Deadly success?

posted by Michael Ortega - 

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Twenty-eight years ago, the state of Alaska banned fish farming in favor of salmon ranching. The idea was simple: Catch a bunch of fish, squeeze out their eggs and sperm, mix the two together, hatch the eggs, raise the little fish in a hatchery, dump them in the ocean, wait for them to come back, and net the money.

What could possibly go wrong? Maybe this:

From 1985 to 1994, before the hatchery program seriously geared up in the Prince William Sound,  the commercial catch of sockeye (red) salmon in Cook Inlet averaged about 5.3 million fish per year.

As hatchery production in the Sound went up, as all the little pink salmon released there early every year rode the Alaska Coastal Current north into the big mixing zone of the mouth of Inlet where many fish converge, the catch in the Inlet went down.

Deadly success?

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