What is behind the salmon decline?


sea lice
California’s most abundant salmon run suddenly dropped this season to an historic low. Fishing groups and many environmental organizations were quick to point the finger: The pumps in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta that move water to grow half of the nation’s fruits and vegetables and provide a key water supply for two out of every three California residents. “It’s proof that the operation of these water projects is harming salmon,” one environmentalist told the Associated Press.

But what if this treasured salmon run is in trouble for other reasons? What if government scientists were increasingly suspecting changing conditions in the ocean as the primary factor? And what if environmental groups were publicly reluctant to blame another human activity – recreational and commercial salmon fishing – because the groups were allies in court skirmishes against the water projects?

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(Sounds like a bad choice of allies to me….)
And some more articles today about the decline of salmon in North America…

Pesticide Brew Spells Trouble for Salmon
Salmon in the U.S. Pacific Northwest, and elsewhere, have been in a world of hurt for decades. One of their main enemies is agricultural chemicals, like chlorpyrifos. The pesticide interferes with salmon brains and harms their ability to feed, according to studies by Nathaniel Scholz, a zoologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Seattle. Now Scholz’s research is showing that mixtures of pesticides are even worse for salmon and can be surprisingly lethal.

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‘Friends’ of fish farming should drop the cloak of denial
Stephen Hume , Vancouver Sun
Published: Monday, February 18, 2008

Twenty-seven years ago, the Banff School of Advanced Management presented each graduate with a tiny gold Tyrannosaurus Rex, top of the Cretaceous food chain.

Wear the pin, we were told, not as a symbol of the power that comes with your exalted corporate status, but to remind you of the school’s motto, “adapt or perish.”

I thought about that advice last week as I read the latest e-mails in the spin surrounding fish farms, sea lice and whether there’s evidence of a threat to wild salmon.

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Spawning salmon numbers dwindling in Napa River

Fewer chinook salmon returned to spawn in the Napa River this season, a fact that Napa County biologists think may be linked to poor ocean conditions.

Smaller salmon runs were reported in other watersheds in the region as well, noted RCD biologists who surveyed a stretch of the Napa River in December and January.

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Dramatic Declines In Wild Salmon Populations Linked To Exposure To Farmed Salmon

ScienceDaily (Feb. 13, 2008) — Comparing the survival of wild salmonid populations in areas near salmon farms with unexposed populations reveals a large reduction in survival in the populations reared near salmon farms. Since the late 1970s, salmon aquaculture has grown into a global industry, producing over 1 million tons of salmon per year. However, this solution to globally declining fish stocks has come under increasing fire. In a new study Jennifer Ford and Ransom Myers provide the first evidence on a global scale illustrating systematic declines in wild salmon populations that come into contact with farmed salmon.

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Farmed Salmon Decimating Wild Salmon Worldwide

James Owen
for National Geographic News
February 12, 2008

The growing global appetite for cheap farmed salmon is imperiling wild fish populations across the planet, scientists warn.

The first worldwide assessment of the impact of cultivated salmon on wild stocks found that where native populations encounter salmon farms, the numbers of wild fish crash, on average, by more than 50 percent.

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(oh, and if you’re not yet pissed off enough…)
Toxicity from Fossil Fuels Greatly Impacts Fish and Human Lives

A leading scientist in the U.S. has revealed that a class of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH), a compound found in oil which is not considered to be a carcinogen by scientists to date, is actually toxic to the developing hearts of fish.

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Un-Dam the Klamath River Benefit Dinner

In the not too distant past, the Klamath River was a free-flowing river with clean water and world class runs of Pacific salmon. Today, a series of dams owned and operated by PacifiCorp, has decimated salmon runs and polluted the river with toxic algae. PacifiCorp, is owned by corporate giant Berkshire Hathaway. Berkshire Hathaway’s majority stockholder Warren Buffett, also known as the Oracle of Omaha remains second richest billionaire in the world.

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New Findings On Emerging Contaminants

American and Canadian scientists are finding that out of sight, out of mind can no longer be the approach we take to the chemicals in our waters. Substances that we use everyday are turning up in our lakes, rivers and ocean, where they can impact aquatic life and possibly ourselves.

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Toxic runoff part of the slow poison that threatens Puget Sound’s future

Once the rain hits the ground, it becomes an instant delivery system for much of the pollution that 4 million people in the Puget Sound basin spread across the landscape — oil and grease on parking lots, driveways and roads, fertilizers and pesticides on lawns, animal waste and even the heavy metals that result from wear and tear on brakes and tires.

The pollution pathway is called stormwater runoff — the No. 1 pollution problem in urban Puget Sound…

It all spells trouble for the marine web of life, and humans, too. Salmon exposed to heavy metals and toxins have trouble reproducing or fending off predators. The toxins accumulate in their bodies, placing humans at risk when they eat contaminated fish and shellfish. “We need to address stormwater pollution, if we are to have any hope of restoring the Puget Sound ecosystem,” said Bruce Wishart, policy director for the conservation group People for Puget Sound.

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