Friday, March 14, 2008

Salmon doom and gloom

If you live on the west coast, kiss your favorite salmon goodbye. You probably won't be eating it this year. And nobody knows what'll happen next year.

Salmon doom and gloom strikes California and Oregon, and threatens Washington. And don't get too giddy, Alaska, because you could be next. It's happened before in Alaska, and it can happen again.

For the first time, we're facing a total closure of salmon fishing off California and Oregon. Washington may escape the ax for now, but that doesn't mean everything is fine here.

Does this matter? Are salmon important? Yes, salmon are a symbol of what many of us like best about the northwest. They're a common cultural icon (see photo at left), and an economic power in the northwest. The health of slamon is also a good measure of the health of our natural ecosystems, since salmon need healthy rivers, creeks, watersheds, and oceans.

What comes next? Angst and pain, and maybe a renewed commitment to right the wrongs caused by a century of salmon abuse. One can always hope.

4 comments:

Wolfman said...

Clearly climage change, habitat destruction, and natural climate/environmental variability (decadal cycles, etc.--as opposed to human induced climate change)have all likely contributed to the current situation.....But, aren't fisheries managers letting themselves and fishers off the hook (pun only slightly intended)a bit too quickly and easily for their contribution to this catastrophe? I know that salmon are a bit of a special case, given their unique life cycles, etc., but fishing mortality must be an important contributor to this crisis...if it wasn't, why close the fishery now? It seems to me that as long as we continue to harvest fish at close to "MSY" and manage fisheries based on average to good years, we will continue to face fishery crises when ever we have one or a few back-to-back poor to average years of environmental conditions. Superimposing human-induced climate change and habitat degradation on top of this, only increases the risk. Maybe its time to consider the impacts of what we take out of ocean systems a bit more carefully and manage a bit more conservatively, especially in the face of other human impacts, especially climae change? Maybe making the good years a little less good would make the bad years a bit more manageable? Anyone remember Joseph, the Technicolor Dreamcoat, and his Dream?

Mark Powell said...

I think you're right, wolfman. Salmon overfishing has been a problem, and can still be a problem. Check out http://blogfishx.blogspot.com/2006/07/salmon-overfishing.html for the blogfish take on it.

Fishmonger said...

As someone employed in the seafood industry, and concerned about sustainability I think the only logical thing to do is to close the affected fisheries. We need to have recovery if we all want to continue enjoying seafood. Of course I would like to be able to stay involved with seafood, and that requires us to continue to have these discussions.

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