October 11, 2003
The invasive threat of escaped farmed fish is an escalating problem," said Kevin C. Duffy, Commissioner, ADF&G. "More fish farms in British Columbia are proposed and the lack of safe containment continues to plague the industry and threaten Alaska's salmon industry." Hundreds of escaped Atlantic salmon have been caught in Alaska's marine waters over the past decade, one as far north as the Bering Sea. Of greatest concern are the several adults that have been captured in Alaska Pacific salmon spawning streams since 1998. Fisheries scientists are concerned that Atlantic salmon may become established in Alaska by out-competing wild Pacific salmon, and rainbow and steelhead trout in areas where stocks or salmon spawning habitats are stressed.
Tens of thousands of Atlantic salmon escape each year from BC salmon net-pen farms. These salmon are an introduced species to the Pacific coast and pose an invasive threat to wild salmon and trout species. Escaped Atlantic salmon are successfully breeding in some BC streams.
ADF&G is addressing the threat of Atlantic salmon and actively seeks help from citizens to monitor and identify Atlantic salmon. Over 50,000 wallet sized Atlantic salmon identification cards have been distributed to fishermen and interested citizens throughout the state. Free cards are available at all local ADF&G offices.
Citizens are asked not to release Atlantic salmon. Once identification is certain, the whole fish, including head and guts, should be turned into ADF&G as soon as possible for scientific analysis. Freezing is recommended to preserve the fish if delivery is delayed.
Atlantic Salmon Identification Features
In addition, ADF&G staff will be surveying several streams in Southeast Alaska in the spring of 2004 to see if young Atlantic salmon are present. A similar program carried out by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife found hundreds of young Atlantic salmon in one of its salmon streams this past spring.
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