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Seafood Choices & Salmon

Case Study

Jev Shelton

Jev Shelton

Commercial gillnet fisherman, Juneau, Alaska

There are a number of reasons salmon are doing so very well in southeast Alaska. The freshwater habitat in particular is really as good as it's been. We're dealing with a very small human population here, and almost undisturbed freshwater habitat, which is crucial for salmon even having a chance to survive.

Probably the most fundamental reason though is that there is a very well developed and studiously followed management system in place, where there's a set of biologists whose sole job is to make sure that the salmon populations flourish.

Terry Gardiner

Terry Gardiner

Chief Executive Officer, Norquest Seafoods

I think when people go shopping nowadays, they want to know what they're buying. I think a lot of people want more information. They are going to see the MSC label and feel that somebody has looked at the scientific side and made sure that this is a sustainable fishery and they are buying a product that they feel okay about.

If consumers care about what they're buying and why they're buying it and they want to see fisheries sustained, then businesses are going to follow it and ultimately the government. The people who regulate fisheries are going to respond to the public sector and realize that they too have to do something about making fisheries sustainable, and not focus so much on the short run - how much fish can we catch this year - and then a year later find out there's no fish and have to close down the fishery.

Sustainable fisheries really are a benefit most of all to the industry, not just to consumers.

Mike Weber

Mike Weber

Author of From Abundance to Scarcity: A History of U.S. Marine Fisheries Policy

I think one key reason for there being an increased demand for seafood is marketing. If you look at government programs, or private programs over the last five decades, there have been millions and millions of dollars spent that have tried to encourage the consumption of seafood. We eat what we are told to eat.

If you look at salmon consumption in the United States, what's happened is there has been such a dramatic increase in farmed salmon, they've had to find some way of selling this stuff. So, they aren't just sitting there waiting for people to buy salmon, they are out there marketing it any way that they can. And it is one of the most overlooked aspects of fisheries is the aspect of marketing. We always talk about controlling the fishermen, but we never talk about controlling the marketing.