A fish is a fish is a fish

  Dear HCN,


Contrary to the subtle assertions made by Mike Stark in his article titled "Killing salmon to save the species" (HCN, 10/9/00: Killing salmon to save the species), many people, from state to federal officials throughout the Northwest, were and are still angry, indeed outraged, at the salmon-clubbing episode that occurred in Oregon and that occurs in Washington as well. The hatchery-vs.-wild salmon controversy is merely another myth used by National Marine Fisheries Service and their environmental counterparts to confuse the public.


The assertion that hatchery salmon are somehow inferior to wild salmon doesn't even pass the straight-face test. Hatchery fish have to navigate the same obstacles (i.e., commercial and tribal nets, Asian drift nets, sport-fishing lines and an increased population of protected marine mammals) as wild fish.


Wild salmon stock was initially utilized to start the hatchery programs, and even progeny of hatchery fish that escape clubbing at the hatchery and spawn in the wild are considered wild salmon, for NMFS's purposes, when they return. In the end, the hatchery-vs.-wild controversy is only a controversy in the mind of the purist, which is why NMFS and their environmental counterparts are having such a difficult time gaining any traction with the public in the Northwest on this particular issue. A fish is a fish, hatchery or otherwise.


If any good does come out of the salmon controversy, it is that the public is beginning to finally catch on about how they are being manipulated by the Endangered Species Act. It never has been about recovering species, it has been about power, control and modifying the public's behavior to reflect some perceived environmental ethic. But as long as I can go to the local COSTCO or Safeway and purchase a salmon for the barbecue; as long as harvesting is still allowed to continue, it will be hard to convince anyone that the fish are as threatened as we are led to believe.


George C. Kirkmire
Olympia, Washington

The writer is executive assistant of Washington Contract Loggers Association.




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