Monday, July 9, 2012

106 salmon stocks are EXTINCT. 13 remaining are endangered or threatened. I suppose in the grand scheme of things this doesn't matter. I'm sure if the Bald Eagle had went extinct most of us would have been secure in the knowledge that we had at least seen one. I'm lucky in the fact that I've not only seen salmon, I've been fortunate enough to fish for them. I've gotten my interaction with the salmon. But really? Where does that leave our children? Do they, or they're children not deserve to have the same interactions with the salmon? Do they not deserve to fish the rivers? Do they not deserve healthy environments in which to live and breathe?

Human...yes...I am

Having a very human experience this morning. Spent most of my time at the KC Metaphysical fair this past weekend, volunteering. Can I just tell you how much in awe of these people I am? From everyone behind the scenes to everyone who did vending...just an incredible wealth of talent and ability. Not to mention gifted. Wow. Inspiring. I met a few people who I ended up discussing the book with. Words of wisdom from them..."don't get frustrated and don't give up"...."This is an important book, with the promise to have far reaching consequences"...."You are being the catalyst for change."... So many gracious, kind words and thoughts for me and my project. But, here's where I'm having the problem. Words are not going to get this book into publication. Words are not going to get me on a research trip, so that I can go collect photos, interviews and facts. Words encourage. I'm grateful for the encouraging...but I need the funding. Which brings me to my human experience. It's more of a realization...people are people. They will fight for and fund what they believe in. They will not necessarily fund things that don't: A. Immediately benefit them. B. Get their name and their passions out in the public eye. C. Help to fund something conservation based. "C" really gets me. If we were down to 2 mating pairs of Bald Eagles, there would be a mass investing of funds to help save the eagles. There would be fundraisers, telethons, etc... Why not the salmon? Is it because they are fish? Is it because they aren't "sexy"? Is it because the world has given up on trying to save the environment? *hrm* Not sure. But it's given me pause. And fuel. Light the burners, this rocket is about to go off....

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Salmon Headlines - July 5th 2012

Say “No” to Big Coal Right now, Big Coal is attempting to transform Oregon’s majestic Columbia River from the heart of our renewable energy corridor and salmon fishing paradise into the nation’s hub for exporting dirty coal to China. If the big coal companies get their way, up to 38 million tons of coal per year could soon be shipped through Oregon on uncovered trains and exported through the Port of St. Helens- directly adjacent to one of the hottest salmon fishing spots on the river come late summertime. This is not the Oregon I know. No room for coal, lets keep it Bikes, Brews, Books, Salmon and more Salmon! Hatchery Salmon a threat to Native Salmon Stocks A newly published collection of more than 20 studies by leading university scientists and government fishery researchers in Alaska, British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, California, Russia and Japan provides mounting evidence that salmon raised in man-made hatcheries can harm wild salmon through competition for food and habitat. “The genetic effects of mixing hatchery fish with wild populations have been well-documented,” says journal editor David Noakes from Oregon State University. “But until now the ecological effects were largely hypothetical. Now we know the problems are real and warrant more attention from fisheries managers.” The research volume, published in the May issue of Environmental Biology of Fishes, brings together 23 peer-reviewed, independent studies carried out across the entire range of Pacific salmon, including some of the first studies describing the impact of hatcheries on wild salmon populations in Japan and Russia. The studies provide new evidence that fast-growing hatchery fish compete with wild fish for food and habitat in the ocean as well as in the rivers where they return to spawn. The research also raises questions about whether the ocean can supply enough food to support future increases in hatchery fish while still sustaining the productivity of wild salmon. “This isn’t just an isolated issue,” says Pete Rand, a biologist at the Wild Salmon Center and a guest editor of the publication. “What we’re seeing here in example after example is growing scientific evidence that hatchery fish can actually edge out wild populations.” Losing wild fish would mean losing the genetic diversity that has allowed salmon to survive for centuries. Unlike hatchery fish, wild salmon populations have a range of highly specialized adaptations to the natural environment. These adaptations not only help them return to their home streams to spawn, but also increase their ability to withstand environmental changes like increases in ocean temperature and extreme variations in stream flows. Hatchery fish, as the name implies, are hatched from eggs fertilized in a controlled environment and raised in captivity until they are big enough to release into the natural environment. They lack the genetic diversity of wild fish that provides insurance against fisheries collapses. Hatcheries have been used for many years in an attempt to increase catch in the over $3 billion Pacific salmon commercial fishing industry and to offset losses of wild salmon that have suffered serious declines due to dams and habitat degradation. “These studies suggest that even more caution is needed to make sure hatchery programs keep wild salmon safe, and don’t inadvertently hurt the long term potential of salmon runs,” says Rand. Since the mid-1970s, large increases in hatchery programs in the U.S., Canada, Russia and Japan have released billions of fish into the water. And the increasing global demand for salmon has resulted in calls to further expand hatchery production, especially in Russia and Alaska. In a 2010 open letter to Alaska hatcheries, seafood processors proposed increasing pink salmon hatchery returns by 25%-115% over the next five years. Similarly, Russian hatchery managers stated in 2010 that Russia is planning to build 23 new hatcheries that would increase the country’s hatchery production by 66% or 680 million fish. “The scale and magnitude of our current hatchery production system is enormous,” says Rand. “Five billion juvenile salmon are released each year worldwide, and the prospect of additional increases in hatchery production is worrisome for the long-term survival of wild salmon.” Not Just a Local Problem Scientists are also uncovering surprising interactions on an international scale. One of the new studies indicates that chum salmon (a type of Pacific salmon) released from hatcheries in Asia, mostly from Japan, have played a significant role in causing declines in a wild chum salmon population in remote western Alaska, 2500 miles away. “Genetic data show that these fish share the same feeding grounds in the open waters of the Bering Sea and North Pacific Ocean,” says author Greg Ruggerone of Natural Resources Consultants. “With billions of hatchery chum released each year, the abundance of adult chum salmon from hatcheries is now much greater than wild chum salmon, so it is not all that surprising that we are seeing evidence of competition in the North Pacific.” This competition is likely to get tougher with predicted changes in ocean conditions. Recent climate patterns have made ocean conditions temporarily favorable enough to support large populations of salmon, but as these patterns shift, the amount of food in the ocean available for salmon could drop significantly, making it even harder for wild populations to survive. These results have caused many scientists to point to the need for a new international agreement or treaty to address the expansion of hatchery salmon in the open waters of the North Pacific. Many industry leaders, academic scientists and government agencies also highlight the importance of more research to understand the full impact of hatchery fish on wild salmon. “Wild salmon represent the backbone of the Alaska salmon fishery,” says Stew Grant of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, a contributing author to the special issue. “We need more information about the impacts of hatchery salmon entering our wild salmon rivers.” “There is no substitute for wild salmon. They must be our first priority,” says Guido Rahr, President of the Wild Salmon Center. “Wild salmon are an important part of local culture and a cornerstone of economic health for fishing communities. And once you lose the resilience that wild salmon contribute to our salmon fisheries, it’s almost impossible to bring it back. Given these new findings, we urge fishery managers across the North Pacific to examine the science and err on the side of caution when considering hatchery practices and expansions.” Thanks to Salmon News.Net for up to the minute Salmon News, Facts and Threats!!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Why Should You Care? Salmon populations having been dropping in the Columbia River Basin from the estimated 16 million to 8 million that returned annually 150 years ago. In the Pacific Northwest as a whole, 106 salmon stocks have become extinct. Fish are gone entirely from almost 40 percent of their historic rivers. Most of the others are at risk. Salmon numbers are severely depressed from San Francisco to the Canadian border. Wild stocks dropped so far that, beginning with the Snake River sockeye salmon in 1991, 13 species of salmon were listed as threatened or endangered. In addition to sockeye, Chinook and Steelhead have also been listed as threatened. The Pacific Northwest has been plagued by 150 years of promises, half-baked theories, fights, lawsuits and wishful thinking about salmon, a legacy as complex and convoluted as thinking about race in the South. Salmon negotiators come to the table burdened with as much history and politics as those in the Balkans, the Middle East or Ireland. That has forced the Pacific Northwest to restrict all sorts of activities that harm salmon, including irrigated farming, fishing, logging, streamside development and barge transportation. Most of all it has focused attention on the hydroelectric dams on the Columbia and Snake rivers that have been among the most prolific juvenile salmon killers. Some salmon are chopped up or injured in the hydroelectric turbines of the dams; others are eaten by predators in the slow-moving reservoirs created by the dams. Some are threatened by GMO modified farmed salmon being released into the wild and mating with native salmon, thereby weakening the species. Some juvenile fish are scooped up and loaded onto barges and hauled below the last dam on the Columbia River and die in transit. Some have been affected by logging, farming, streamside development and urban pollution. Some have been affected by overfishing. What it all boils down to is that what man has done, man can undo, and we just have to take action. Now. First of all, no one else has published this type of book, with this type of appeal to a global audience in over 15 years. Most of the books published are technical and while they are technically great, they can not engage a variety of people. This book would engage people from children to senior citizens, people who are highly educated, to grade school children. That is our goal, total engagement. Secondly, why shouldn’t I? Honestly? I have roots in the Pacific Northwest. Having lived up there a number of years I was blessed with the opportunity to not only witness several salmon seasons, but to watch Orcas hunt salmon across Puget Sound. That’s an experience that everyone should get to have in their lifetime. I also believe that GMO farm raised salmon have no place in our rivers and oceans. This is one place Monsanto does not belong. Farmed salmon is being fed GMO feed. When they are released or “escape” they mate with native stock and weaken it dramatically. When larger predatory animals eat this GMO salmon they too are affected. The poisoning of native stock and larger predators has to stop. This is just one of many topics that we will cover in the book. But in order to make this book a reality….we need your help. What we need from you! It is time to bring to a wider audience the issues facing the salmon populations of the world. We need your support to make this happen. While we have all contributed time, talents and our own money to this project, we would like to get more people involved. We have plans to distribute this book free of charge to schools, and distribute any profits made from the book directly back to organizations dedicated to saving the salmon of the world. So, donate what you can, spread the word on our project and help us educate people on the dangers facing our salmon, before they too are extinct. Here's the link!!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

In order to donate directly to the cause, donate here!!

Re-submitted to Kickstarter

We've resubmitted our project to Kickstarter. We have set our goal to $4,000.00 to fund 2 weeks worth of research in the Pacific Northwest. As soon as Kickstarter approves it, I'll post the link so that we can get it out to the world!!!
Thank you for all of your help and support!!

Friday, May 11, 2012

The Biggest Threat to Salmon.

Nothing threatens the salmon’s future more then human development. Stream channels, road construction, timber harvesting, and mining all degrade salmon spawning and rearing habitats. Salmon stocks have drastically declined because of these. Logging areas around streams where salmon live reduces the shade and nutrients that salmon eggs greatly need, so starving the developing eggs. Also it increases the amount of silt in the water which chokes the developing eggs and reduces young salmons’ survival during their migration to the ocean. Controlling all these things will help the salmon make a drastic comeback.
The biggest threat of all to salmon is dams, which kill 50% of young salmon and 20% of adult salmon. Dams and reservoirs make salmon journeys even harder and more hazardous and block the movement of salmon which is the main reason why stocks have declined. They have to navigate through spinning turbine blades and high water pressure that kill and injure salmon. Salmon can also get lost in reservoirs which can make a 2-week journey into a 3-month journey. In Washington’s Snake and Columbia rivers, salmon must pass through 8 dams which kill 80-95% of salmon! Also 70% of these two major rivers which is about 482 miles have been converted into reservoirs! Most scientists agree and I think you will too, that removing dams is the only option to save salmon stocks. So by controlling salmon habitat degradation, improving water flow speeds, lowering water temperature, and removing dams the salmon are sure to have a brighter future ahead.

This is why the Rogue Waters project is critical. We have got to start educating and informing people of the dangers of total salmon decimation.

However, salmon do not transport nutrients unidirectionally from oceans to fresh waters as adults returning to spawn. The migration of salmon smolts from fresh waters to the ocean represents a flow of nutrients from fresh waters to the ocean. The term smolt refers to juvenile salmon that have undergone the physiological and behavioral changes that occur prior to migration to marine or estuarine ecosystems (Groot and Margolis 1991). Juveniles of some species and populations of salmon migrate out of fresh waters immediately after emerging , while other species and populations spend up to several years in fresh waters prior to migration (Groot and Margolis 1991).

This aspect of nutrient transport by anadromous salmon is usually ignored (e.g., Larkin and Slaney 1997; Gresh et al. 2000), or dismissed by citing that from 95% to over 99% of the mass of anadromous salmon is acquired in the ocean, implying that smolt nutrient export from fresh waters is inconsequential. However, this assumes that the number of smolts leaving fresh waters is equal to the number of adults returning to fresh waters, even though ocean mortality of smolts is often substantial (e.g., >80%; Burgner 1991). To the best of our knowledge, no study has systematically analyzed the export of nutrients from freshwater systems by
smolts across systems and years. However, in previous studies of a specific system it has been estimated that smolts export from 6.7% to 24.2% of the nutrients that their parents imported (Donaldson 1967; Naiman et al. 2002). Thus, how much of the nutrients imported to fresh waters by returning adults is exported by out-migrating smolts remains unknown. In other words, while previous studies have quantified the nutrients that adult salmon transport to fresh waters (Larkin and Slaney 1997; Schmidt et al. 1998; Gresh et al. 2000), we do not know how salmon impact net nutrient transport. For these reasons researchers quantified the relative magnitudes of nutrient transport by out-migrating smolts and returning adult sockeye salmon. Using historical smolt and adult escapement data from four major sockeye salmon nursery systems in Alaska, there researchers calculated the amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus that anadromous sockeye salmon import to and export from fresh waters, using a total of 76 years of data from four different systems. Based on these calculations, we found that sockeye salmon are consistent net importers of nutrients to fresh waters, but that out-migrating smolts often export a substantial fraction of the nutrients that their parents imported, and that the percentage exported varies considerably across space and time. 

Long story short, the salmon are the honey bees of the rivers, streams and estuaries. Without them nutrients are not carried where they are needed. Man is their greatest threat.Shouldn't we then be their greatest hope?