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Dec 2, 2019
Opinion: Murkowski is stifling innovation
Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s recent column in these pages touted her many efforts to support Alaskan fisheries and fishermen. I couldn’t agree more with her goals and support the solutions she puts forward that will enhance the livelihood of this great state while enabling more American families to have fresh, healthy salmon on their plates.
Where I disagree with the senator is when the policies she seeks move from support for Alaska to attacking new and innovative efforts by others to bring fresh, healthy salmon to market. And while Murkowski is specifically working to undermine a single company she views as a threat to the Alaska fish industry, her efforts could have a chilling effect on innovators from all industries, both in Alaska and around the country, who now need to fear that their years of investment and research and seeking regulatory approval can all be undone by the efforts of a single senator.
As Alaskans well know, there is no substitute for the high-quality Alaskan salmon caught by tens of thousands of fishermen in this great state. While Alaskan fisheries are to be applauded for their decades of excellent product, the Pacific salmon industry alone cannot feed our country, nor is it sustainable to think it can simply increase production from already over-fished seas.
Like Alaskan salmon, Atlantic salmon are essential to feeding and nourishing a healthy America. Atlantic salmon have been both caught and farmed for decades, providing a different and less expensive alternative to Alaskan and other Pacific salmon for millions of consumers. Unfortunately, the United States currently lacks a sustainable means of providing enough salmon to meet the ever-growing demand of millions of American families across the country. This shortfall is so great, that the United States currently imports 90% of the Atlantic salmon consumed in America from countries like Norway and Chile.
A small, Massachusetts-based company, AquaBounty Technologies, has made its mission to find a sustainable solution to this problem. After 20 years of research and development and countless approvals, AquaBounty is on the cusp of bringing its domestically-raised seafood to communities across the country. Through robust innovation and rigorous testing, AquaBounty has developed a way to use genetic engineering to farm-raise salmon in closed environments that can help meet demand. What’s more, these closed environments are isolated from wild fish populations and pose no risk to any other salmon. Read the article