Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Salmon to be Scarce

Individual examples of ecological trouble may not be isolated. It's hard to tell what each one may mean, and tempting to see each new small disaster as a segment of a bigger one. In the news lately is word of the collapse of salmon fishing on the west coast. Is it isolated? A portent?

The following paragraphs from the NY Times article Chinook Salmon Vanish Without a Trace lay out the problem:

"The Chinook salmon that swim upstream to spawn in the fall, the most robust run in the Sacramento River, have disappeared. The almost complete collapse of the richest and most dependable source of Chinook salmon south of Alaska left gloomy fisheries experts struggling for reliable explanations — and coming up dry.

"Whatever the cause, there was widespread agreement among those attending a five-day meeting of the Pacific Fisheries Management Council here last week that the regional $150 million fishery, which usually opens for the four-month season on May 1, is almost certain to remain closed this year from northern Oregon to the Mexican border. A final decision on salmon fishing in the area is expected next month.

"As a result, Chinook, or king salmon, the most prized species of Pacific wild salmon, will be hard to come by until the Alaskan season opens in July. Even then, wild Chinook are likely to be very expensive in markets and restaurants nationwide."

On one trip up the California coast, I ate salmon in every restaurant. I ate smoked salmon and fresh salmon, breakfast salmon and dinner salmon. I loved crossing the big viaducts in sight of the ocean, where the freeway spanned the streams coming down from the hillsides above us. I suppose that the fish swam up these waterways to spawn. That was years ago, and the fishing seemed innocent, not threatening the environment.

The puzzle of the articles I've read about this collapse is that even now, they don't know if the source of the problem is fishing, if it's something about the way the environment has been treated, or if it's some combination of fatal events. We humans must be at fault: but we may never know the details.

UPDATE: see also Gourmet magazine --
Salmon Collapse by Barry Estabrook


Jen of A2eatwrite said...

This is incredibly sad. And scary.

David said...

I agree that we should not consider these ecological problems in isolation. If we take a step back from the Chinook salmon issue and consider man’s relationship with the environment in general, then I believe we can see a cause. Man's egoistic nature and insatiable desire for wealth drives us to go to any limits to make profits, even if it means we farm species out of existence, destroy our own environment and poison ourselves in the process.
What can we do ? I have been reading Michael Laitman's blog who advises "The only thing we need to do is balance ourselves with nature"