Salmon fishing in the United States supports the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of people and is a vital revenue for Alaska and the Northwestern states. Developing foreign markets for Alaska salmon would not only salvage an industry but ensure its continuing prosperity.

Garrett Robinson


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