SkeenaWild Cautions against increasing hatchery output

coho salmon - gen - 1

A Terrace-based conservation group says the answer to the current west-coast salmon crisis is not necessarily introducing more hatchery-bred fish into the system.

The SkeenaWild Conservation Trust screened a film called "Artifishal" Tuesday night at the Sherwood Mountain Brewhouse in Terrace and will screen it again in Smithers Thursday night at the Smithers Brewing Company.

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Executive director Greg Knox says the film demonstrates the perils involved in pumping millions, and possibly billions, of hatchery salmon into the North Pacific Ocean.

He says phenomena, such as the so-called "Blob" of warmer-than-average water covering a vast area of the ocean, are resulting in limited food available to wild salmon. 

"And so, if we're talking about increasing hatchery production, putting a lot more fish out there through hatcheries, we're talking about increasing competition with our wild fish, and we already know there's a lot of scientific evidence to suggest that the North Pacific is at caring capacity, it can't support any more salmon, and with this warm water, it really means that we should actually be looking at potentially scaling back the amount of hatchery fish we're putting out there, not adding more into the North Pacific," he explained.

Knox says, unfortunately, there are no quick fixes to the salmon crisis.

He says the first thing governments need to do is change the way they manage fisheries, with new assessment tools to get a better handle on what's coming back in season.

They also need to develop more adaptable fishing plans so that weak stocks are avoided while fishermen can still have an opportunity to fish more abundant stocks.