Sunday, February 14, 2010

Salmon Boom and Bust

Large returns of salmon throughout the region this past summer and fall have led to a surge of media attention focused on the short term abundance. This short term perspective looses sight of the fundemental fact that salmon populations are prone to highly variable abundance and if we only look at a single year we cannot understand the long term status of salmon populations around the area. A good article in the Oregonian last week brings attention to this very fact, and the fact that sooner rather than later excellent ocean conditions will return to more normal or poor conditions. Periods of high productivity are a time when salmon populations can make some recovery, expanding in diversity, distribution and abundance. However it is during the subsequent downturn that management, and policy are truly put to the test. The federal government has recently been comforted by excellent returns of listed salmon and steelhead to the Snake and Upper Columbia, and this fall the Obama administration fell well short of their responsibility to recover these stocks, likely because of the misconception that these populations are recovering. We should get a much better picture of the status of Snake and Upper Columbia salmon over the next decade and it is essential that we have the foresight to be cautious in management actions to protect listed fish, even during boom times.

Check out the article here:

and a Columbia Basin Bulletin article on the preseason Coho forecast for 2010. Returns are predicted to fall more than 60%:

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