Archives for January 2017

Farmed salmon is better than wild report says, Alaska experts disagree



February 1, 2017

Wild salmon is less nutritious because it burns up all its good fats and oils on its long journey to spawn. That’s the claim by professors at Stirling University in Scotland who studied declines in omega-3 levels in farmed salmon due to increased use of plant based feeds.  It brought a quick reaction from one Alaska expert.

I laughed. It’s a silly remark.

Scott Smiley of Kodiak is a retired professor and noted expert in cell and developmental biology. He says farmed salmon, like other living creatures, are what they eat.

 You can adjust farmed fish so that their diets have much more omega 3 and they are able to consume that and store the omega 3s that way. So they can have more, it’s just a question of cost. It’s relatively expensive to do.  

Catching wild fish to feed farmed fish has fallen out of favor and that’s forced fish farmers to find feeds sourced from plants or synthetics. The Scottish report said that in 2006, 80 per cent of the average salmon’s diet was made up of oily fish; now it is just 20 per cent. Smiley says most farmers now balance feeds with fish meals at critical times in the fishes’ development.

You know the same thing happens with humans. You don’t eat rice or beans alone, you eat them together, and that’s because there are certain nutritional requirements that aren’t available in either rice or beans, but together they are there.  

One million smoked salmon meals are eaten in the UK every week, according to the report, and salmon purchases there have increased 550 percent. But even with the lower omega levels, farmed is still better for you than wild the researchers concluded.

It’s hard to tell which fish has the highest amount of omega 3 oils because levels vary by local populations.

So herring off of Kodiak may have very high levels of o3, but herring from some other place may have half of that. So there is variation in natural populations that is really intense.  And it totally depends on what they eat.

Alaska could ramp up production of fish parts that provide high levels of various nutrients. But the current budget crunch likely precludes investment.

So I think it’s going to take awhile before the capability to produce new products that are more exciting in the world of dietary feed formulations for fish. 

Meanwhile, the claim that wild salmon burn up all their fats and oils in their travels home brought a final rebuff –

I did contact a friend who is a fish nutritionist and my friend asked if  the Scottish researcher was a professor of medieval literature.  

The farmed salmon   report is in the journal Scientific Reports.

Salmon is America’s #2 favorite seafood. 


AK halibut catches increase 5.5%, no cuts for 2017; Halibut bycatch decreases


Credit: Pacific Fishing Magazine

January 30, 2017

More Pacific halibut will be going to market this year due to an overall boost in the harvests for the West Coast, British Columbia and Alaska. The coast wide catch of 31.4 million pounds reflects a 5.1 percent increase, and for the first time in decades, not a single fishing region got a cut in halibut catches.

The heartening news was released on Friday by the International Pacific Halibut Commission, overseer of the stocks since 1923.

Halibut catch limits are determined by summer surveys at more than 1,200 stations from Oregon to the Aleutians. For this year, the results showed the stock has remained stable over three years, although the fish remain small for their ages.

Alaska gets the lion’s share of the Pacific halibut catch – a 5.5 percent increase statewide adds up to 22.62 million pounds, or an extra million pounds for commercial and charter users (in 2C and 3A). Here is the breakdown in millions of pounds of halibut:

Southeast Alaska: 5.25m, a 6.1 percent increase

Central Gulf: 10m, a 4.2 percent increase

Western Gulf: 3.14m, a 15.9 percent increase

Aleutians regions remain flat at 1.39m and 1.14m

Bering Sea: 1.70m, a 2.4 percent increase    

Bycatch of halibut continues to decline, the IPHC reported.  The accidental take of halibut in other fisheries is now seven million pounds, the lowest level since 1960.

The halibut fishery is set to open on March 11 but may be delayed due to Donald Trump’s freeze on new and pending federal regulations.  That includes the rules to operate the halibut and sablefish fisheries, which opens the same day.  Both fisheries will end this year on November 7.

Find links to halibut and all of Alaska’s catches at and on Facebook and Twitter.