Sobering News for This Fish Lover

Last week, I posted about my love for wild salmon, which is as pure and whole as love gets. The day after I posted — the very next day! — there was some sobering news from the West Coast: wild chinook salmon that run upstream in the Sacramento River are vanishing without a trace. Vanishing. Woosh. They’re gone. We’re talking about the most dependable source of Chinook salmon south of Alaska.

chinook.jpgNot surprisingly, this is gloomy news for fishing communities. It’s likely that California and Oregon salmon fishing will be halted altogether. Washington fisheries are under threat. Alaska — the source of the majority of wild salmon — is okay for now, but Blogfish reminds Alaska not to get too giddy. Overfishing has threatened Alaskan salmon in the past, too.

But why? Why is this happening? No one knows for sure. It could be that the highly unusual ocean conditions in 2005 left wee little fingerling salmon without food, and more susceptible to predators. Or it could be what some fishery managers and biologists believe: that California drained water at the wrong time to serve the state’s powerful agricultural interests and cities in arid Southern California.

But Mark Powell (who happens to be the Clark Kent to Blogfish’s Superman) makes a terrific point in the Christian Science Monitor: that we have “been guilty of salmon abuse for decades…we’ve been hitting and hammering on salmon with all these different injuries for decade after decade, and now there are so many reasons for decline we don’t even know what has been the last straw.”

All this follows some other discouraging news that large coral species are disappearing, potentially threatening ocean life. And that an international team researchers concluded that not a single square foot of ocean had been left untouched by modern society, and that humans had fouled 41 percent of the seas with polluted runoff, overfishing and other abuses.

This is all pretty tough news for a fish-lover like myself. I really do love fish. (Have I mentioned that?)

So, I’m hoping you can help keep my love alive. It might be too late for the Sacramento River Chinook, at least for a while. But it’s not too late for the other fish. You can contact your elected official to protect our waters from global warming. You can also do your best to choose sustainable seafood. There are lots of great options. They’ve even regionalized the list for you. So go ahead. Make wise fish choices.

And in the meantime, cross your fingers for those Chinook salmon.

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5 thoughts on “Sobering News for This Fish Lover”

  1. I like my fish most still swimming. Must be the diver in me, which is why the coral news is disturbing. Some day I had hoped to take my daughter diving, too.

  2. My husband is a commercial fisherman, and we have struggled the last few years. Without a federal declaration of disaster, there will be no help for the fisherman and related businesses. The Native Americans need help too. As much as 75% of the water in our river is diverted during the summer, and they wonder what is wrong…I don’t eat fish, but I can tell you the salmon have not been overfished in the ocean up here in N. Cal.
    Apparently, it is suppose to be a great year for Alaska salmon.

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