What is salmon ranching?

What is Salmon Ranching?

Salmon ranching involves the release of hatchery raised salmon into the wild. Similar to salmon farming, eggs are artificially hatched and grown in a freshwater hatchery. 

When ready, the young salmon are moved to saltwater net pens where they are fed food pellets. When these hatchery-raised fish reach a size large enough to allow them to compete with wild fish, they are discharged from their pens and swim freely into the ocean to compete with other fish for food – this is “ranching”.

They remain in the ocean for anywhere from two to five years, depending on what species of salmon they are, at which time they return to the area where they were held in cages during the earlier stage of their lives.

When these ranched salmon return, they are caught by both commercial fishers and sports salmon enthusiasts alike. Ranched salmon may also be referred to as “wild-caught” salmon.