Hatchery Pinks and Wild Salmon Abundance

JayB

Active Member
Good article here:

I think this has been discussed before, but this is the most in-depth, up-to-date coverage that I've found. I'd seen people discuss the fact that pink salmon might be competing with other salmon for food resources, but I'd never seen reports that provided the actual magnitudes. One example is that the pink salmon harvest in Prince William Sound was around 3 million per year in the pre-hatchery era that ended in roughly 1980. Now the harvest is 45-fold higher.

"How Alaska’s ranching and management for maximum productivity is affecting the ocean ecosystem is becoming an issue attracting increasing attention as salmon runs to the south of the 49th state struggle.

Alaska and Russia have done such a good job with pink salmon that Ruggerone and Irvine estimated that about seven out of every 10 adult salmon in the ocean today are pinks, which along with getting a helping hand from hatcheries appear to enjoy a competitive advantage over other salmon in warmer water.

A team of scientists from the University of California, the University of Alaska, Canada’s McGill and Simon Fraser universities, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, and GKV & Sons, an independent consultancy this summer warned the large numbers of pinks could be harming other salmon Pacific-wide. They reported steady declines in the average sizes of Chinook, sockeye, chum and coho since the 1990s with dramatic declines in the size of Chinook and sockeye starting in about 2000."
 

Hookset

WFF Supporter
Pinks are relatively easy to raise. The issue of having too many mouths to feed coupled with ocean warming I believe is causing reduced ocean survival for other salmon species. But I don’t this this only affects Alaska salmon runs but all other salmon using the North Pacific as feeding grounds.
 

CreekScrambler

Active Member
It never ceases to amaze me that the ocean is still treated as an infinite resource despite our obvious discovery of its finite nature. At its limits, nature is basically a zero-sum game, where one living thing exists at the expense of another. Where is the demand such that 7/10 of all salmon are pinks? Didn't chums used to hold the biomass advantage?
 

Hookset

WFF Supporter
It never ceases to amaze me that the ocean is still treated as an infinite resource despite our obvious discovery of its finite nature. At its limits, nature is basically a zero-sum game, where one living thing exists at the expense of another. Where is the demand such that 7/10 of all salmon are pinks? Didn't chums used to hold the biomass advantage?
Pinks have always been that greatest wild salmon biomass. Next is sockeye followed by chum, coho and kings, in that order.

Unfortunately, pink salmon are easy to raise and require no time in stream after hatching. Other salmon have different cycles after hatching including staying in the natal stream for months prior to heading to sea.

If they could raise sockeye, coho or kings with the same efficiency, they would. These red fleshed fish have greater commercial value. But alas, the focus is on the easiest path.
 

CreekScrambler

Active Member
Ah thanks for that. For some reason I thought that chum biomass rivaled or possibly exceeded pink biomass due to the sheer size difference in the adults. Turns out that chums aren't that far behind. Obviously far lesser abundance, but the biomass gap isn't all that big in the period mentioned here:


Following an initial peak during 1934–1943, abundances were low until the 1977 regime shift benefited each species. During 1990–2015, Pink Salmon dominated adult abundance (67% of total) and biomass (48%), followed by Chum Salmon (20%, 35%) and Sockeye Salmon (13%, 17%)

It also sounds like Chum biomass and abundance are or were ahead of sockeye biomass and abundance by a decent margin.

I totally understand the path of least resistance taken by the management agencies...pinks obviously have the least dependence on freshwater rearing habitat. It's not quite like farming and crop rotation/fertilizer etc for juicing the productivity of a given patch of dirt when you're dealing with ocean-scale fish propagation.
 

GSIEGEL

Active Member
Why would there be Hatchery Pinks when they are so numerous in numbers?
The hatchery pinks certainly add to those numbers in the scale they're being produced.
The hatchery concept is all about efficient harvest with little chance for bycatch. Processors bid on hatchery lots. When enough fish build up at the salt water return sites (typically in the 10's of thousands) they are corralled by seiners, pumped and tendered to processors. Pretty efficient way to get a lot of fish processed quickly.
 

Chris Johnson

Active Member
The approximately “5 billion hatchery salmon…released into the North Pacific each year…add to already high abundances of wild pink, chum, and sockeye,” Add to that the smolt from 30-60million sockeye from Bristol Bay and that is a lot of fish. When I first started fishing in Bristol Bay there was some what of a cycle were runs would build to large runs then there would be a flop with low returns. For most of this century the runs have been vey large.
 

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