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Grill to Save Bristol Bay

Savor Bristol Bay cedar grilling planks are now available for purchase from Fire & Flavor Grilling Co. All proceeds from cedar plank sales directly benefit the Save Bristol Bay campaign. Buy your cedar plank today.

Water & Wine

Not sure what wine to have with your wild salmon? Check out one of Trout Unlimited's Water & Wine partners and invest your dollars in a winery that's investing in the future of our wild salmon

WW Business Partners

Wondering where to go to dinner or where to buy some wild salmon? Check out our growing list of WhyWild Business Partners with businesses all over the country committed to sustainable wild salmon fisheries and doing their part to save wild salmon. View the list

Frequently Asked Questions

Wild salmon populations are declining. Why are you telling us to eat them?

We are not encouraging fishing and eating of depleted or ESA-listed stocks; in fact, we work every single day in the Pacific Northwest, Idaho, California and even Washington, D.C. to secure the absolute maximum legal protection of those stocks that need help. There are several fisheries – such as Alaskan wild-caught, ocean trolled chinook from Oregon, Washingtonand California of variable runs depending on the year - that provide sustainable commercial harvest of wild-caught salmon. We’re encouraging people to support and chose sustainable wild-caught salmon from well-managed fisheries. Alaska happens to have themost and the best of those, but not the only ones. And it’s no surprise: Alaska also shappens to have the best habitat, the best fisheries management, and the fewest development threats( such as large dams). We believe that by encouraging consumer investment in sustainable wild-caught Pacific salmon products, and by teaming that with an aggressive education campaign about the conditions wild Pacific salmon need in order to thrive, we are creating an army of advocates investing their dollars in, and advocating for, the best salmon habitat, harvest management, hydropower and hatchery policies attainable.

What exactly is the Salmon Consumer’s Bill of Rights?

If wild Pacific salmon and steelhead conservation started its own political party, the Bill of Rights would be its platform. When we talk about the conditions that wild Pacific salmon and steelhead require to thrive, these are the steps needed, in combination, to attain those conditions. We believe people have a right to know there are wild salmon and steelhead swimming and spawning in self-sustaining numbers throughout their historic Pacific range, and the Bill of Rights is the set of conservation principles which, working in combination, we believe are essential to reaching that goal. By signing onto the Bill of Rights, you are stating you agree with the goal and the means of getting there, and that you will spend your consumer dollars in support of businesses which do the same. As the campaign grows, TU will be engaging larger and larger businesses and industries with the voices of all the Bill of Rights’ signatories in support, seeking real actions from business and industry that support our right to wild salmon and steelhead.

What about non-Alaskan salmon?   Will this campaign help stocks in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, California, and British Columbia?

Consumers know that wild Pacific salmon and steelhead are important, irreplaceable. They know they’re an icon species, and that once wild salmon are gone, they’re gone, taking much of the heart of the Pacific Coast’s fish and fishing heritage with them. Consumers don’t want that. Consumers also know that wild-caught Pacific salmon is a good, wholesome, healthy and delicious food, often a celebratory and seasonal treat.  It’s just food you can feel good about.

The crux of this campaign is to play off of that vast majority among consumers and to educate them on the conditions that wild Pacific salmon – no matter where they are – need to thrive, to energize those consumers by providing them with simple things they can do in their daily lives, either in their own spending or in other consumer actions as well as consumer advocacy, to move the needle toward having healthy, self-sustaining, and fishable populations of wild salmon and steelhead throughout their historic Pacific range, and to those consumers into large blocs of power and influence that business, industry and decision-makers cannot ignore.

By recognizing the conditions that wild Pacific salmon and steelhead require to thrive, this new voting bloc of salmon-savvy consumers can face any challenge for fish, in any geographic location or political climate. The problems and challenges facing salmon and steelhead throughout their Pacific range are greatly variable, changing constantly, often at the whim of business and industry; therefore an educated consumer advocate army is the most powerful ally wild salmon and steelhead can have.

TU is an organization of mostly anglers who promote catch-and-release.  Why are you advocating eating more wild fish?

Catch-and-release is a very important tool for wild trout, salmon and steelhead fisheries that cannot sustain themselves and sustain harvest at the same time. It’s also important that anglers know the right ways to practice catch-and-release, as done improperly, fish injury and mortality will remain high.

Many salmon fisheries are simply different, having provided sustainable, quality and wholesome food to people on a large, and later commercial, scale for generations and literally hundreds of years. We believe a balance between wild-caught salmon-as-food fisheries and modern human society is critical to the sustainability of wild salmon and steelhead populations. The key to that balance is for people, and the societies that rely on wild-caught salmon, to understand the conditions – in habitat, harvest, hydropower and hatcheries – that wild salmon, steelhead and trout require in order to exist in long-term abundance sufficient to support a portion for us to eat. As soon as we give up on that balance, not only will the wild-caught salmon disappear from our stores and restaurants, but so will the need, and the financial and market incentive, to make sure the conditions wild salmon and steelhead need to thrive exist in our rivers and oceans as well as our fishery and natural resource management.

Remember that investing consumer dollars in wild-caught Pacific salmon products is investing consumer dollars in the conditions wild salmon and steelhead need to thrive in throughout their historic range.

What’s wrong with farmed salmon? Isn’t it taking pressure off of wild stocks?

Salmon farming in Pacific waters (in North America it exists only in British Columbia and Washington state currently; Alaska, Oregon and California have no salmon farms) poses two kinds of threats to wild Pacific salmon and steelhead, direct and indirect. These threats, and their potential for enormous growth and more widespread damage, far outweigh any pressure taken off wild-caught Pacific salmon fisheries.

Direct: salmon farming in Pacific waters is dirty. Pollution plumes, often containing large amount of chemicals, sometimes toxic ones, waste and other nasty stuff flow from these operations, blighting the surrounding ecosystem. One small Atlantic salmon farm – roughly 200,000 fish – produces as much raw sewage as a city of 65,000 people.

Despite a steady diet of antibiotics for their hosts, sea lice infestations run rampant through crowded net pens of salmon farms, and spread to migrating wild salmon and steelhead smolts in the vicinity. While adult salmon and steelhead can survive sea lice, infestation is usually fatal to smolts, and large portions of wild runs are disappearing due to sea lice killing out-migrating smolts.

The vast majority of salmon farming operations in Pacific waters raise non-native Atlantic salmon. In severe weather, or when predators damage net pens, or through general wear and tear, these non-natives escape, often in large numbers, threatening the genetic integrity of the wild and native salmon and steelhead populations for the entire coastline.

The entire balance of aquatic ecosystems cannot be sustained in the face of salmon farming. Consider that it takes about 4 pounds of wild forage fish (herring, anchovy, etc) from the ocean to make enough fish food to produce 1 pound of farmed salmon, and you’ll see quickly that the protein load of the ocean is under threat not from salmon fishing, but really from salmon farming.

Indirect: If, as consumers voting with our dollars, we send the message to fish sellers, retailers, and wholesalers that farmed salmon is a product we will settle for, the financial incentive for large business and industry, all the way down to the fish monger at your corner market, to take actions to ensure the conditions on the ground and in the water that wild salmon and steelhead need to thrive disappears. Soon after that, we run the risk that the wild salmon and steelhead themselves will disappear at alarming rates.

Remember: A consumer’s dollar invested in wild-caught Pacific salmon is a dollar invested in the conditions they need to thrive, be they better habitat, better management, better water quality, or whathaveyou. A consumer dollar invested in farmed salmon is a signal that wild salmon and wild salmon conservation are expendable, and that you’ll settle for less, be it on your plate, in your local river, or in the ocean beyond.

Is TU anti-aquaculture?

No. TU limits our opposition to salmon farming in the Pacific only when it poses serious threats to the health and well-being of wild Pacific salmon, trout and steelhead stocks, which the majority of salmon farming operations in Pacific waters currently do. Certainly there are other aquaculture products and processes that pose no threat to wild salmon, trout or steelhead. If and when technology evolves that allows salmon farms to operate without harm to wild salmon, trout or steelhead, TU’s opposition would end. We encourage the development of such technology, if it can be done.

TU currently does not have a position, pro or con, on any segment of aquaculture except on the grounds that it poses harm to wild Pacific salmon, trout or steelhead. Salmon farming is chief on that list at this time.

Don’t recreational and commercial fishermen not get along? By promoting commercially caught salmon are we taking fish away from recreational fishermen?

In many areas rivalries, often heated, exist between various fishing interests, be they commercial, sport or tribal fishermen. We believe that divisions like these within the community of fishers make it much easier for those whose interests do not lie with the long-term well-being of wild salmon, trout and steelhead fisheries to overrun us in natural resource policy and management decisions, habitat use, protection and restoration. Taken as a whole, however, the community of fishermen is hard to beat, and definitely cannot be quieted. Therefore we work toward cooperation and bridge-building among and between fishing interests, not further division.

This is why TU is so deeply involved in every aspect of Pacific salmon, trout and steelhead fisheries. We were at the table in 1999 when the current iteration of the Pacific Salmon Treaty, which governs international commercial salmon fishing from the Pacific Northwest to Southeast Alaska, seeking to make the Treaty less of a fight for who gets to catch the last salmon, and more a living document, or an insurance policy, to protect the interests of the fisheries and the fish, to work for the conditions on the ground and in the water that will produce enough fish for everyone, and more. As the Pacific Salmon Treaty nears renewal in 2009, TU is there again at the table, seeking better conditions for salmon and steelhead all along the coast. This is to say nothing of our daily work to ensure the best possible habitat access and water quality for fish through in hydropower management; our habitat protection and restoration projects from southern California to Bristol Bay, Alaska and inland to Idaho and beyond; our leading role in ensuring that the use of hatcheries for salmon and steelhead is as protective of wild fish as possible; and our dogged defense of the maximum legal protections under the law for depleted salmon, trout and steelhead stocks and their watersheds.

We believe that for fishermen, all fishermen, it really is about the fish. When we allow Mother Nature to make more wild fish, the fighting, amazingly, tends to stop. And for fish, it’s really only about making sure the conditions on the ground and in the water are what they require. So the old saw that “if we do right by the fish, the fishing will take care of itself” really is still at the core of these issues. We believe also that if we take care of the fish, the fishermen, working together, will take care of themselves as well.

What about steelhead?

Typically, wild steelhead are almost never commercially marketed for food. Steelhead are highly prized by recreational anglers, and TU aggressively supports catch-and-release regulations where wild steelhead are in depletion, as well as other legal protections where needed. We include steelhead under the “conservation” umbrella of this campaign because steelhead use so much common habitat with salmon, that what helps wild salmon on the ground, in the river or in the ocean often helps steelhead, and what hurts one hurts the other too. Store-bought steelhead is almost always farmed. Commercially harvested wild Pacific steelhead is not a goal of Trout Unlimited or this campaign.

Do you think the world’s demand for salmon can be met without aquaculture? I heard we’re gonna run out of seafood in 2048.

We do not believe that salmon farming is going away, nor is it our goal to eliminate it. Our campaign is PRO-WILD FISH vastly more so than it is ANTI-anything. We’re seeking to engage, educate, energize and then mobilize as many people as we can who appreciate wild salmon and steelhead for the kinds of conservation actions we need to get done to protect and restore them, and have them for the future. We’d seriously consider supporting salmon farming if – and only if – the industry comes up with a method that eliminates the current enormous threat to wild salmon and steelhead and their habitat. We believe a consumer public that demands wild salmon puts the incentive and indeed pressure on industry, business and governments to protect the essential elements necessary to have wild salmon in fishable numbers. We believe a consumer public that is willing to settle for less, sends the message that conservation is expendable.

Our overarching goal is long-term, self-sustaining, healthy and fishable populations of wild salmon and steelhead throughout their Pacific range. We believe the key to that goal is with wild fish. Other technology could help, but without wild fish, we’re sunk.

What can I do to help or learn more about TU’s Why Wild campaign?

Sign onto the Bill of Rights to receive our email updates, and log on to regularly. But most importantly, be an educated salmon consumer, and let your local fish seller know that you are one.