PORTLAND, Ore. -- A seafood watchdog group warned consumers to not eat some Oregon wild salmon, saying there were too few chinook originating from California's Sacramento River.
The Seafood Watch group posted information on the Monterey Bay Aquarium website, saying buyers should choose wild-caught salmon from Alaska or Washington and avoid wild-caught salmon from California and Oregon -- south of Cape Falcon.
But Oregon Salmon Commission executive director Nancy Fitzpatrick called the recommendation to avoid wild-caught Oregon salmon "irresponsible."
Oregon's Department of Agriculture, however, said many people were confused by the report. A response to the report Tuesday stated that wild-caught salmon were safe to eat and the fishery was not being depleted.
“Many people think it means the salmon are not safe to eat. Nothing could be further from the truth,” Fitzpatrick said.
The Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) granted a commercial salmon fishing season along the Oregon coast this year.
"Salmon is a highly regulated fishery on the West Coast and one of the most intensively managed in the U.S.," says PFMC Executive Director Don McIsaac in response to MBA’s action.
SeafoodWatch program executive director Ed Cassano reassured Fitzpatrick that the listing was based on MBA’s perception of sustainability issues, not food safety.
“The PFMC and federal fishery managers use science to determine whether coastal salmon can be harvested, when, and how many fish can be caught,” ODA Assistant Director Dalton Hobbs said. "The ‘red-avoid’ listing sends a confusing message to consumers that eating Oregon wild-caught salmon this summer will lead to the demise of the fishery. Science tells us otherwise."
"All Oregon salmon are sustainably harvested according to the best available science,” PFMC’s salmon advisory subpanel member Jerry Reinholdt said. "Oregon salmon is caught by hook and line, then cleaned and iced immediately," says Hobbs.
Most salmon marketed is from Alaska and Washington. In the last two decades, the group said the Alaskan fish accounted for roughly 10 times as much salmon as California, Oregon and Washington combined.
Seafood Watch recommended salmon farmed on land in “closed” or “contained” farms is a for "a more environmentally-friendly future for salmon farming."
Meanwhile, Federal officials said Tuesday this year’s run of spring Chinook in the Columbia River was one of the best they've seen in a decade.
Counters showed 291,000 adults counted passed by Bonneville Dam by the last day of spring -- above the recent average of 204,000.
Officials said the last decade was one of the best since Bonneville Dam was completed in 1938.
Biologists said better ocean conditions and improvements to freshwater rearing habitat and hatcheries has helped.
Fishing closures off the central and southern Oregon Coast were designed to protect Sacramento fish targeted in the Seafood Watch report.
Columbia River fisheries have remained open, with safeguards in place for protected species of fish.