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Thursday, April 03, 2008

Chinoook Salmon Fishery to Close!

The Feds are looking at closing the Chinook salmon fishery on the west coast for one and possibly two seasons. The reason for this is the incredibly low number of "returns" of fish from the fresh water river spawning grounds to the sea. In previous years, biologists have seen over 200,000 fish return. This year, they are expecting 56,000 fish. According to scientists, the minimum return needed to sustain the fishery is 122,000.

This closure, some claim, will cost the industry $3 billion.

Some reports indicate fishermen, commercial and private charter alike, understand and will accept the closure without a fight. This remains to be seen.

Obviously there will be a chorus of voices placing the blame squarely on global warming. More likely, pollution, industrialization, and diversion of the water source up the rivers are to blame. We saw the same thing happen here with flat fish spawn. Flounder lay their eggs on mussel and other shellfish beds in brackish water. The spawn need clean, uncontaminated water in which to flourish. But when the state of Maine built railroad and auto bridges across the rivers, as a cost-saving measure, they filled the banks with gravel and rip-wrap in order to make the bridges smaller. They created choke points in the rivers; in the fall, when flat fish lay their eggs, dead leaves and other material from fall runoff smother the beds, making them acidic with tannins and inhospitable for spawn.

If the spawn or fry are dying upriver we can't very well look at what's happening in the ocean as the cause. But people have been doing this for years. They don't want us to look inland for the sources of our problems in the oceans, because nobody wants to appear anti-growth, especially in today's economic environment.


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