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'Wild' label does not accurately describe inlet's hatchery stocks

Posted: Thursday, December 04, 2003

It seems like a bunch of people appear to have a problem with the definition of the term " wild salmon." I have been seeing letters to the editor which attempt to address the term "wild salmon." Some of these letters attempt to attach the term " wild" to better processed Cook Inlet hatchery salmon.

I know that the commercial fishing industry is desperate and on the ropes with the price of fish, but does that somehow justify committing marketing fraud on the general public?

Attention: Better processed hatchery salmon are not wild salmon. Hello!

I ask any commercial fisherman to please show the public the true genetic background record of the salmon they are attempting to define as being wild.

The truth is that if the "hatchery truth" were made public, even a fraction of the amount they are marketing the "wild lie," the commercial fishing industry may not make as much money. So the "wild lie" wins over the truth for the sake of a dollar.

The real world's definition of the term " wild salmon" is a salmon which was born in the gravel, not genetically manipulated within a sterilized hatchery tank. No person or marketing campaign can guarantee that a sockeye salmon caught within Cook Inlet meets the true definition of the term "wild." There are significant sockeye salmon hatchery stocks through out all Cook Inlet waters. Unless you have done some kind of DNA testing on a specific fish, you cannot assure a buyer that a fish is of either wild or hatchery stock.

The Kenai Wild brand is being marketed under the false assumption that no such testing need be done. No testing is claimed to be needed because these marketers believe that any salmon caught within Cook Inlet may automatically be or magically becomes a wild salmon. These marketers claim that they may earn the "wild" term by processing the fish better. If that is truly what they are selling, why not label it "Better Processed Salmon, BPS"?

The term wild is nothing but an end run attempt to get around the U.S. government not allowing them to market the term "organic." The industry lobbied hard to brand their artificial hatchery salmon as being organic, but the government rejected that sideways marketing attempt. This organic failure caused plan B to be put into operation and that plan called for latching onto the term "wild" by any means possible.

Plan B, wild branding, is a marketing plan which attempts to get the consumer to:

1.Please forget the 30 years of artificial sockeye plantings which gillnetters have been dumping into Cook Inlet.

2. Please forget that the gillnetters don't know for sure if the salmon they just sold you was born in a sterilized tank like some kind of clone or hatched wild within the gravel of one of our rivers.

3. Please forget that the gillnetters have been artificially manipulating the genetics of all Cook lnlet salmon for 30 years by overnetting enhanced artificial hatchery stocks while true wild stocks have been ravaged.

4. Please, please, please forget that gillnetters have ravaged true wild stocks while scrambling for artificial hatchery stocks.

It is extremely ironic that the very industry which has a history of expanding the artificial salmon envelope even to the point of threatening true wild stocks, now wishes to call its product "wild." It is very hard to believe that the same industry which spent much time and money producing artificial salmon now expects the consumer to just accept that its artificial salmon should now be rightly called "wild."

I believe the commercial fishing industry has greatly underestimated the consumer on this one.

Don Johnson

Soldotna



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