Thursday, August 27, 2009

Warming Oceans Threaten Future for Southern Sockeye Stocks

Climate change is the biggest unknown for the future of our wild salmon and steelhead. A paper published by prominent UBC researcher Scott Hinch and colleagues in the mid-1990s concluded that warming sea surface temps would result in smaller, slower growing sockeye. Slower ocean growth typically means lower ocean survival, and now some are pointing towards warming oceans as a possible factor in the catastrophically low returns to the Fraser this year. While Hinch's paper presents compelling evidence that warming ocean temperatures could mean a bleak future for Sockeye stocks in our area, the current year class of Sockeye outmigrated during a strong La Nina. This means that juvenile sockeye outmigrating during 2007 would have encountered favorable cold water conditions, and Sockeye in the Columbia system only a few hundred miles to the south saw record returns this year. One thing however is certain, the Georgia Strait and the Puget Sound ecosystems are sick. Chinook stocks have plummeted over the last 25 years, Steelhead have collapsed all around the region and Sockeye are rapidly disappearing. Without considerable changes to the way we impact the Georgia Basin through fish farming, hatchery releases, habitat degradation, and pollution we will be facing a future without the possibility of recovery for our wild salmonids. See more information on warming SST and Sockeye Salmon in the Georgia Strait online

For all the most recent news on the Fraser River Sockeye collapse check out the Canadian website Save Our Wild Salmon's news feed

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