I hope TOL will have some ODFW or PFMC fisheries folks as guests on Monday. The salmon situation is difficult enough without having uninformed opinions being used to generate heated discussion. Everyone, most especially fishermen, want the salmon populations to recover and prosper.
No ocean fishing will be one of 3 alternatives, the other two options will pprobably have very limited (both number of fish and number of days) options for salmon fishing.
Be very creful comparing historical catches of salmon, both chinook and coho. There are not as many hatcheries now as a few years ago and they don't produce nearly as many smolts as they did in the fairly recent past. Also, looking at historical data shows the salmon populations are cyclical.
At the preseason salmon meeting in Newport on March 6, the fisheries folks attributed some of the salmon decline to poor ocean conditions the past few years, especially in 2005. The warmer water we've had is not good for salmon. According to the commercial fishermen in attendance, other factors contributing to the decline of the salmon population included: removal of water from rivers in California, especially the Sacramento River; smolt predation by terns and coromorants; adult predation by seals and sea lions in the oceans, bays, and rivers; predation by Humboldt squid; salmon by-catch by factory ships off Oregon; foreign fishing boats; by-catch by pollack trawlers in Alaskan waters (last year they had a salmon by-catch of 230,000 chinook, the historical high); removal of too many adult salmon from some rivers; and conditions in rivers and streams during and after spawning.
Check the PFMC and ODFW websites for the schedule for determing the salmon season. Whichever alternative is eventually adopted by the Fish and Wildlife Commission will be within the guidlines established by PFMC and ODFW fisheries scientists to ensure sufficient escapement.
While both sport and commercial fishermen will suffer because of the low salmon numbers, for the commercial fishermen this is a disaster.
Of course, it is a necessary step to curtail much of the ocean fishing season with this kind of crisis in our face. However, just as ocean fishing has very little to do with the cause, stopping fishing will not be a long-term solution to the most important root cause.
Just as the Klamath die-off a few years ago was caused by poor in-river flows, the Sacramento / Central Valley salmon crisis is primarily related to mis-management of water in the river / delta. Much of that ecosystem is collapsing, because so much fresh water is being diverted south. And the Governor is at this very moment promising southern CA that they will have more water, via another canal / diversion project.
From a regulatory standpoint, the PFMC, and the (CA) state Dept of Fish & Game have little to no authority over water management. Therein lies the inter-agency problem. All the fishery management agencies can do is regulate fishing; they can not force more water for the Sac delta.
Have no fear though - get ready for the un-informed, mis-directed statements about how mankind has over-fished the oceans once again and caused this salmon collapse.
Glad to see you lined up some fisheries folks as guests, thanks, it will elevate the discussion!
Salmon need healthy oceans and healthy streams. Healthy streams need healthy watershed. In Oregon the rules governing logging on state and private lands are spelled out in the Forest Practices Act. Under this act it is legal to log within 20 feet of a large, fish bearing stream, even on steep slopes. Many fish experts say the margin should optimally be 150 ft, especially with steep slopes. It is time for us to reevaluate our priorities, and for our citizens and our local environmental organizations to work to get the Forest Practices Act rewritten to reflect our need to protect our salmon and optimize our forest buffer against global warming. We need to stop railing at the logging companies and direct our energy to the regulations which make logging up to 20 feet from a large, fish bearing stream legal.
The Forest Practices Act in theory should change with changing needs and circumstances. Things were much worse before we had the Forest Practices Act to provide some protection and guidance. The Oregon Board of Forestry is charged with monitoring the need for change. So, why aren?t our local environmental organizations raising questions about the Forest Practices Act? Why have I never been asked to sign a petition to change the Forest Practices Act so our streams and salmon are better protected? Why have I not heard any candidate for state office talk about changes needed to the Forest Practices Act? Oregon may not be able to control what the logging industry can do on Federal lands, but we can control what is permitted on our state and private land. I live in a rural area, and have watched multiple bouts of logging down to 20ft from the largest fish bearing streams that feed into the Sandy River. It is happening every day on a large scale. We need to stop accepting the ?no significant impact? used to justify these practices, and demand either change or solid data to show that our timber harvesting practices are not a significant factor in the decline of the salmon.
In the long run we need to seek a win-win solution between our logging industry and our environmental priorities. We need to change the way we harvest our forests before it is too late for the salmon. Although there are undoubtedly many factors contributing to the decline of the salmon, this is one we Oregonians have been ignoring too long.
ADD: The Forest Practices Act is complicated, has helped protect our forests compared to when we had no rules, and I have over simplified it due to the need for brevity. But the bottom line is that the salmon are threatened and global warming is changing our priorities in maintenance of our forests, and it is time to bring the Forest Practices Act in line with these new priorities.
Thirty years ago lots of Western Oregon was subjected to massive clearcutting and massive aerial spraying of the poisons, phenoxy herbicides 2,4-D and 2,4,5-T, both of which left behind, after their devastating immediate health and environmental effects, their manufacturing byproduct TCDD dioxin. TCDD Dioxin remains as a deadly, cancer-causing, mutagenous toxin in the environment FOREVER, attaches to sediment and over time migrated into the watersheds?springs, creeks, river and on. Salmon has always and still spawns in coastal mountain creeks on gravel beds and then migrates down into coastal rivers and eventually the Pacific Ocean, only to return to their EXACT spawning beds to lay and fertilize their eggs.
NOAA, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association's Ph.D. scientist, Scott Hetch, has stated that NOAA does not consider TCDD dioxin a 'pesticide', but instead a 'POP' (persistent organic pollutant in the environment), so therefore NOAA does not test for TCDD dioxin as a part of their exploration into how poison pesticides effect fish.
As a side note, 2,4-D is still presently being used regularly on private timber clearcuts and timber operations throughout Oregon, and TCDD dioxin is still a manufacturing byproduct and major health and environmental problem.
I wonder what effect, if any, TDCC dioxin has on the current, devastatingly low number of returning salmon which is causing the current shutdown of West Coast fisheries.
I also, wonder why NOAA or some other Federal or Oregon State agency is NOT exploring and testing for the presence and possible impact of TCDD dioxin on salmon and other fisheries.
In Waldport where the Alsea River drains is the drainage basin in the middle of the 'Pacific Ocean dead zone', and there are extremely many very, unusual cases of illness that are plaguing this community. So, I also wonder if the Pacific Ocean 'dead zone' located off the central Oregon coast between Reedsport and Lincoln City might have, in addition to the already researched and confirmed ocean up-welling and global warming effects, some relationship to the migration of TCDD dioxin into those watersheds, which, in fact, were the ones mostly heavily sprayed with 2,4-D and 2,4,5-T thirty years ago?
My expressed concerns address issue areas that have not yet been explored by experts or officials in the discovery of what is causing the low return of salmon, but these do need immediate serious inquiry and research by those very people and query by serious journalists.
Amy Pincus Merwin
Hello, My wife received a cup with an OPB logo on it, and I discovered that she recently donated money the OPB radio talk show. Today she came home and mentioned that you are going to be speaking on the salmon crisis. I'm a commercial fisherman and would like to make a comment or two. Sadly, I will be busy during your program, but hopefully this will help just a bit. The comments by Ron, Mark, CBonner, and Amy are excellent points. My figures for the Alaska Polluck by-catch of salmon was over 100,000 salmon (See Pacific Fishing Mag.'s most recent issue.) I know if there numbers reported are over 100,000 fish, you can easily double the number of fish killed. When we salmon trollers catch ocean-caught salmon with net marks on them, you know where they got them from.
I agree that we are about to enter a horrible crisis. Here are some of my thoughts concerning the dwindling salmon returns. My resume goes back to my birth in regards to salmon, so I speak from the heart as well as the head. I want to speak for the salmon and the salmon troller. Natural predators, dams, pollution, ocean conditions, over-fishing, water usage rights, treaty promises, etc... . This list can be broken down, dissected, and categorized to death, but the truth of the matter is that we as salmon trollers have been taking a hit for the dramatic declines, when other user/influence groups have not been subjected to same accountability. The truth is clear. Loggers have done their damage. Have you ever seen fog lifting off an old growth canopy? You sure won't see it doing the same off a clearcut. That fog and the forest are cooling down the water to meet the salmon's level of tolerance. That is a must discussion. The dams are also seriously contributing to water warming.
The Caspian terns and cormorants at the mouth of the Columbia River have eaten on average between 12 and 15 million salmon each year for the past five years. This science does not consider any other rivers, so you can imagine the total coastal numbers. Tens of millions of salmon are consumed by other birds such as the gulls. Where birds are overpopulated, there needs to be kill-offs. Sad, but necessary. The same can be said for the water lions who happen to be way out of balance in regards to numbers of salmon consumed compared to us fishermen. Yes, they rely on fish for their subsistence, but they like us can also find other types of fish food. They know where the pickings easy, as do we. They are also way out of balance in regards to nature and absolutely need to be controlled. Yes, there could be more of them if the dams are removed and runs restored to original numbers, but that's not going to happen in the foreseeable future, so the lions need to be kept in balance by drastic measures.
There have been multiple incidents where the Pacific Whiting fleet has been witnessed dragging their gear right through the troll fleet, when that troll fleet was fishing on concentrated stocks of king salmon located inside the 100 fathom curve. I have had them drag their gears right alongside me inside of fifty fathoms, even having to change my course when realizing I would lose my gear if I didn't. 1/4 inch wire doesn't stand a chance against two inch cable. It's no surprise that salmon immediately disappear after the Hake fleet passes through. ANOTHER THOUGHT! Will the wealthy Whiting fleet continue to fish and be allowed tens of thousands of salmon, even if the trollers are not allowed to fish. That's what happened in 2006 and 2007. They fish under different rules. Ridiculous! We need to not allow the Whiting fleet to fish inside 100 fathoms. This should include both shore-based and off-shore fleets. This needs to be closely regulated and if the law is broken, there needs to be accountability.
We need to absolutely enforce the rule about dumping Pacific Whiting waste and waste waters outside the 100 fathom curve. The onshore processing plants ship their waste and waste-water out to sea and regularly this waste is dumped inside 100 fathoms. The dumping of wastes and waste water inside the 100 fathom curve is causing large oxygen depleted zones that kill everything that lives. Has that possibility been studied? You can ask any fisherman about the awful smell coming off areas of ocean as large as twenty square miles and discolored ocean water the same size, and they will all point their fingers at the waste and waste waters coming from coming from shore based plants and factory trawlers. As one fisherman told me yesterday, "I'm not just blowing smoke. These are absolutely the facts." The unreported incidental take of salmon and the polluting of the ocean by this user group seems out of control. Yes, they are providing huge bucks and megatons of food to our economic structure, but at what cost.
The same can be said for the power companies, farmers, tugboat companies, and tourism industries who use the dams for personal exploit. The dams are ultimately the worst enemy of salmon. They have killed off literally every huge run of the upriver biggest and best stocks of salmon. How about the Royal Chinook salmon, no more due to dams, or the great Spring Run of the Klamath, GONE. At the least, there needs to be a huge concentrated effort toward mitigation/hatchery projects to restore the fish. I heard one suggestion that we need to produce fish, fish, and more fish. Why not produce hundreds of million of fish? The last remaining "Wild" salmon aren't really wild. It is riduculous to think that the hand of man hasn't already ruined what truly wild fish that what once existed. The salmon will naturally evolve if enough of them are allowed to hatch. Why are sport fishermen going up past hatcheries and clubbing fin-clipped hatchery fish? These fish are going back to their natural instincts, our help not needed. Eventually the strongest will survive. We need to flood every stream and creek and river and lake with salmon. Let's face it, this is the answer. Forget about restoring the natural runs, when it is impossible to breach the dams and return to the natural. Coulee ain't coming down. Wouldn't it be better to see 100 million twenty-eight inch ocean run salmon return to our rivers, rather than two hapless steelhead coming up through the dams of the Snake. If you're not going to remove the dams, flood the rivers with salmon. Put more effort into making the passage to the ocean, at the least, not a death roll. Go to the federal government and show them how major projects using hatcheries would bring wealth to their plates. That's the ticket. The natural spawners should still be part of the plan, but without total dam removal, the idea of saving natural runs is an oxymoron. It can't happen without man's interference, so flood the rivers with salmon.
In closing, our dominion is over the earth and all the resources of the earth, and our responsibility is to use good judgement in our choices. It's not too late. The salmon are notoriously stubborn creatures, who somehow have overcome the gauntlet of adversities. We need to act quickly to help them to recover. Genetically, if they ever do have the old natural to go back to, it has been proven that somehow the big boys will evolve and rather quickly at that. How? That's in the Creator's hands, yet we are still given a part(: Go to work. There is so much more to share, but this should give you a little to mention on your show. Hope I can get a copy of what was said.
This problem is like a barrel with staves full of knotholes. You can pick your favorite stave and plug the holes in it but the other holes still leak and the barrel will not hold wine.
It is also very easy to conflate information and draw illogical conclusions. We are becoming better observers with new technology. Watching an ocean temperature change from an infrared satellite and drawing conclusions about the last 100 years is pretty illogical.
For the salmon there are many staves in the barrel. As a fisherman I remember good years and bad, plentiful salmon summers and summers of no fishing at all. What we need is honesty. Can we ignore the fact that we have changed many of the river systems with dams? Can we ignore bycatch? Can we ignore pollution? Or treaties that allow non selective fishing methods? And others who use those treaty rights to justify their *rights* to use the same non selective methods?
The tendency is for each user group to blame the others.
The barrel leaks .. lets start over.
Questions for your guests:
1. I've heard work was done to collect tags from the island on which the terns nest. What is the number of tags collected and from that number, what are the estimates of the total number of salmon smolts eaten by the terns?(not all smolts have tags in them!) also, any idea how many tags were deposited elsewhere by the birds?
Do winter conditions such as heavy rainfall and floods make a difference in salmon populations 3, 4, 5, or 6 years later?
If ocean conditions are a major cause of the salmon decline, then
1. why are some of the springer runs doing reasonably well?
2. do springers spawn at a sigficantly different time than the fall run chinook?
3. do "springer" smolts enter the ocean at a different time than smolts from the fall fish? If so, could this make a significant difference in their survival rate?
Would it be possible to set up some sort of partial wild, partial farmed hatchery, some where up river to keep stocks up, then release these fish into the river at the normal time they would normally head down river to spawn.
Earlier, Rod More stated that the Council must balance ecological and economic concerns. However, it's not really a balance because the Magnuson-Stevens Act prioritizes conservation above economic considerations.
The Magnuson-Stevens Act mandates in National Standard 8 that conservation measures take into account the economic and social impact on communities, and minimize those impacts to extent practicable.
As a law student at Lewis and Clark, I wonder whether it really "practicable" to weigh any economic considerations when salmon stocks are this low? Given the lack of data and sharp drop in numbers, isn't a complete ban the more prudent approach?
Dave, only one of the posters so far is a commercial fisherman or at least only one has identified himself as such. I'm a sport fisherman and as much I really want to be able to fish for salmon this year, I want even more for the salmon populations to be in good health in future years. So I want the fisheries managers to do what is necessary for the salmon population.
The impact on the coast --and inland-- will likely be huge, for the commercial fisherman it will be a disaster. But other segments of the economy will also suffer. i and other sports fishermen won't make as many trips to the coast as in years that we can fish for salmon. That means less $ spent for motels, food, fishing gear, boat maintenance, boat gear, gas, diesel, and also less spent by familes of fishermen in shops and other tourist attractions while the fisher in the family is out fishing. And this will occur while the economy is in a recession which will compound the difficulties for the coastal economy.
Ditto.... not sure why Mr Miller referred to "most of the posts (are) by commercial fishermen."
BTW, as fishermen shift effort from salmon to other species, there will be a "domino effect" such as:
1. More commercial effort on albacore, which will drive the ex-vessel price down, or even cause the market to be flooded (in which case they stop buying).
2. More sport / charter effort on nearshore rockfish, which increases the odds of the black rockfish quota being hit early in the year (such as the pre-Labor Day shut down a few years back).
My mistake. I apologize.
And please: call me Dave!
I've worked in the fish processing industry and have a few storries. Here's a few anecdotes:
1) A first mate on my processing vessel, who had worked the industry for 25 years, told me that fisheries began to decline on the introduction of factory trawlers.
2) The vessel I was on dumped overboard several pallets of used oil, paint thinner and degreaser. This took place in the middle of the night roughly 20 miles off the Alaskan coast.
3) Fishereis continue even though the fish are not immediately needed or used for food. They are being caught, processed and put into deep freeze for extended storage. At the time I was fishing I was told that there was enough salmon in storage to last the Japanese 7 years.
My opinion is that we are up against greed and small time jobs are being used as a smokescreen for the issue.
My prediction: The fisheries will continue to decline.
I'm a commercial salmon fisherman out of Moss Landing,CA. I caught large fish early in the season that lead me to believe these fish are staying in the ocean verses returning to spawn in the poor conditions. There were very few 'cookie cutter' fish. My average weight was 25+ lb.
With no season this year I'm not sure I'll be able to pay slip fees with no income from salmon. California Fish and Game still expect me to pay my license/permit fees or I lose my Salmon Vessel Permit on the boat permanately.
Resident Commercial License- $112.75
Resident Commercial Boat Registration- $296.00
Salmon Vessel Permit- $35.50
Commercial Fishing Salmon Stamp- $85.00
Add on to that the 12 month slip fees of $235.00 per month, property taxes and costs to maintain the vessel in an ocean environment for a year.
This will eventually put every boat in the 'mosquito fleet' out of business. We have no other fishery to turn to for income due to the size of our vessels.
What about atlantic salmon farming? This is a huge industry in BC (especially around Vancouver Island) and also in Puget Sound. There is evidence that escaped atlantic salmon are effectively competing with native species in spawning streams and that the high concentrations of fish in the farms contributes to disease in wild salmon in the areas of the farms. Nobody really knows how many of these fish escape because the companies that run them aren't required to report those losses. What effects does your guest think this atlantic salmon farming may be having on wild pacific salmon? Also a side note: what is the status of the Alaska fishery? Are they in bad shape too?
Aren't you guys just quibbling over the leftover crumbs of wild fish stocks? A decade or so ago the Bonneville Power Administration ran ads in The Oregonian that said the Columbia fish runs around the year 1900 ran around 300,000,000, that's three hundred million! And now you're happy to call a run good when it hits 750,000 or so? What happened to the other two hundred and ninety nine or so million?
I suggest there is an elephant in the room going unnoticed!
Time shift! It is now Wednesday, 30 July 2008 and I have since been presented with several credible sources that say the historic runs were estimated to be about 11 to 16 million fish. So I stand corrected, I believe that my 300 million figure was wrong. I don't know if the ad was wrong, a typo, or my memory was wrong but either way it was wrong.
Tom, Good point and you are absolutely right. It is, plain and simple, commercial overfishing. I've seen it first-hand. For all the supposed regulations, the industry is remarkably unregulated - how does anyone patrol the high-seas? There's a lot of theft and unfair practices abounding and, I suspect, most in the industry participate. What floors me is the sea-lion smoke screen. You can read about fishery collapses worldwide and the effect it has on apex predators and the ecosystem as a whole. The sea-lions aren't poaching fish, they're following the dwindling food supply. The "robust" numbers mentioned in the show are relative. Like the point you made in your comment, how is 750,000 salmon considered a healthy run when it's a fraction of a percent of what used to be? Get set, we'll fish everything out and the lunkheads arguing "jobs" to confuse the issue will then truly have to find other work. What's more, they will have diminished the quality of life for everyone else...
Unregulated fishing and Dams, dams, dams, dams, dams, dams!
Oh, and by the way, did I forget to mention dams?
There are lots of pet theories about what's causing this year's Sacramento salmon disaster: overfishing, timber cutting, dioxin poisoning, dams, delta pumps and water withdrawals, predation (by humboldt squid, sea lions, striped bass and terns, to name a few suspects) and global warming. Really, they all contribute to the problem and all have played a part in the long, slow demise of salmon.
Scientists seem to think that the poor ocean conditions in the summer of 2005, involving anemic cold-water upwellings and food chain productivity , may have lead to the disastrous collapse of the Sacramento population that we're seeing now. (The fish populations all along the West Coast seem to have been impacted to some extent.) But there's no doubt that the collapse on the Sacramento wouldn't be so bad if things weren't terrible already.
Closing the fishing season is a necessary emergency step that will probably break many fishermen and fishing-related businesses (that would be broken in any case, due to a simple lack of anything to catch) In turn, the fishery may lose many of its strongest, most interested advocates. Who will be left fighting to reverse the deluge of problems facing salmon? Do we have the political will to restore salmon populations to levels that will let them survive another hungry summer at sea?
Everyone with a pet theory, to some extent, is right. But if restoration of this species is a priority, we need to address ALL of the problems facing these fish, and not pretend there is any one cause or a single convenient solution.
John, Overfishing is a small piece of the puzzle, when you consider Tom's numbers. The facts are that the dams have destroyed salmon runs, not fishermen. It is the owners of the dams and the federal government who are responsible for putting in mitigation(replacement) stocks on an annual basis. They have neglected to do what they have promised. That is the action that needs to be taken. More hatchery fish, like it or not, unless you choose to remove the dams.
I disagree with the killing of sea lions by the NMFS, the have failed to meet legal standards and to demonstrate necessary criteria for killing sea lions.
Even though the Bonneville Dam task force was provided with information that shows some sea lions eat many more salmon than others, the criteria for killing a sea lion is any animal who has been seen eating salmonids between January 1 and May 31 of any year and has been seen below the dam for any 5 days (either consecutively, or within a season or over multiple years). This low threshold means that those killed may not even be those who eat the most fish.
The NMFS cannot satisfy the MMPA requirement that the predation is having a ?significant negative impact? on the decline or recovery of the fish. They estimate that sea lions eat between 2-4% of the runs but admit that the dam itself kills 2-16% of the adult fish and ?harvest? by fishermen is allowed at levels between 4-17% each year. It is not clear why these higher levels are allowable but levels of 4% or less from sea lion predation warrant lethal measures. The Marine Mammal Commission recommended that NMFS calculate the extent to which pinniped predation increases extinction risk or delays the recovery of salmon, but NMFS declined to do this.
The NMFS acknowledges that the number of sea lions proposed to be killed is a small fraction of those in the river who can move upstream to replace them. They estimate over a thousand sea lions between the mouth of the River and Bonneville Dam.
The NMFS cannot say to what degree killing the sea lions will help the fish. After estimating that the number of fish that will be saved is only a 0.5%-7% maximum improvement, they then admit ?actual numbers may be lower because eventually new sea lions would likely take the place of those that have been removed.? (EA page 5-1) They also admit that because of this uncertainty they cannot project ?a reliable estimate of any decrease in pinniped predation (and corresponding increase in salmonid survival.? (EA page 4-11)
Andrea, Sea Lions are a major problem, but I agree that the dams are ultimately the source of this problem. The lions will go where there are easy pickings. The strongest will secure the best hunting grounds. Sadly that is at the base of a dam, where sturgeon also are trapped. Once again, the issue has been skirted. Time to reintroduce massive hatchery mitigation stocks, so there will be plenty of salmon for all. Forget about endangered runs, as long as there are dams.
Comments are now closed.