farmed' and naturally bred salmon of the same species vis-a-vis the Endangered Species Act. It will also evaluate and explain my opinion regarding the issue of applying the Endangered Species Act to when a native species is declining in its natural environment but successfully bred in captivity. It would seem at first glance that farmed and wild salmon are the same species, and so, they should be treated exactly the same when it comes to laws, regulations, and the Endangered Species Act. However, after looking into the situation, it is much more difficult to make a concrete decision, and it is also highly charged emotionally on both sides, so decisions are also emotional and scientific. Ultimately, it seems true that the Endangered Species Act was created to save and protect species in the wild that are disappearing, and that salmon bred in captivity simply do not fit this description, and so the fight to protect wild salmon must continue until the wild salmon can redistribute themselves, thrive, and survive successfully in their natural habitat.
These two articles make it quite clear that the situation evolving between the wild salmon of the Pacific Northwest (and other areas), and the Endangered Species Act is an emotional and complicated issue that does not have a simple answer. What creates a difference between wild salmon and farm raised salmon is one issue, and so is what to do to preserve the habitat of the wild salmon so they can continue to spawn and live. It is also clear that the once common wild salmon are disappearing from the area in great numbers. Reporter Sam Howe Verhovek notes in his article, "Saving' Wild Salmon's Bucket-Born Cousins," "Wild coho salmon populations in the Oregon coast area are at less than 5% of what they were in 1900, when more than a million fish returned to spawn each year, according to the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations" (Verhovek A17). Thus, most of the salmon in the area today are hatchery raised, and there are differences between the two populations.
As one scientist notes, "In a wild salmon stream, it's survival of the fittest,' Mr. Bayles said. 'In a hatchery situation, everybody survives, and ultimately you're producing a lot of unfit fish'" (Verhovek A17). Thus, it seems quite clear that even though the hatchery fish seem as if they are the same as the wild salmon, they are not. They have not learned to survive on their own in the wild, they do not have the instincts of wild fish, and they are simply different than the native fish to the area. In addition, many companies are now attempting to genetically alter fish to make them grow faster, and if these fish are eventually released into the wild, or breed with wild salmon, the results could be disastrous, and they have not been fully studied. These genetically altered fish might not fight off diseases as well, or might be more susceptible to substances in the water like mercury or other poisons. When an animal is not natural to the area, introducing it can be an environmental nightmare. For example, rabbits were not native to Australia, and when they were introduced, they bred so quickly and ate so much that they destroyed millions of acres of the country's "outback" grasses and plants. Hatchery-raised fish could pose the same threat, and there have not been enough studies done yet to really know what their ultimate threat is to the natural habitat of the wild salmon.
It is clear that the people who are affected most by the Endangered Species Act are the people who work in some of the areas that the Act is trying to protect. Farmers, loggers, and businesspeople in the area have their lives changed when the Act protects areas that belong to them. However emotional the issue is, there is another side to the debate. The fish after all, were in the area long before the farmers, ranchers, and loggers, and the environment was self-sustaining. Now, man has changed things, and the environment is no longer self-sustaining. The farmers and loggers may face difficulties now, but they could face far more difficulties if the salmon disappear, the hatchery fish cannot survive in the wild, and the entire ecological balance of the area tips. The salmon are not an insulated species. Many other animals and even plants owe their…