April 15

Salmon Collapse a Tragedy

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Several years ago, Mike and I hosted a Protein Power cruise on Holland America Lines from Vancouver up the coast of Alaska to Glacier Bay. The trip offered some of the most spectacular scenery I’ve ever viewed: pristine skies, deeply forested land, clear waters teeming with marine life. Breathtaking beauty.

On one excursion, we helicoptered across the vast expanse of glacial ice to walk on the glaciers (as we sipped champagne and nibbled fudge–my kind of trek for sure). It was an unforgettable experience to stand on that frozen sheet and listen to the noisy snapping and popping the glacier makes and to look into the chasms with their unearthly aquamarine light and hear the roar of water beneath them.

On another excursion, we paddled sea kayaks up into the quite estuaries to where the salmon spawn. At the mouths of the streams, the fish were literally roiling the water with activity, leaping from the surface high enough that one could have easily landed inside the kayaks. Another truly amazing experience.

So it was with dismay that I read the article by Terence Chea in last weeks paper: Salmon Collapse may prompt fishing ban.

The situation is dire, as Mr. Chea writes:

…only about 90,000 adult chinook [king salmon] returned to the Central Valley last fall — the second lowest number on record and well below the number needed to maintain a healthy fishery. That number is projected to fall to a record low of 58,000 this year. By contrast, 775,000 adults were counted in the Sacramento River and its tributaries as recently as 2002.

“This stock got off-the-charts bad very suddenly,” said Donald McIsaac, the council’s executive director. “It’s a very, very severe situation.”

For those of us who love to eat salmon it’s a situation we should watch. For those who make their living fishing for salmon, it’s a nightmare. We can expect that salmon prices will rise, but it will be worth the effort if it means recovery of this natural resource.


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  1. I wonder what the reason for the drop in numbers was ?

    Last November 100,000 salmon in a farm in Ireland were killed by a massive shoal of jellyfish. The jellyfish covered an area of 10 square miles and 35 feet deep: http://www.reuters.com/article/scienceNews/idUSL2241858320071122

    Anne

    COMMENT from MD EADES: I don’t know the cause; I think no one does yet, but the scientific community involved in researching it is looking at 46 putative candidates. I know that among them are a decrease (or shift in density) of the krill and small fish that are the main food supply of the juvenile trout.

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