27 Dec 2010, 2:28pm
Salmon counts Salmon science
by admin

Are Overpaid Fish Biologists Stuck On Stupid?

Note: To be fair, the fish biologist bafflement reported by the MSM may be in the minds of science-challenged enviro-journo-listas only. — Editor and headline writer Mike D.

by Ken Schlichte

Why Did Salmon Return After Declining for 20 Years?, reposted from The Environmental Magazine into the Tacoma News Tribune [here], includes the following statements:

The miraculous sockeye salmon run in western Canada’s Fraser River watershed in the summer and fall of 2010 — indeed the biggest run in 97 years — still has fishers, researchers and fishery managers baffled. Just a year earlier only one million fish returned to spawn. No one seems to be able to say for sure what caused the massive 2010 run, but most agree that it probably had to do with the very favorable water conditions that were present in 2008 when the sockeyes were juveniles. “They’re very vulnerable at that stage of their life,” reports John Reynolds, a salmon conservation expert at Canada’s Simon Fraser University.”


Generally speaking, scientists and environmentalists are well aware of why wild West Coast salmon runs have been declining over the past century: namely pollution at almost every inch along the thousand mile river-to-sea-and-back underwater journey, overfishing in both rivers and the ocean, and man-made obstructions to fish passage. But environmentalists are now optimistic that the huge 2010 sockeye run is a sign of better times ahead. Perhaps improved logging practices, a resurgence in organic farming, new protections for upstream habitat or restrained commercial fishing catch limits — or some combination thereof — has begun to make a difference in salmon survival.

This article has suggested reasons for the large 2010 Fraser River sockeye salmon run and also suggested the reasons (namely water pollution, overfishing and dams) for the declines in West Coast salmon runs over the past century. Throughout this article, however, there is no mention of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, the natural cycle of temperature shifts in the Northeast Pacific that has significant influences on West Coast salmon runs. The influence of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation on West Coast salmon runs is discussed in the statements and the figure referenced below from the NOAA Northwest Fisheries Science Center [here]

Dr. Nathan Mantua and his colleagues were the first to show that adult salmon catches in the Northeast Pacific were correlated with the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (Mantua et al. 1997). They noted that in the Pacific Northwest, the cool PDO years of 1947-1976 coincided with high returns of Chinook and coho salmon to Oregon rivers. Conversely, during the warm PDO cycle that followed (1977-1998), salmon numbers declined steadily.


Adult spring Chinook runs have declined recently, beginning with returns of fish that went to sea in 2003 and experienced warm ocean conditions, indicated by the positive PDO signal during 2003 to 2007. Forecasts for returns in 2010 are for large numbers of fish, and again, these anticipated returns are associated with the strongly negative PDO (and cold ocean) in effect for juvenile Chinook and coho that entered the ocean in spring 2008.

Please see [here] Figure 2. Time series of shifts in sign of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), 1925 to 2009. Values are averaged over the months of May through September. Red bars indicate positive (warm) years; blue bars negative (cool) years. Note that 2008 was the most negative since 1956.

Environmentalists and environmental publications like The Environmental Magazine tend overemphasize the effects of human activities (including water pollution, overfishing and dams) on the environment, while ignoring the significant effects of natural variations including the Pacific Decadal Oscillation and variations in solar activity on the environment.

Note 2: Nothing has changed vis alleged “water pollution”, logging practices, organic farming, or “protections for upstream habitat”, yet salmon returns have expanded to record levels. None of those returning fish were killed by fresh water conditions, because they have been in the ocean for years. Nor were prior “changes” in fresh water conditions responsible for the expanded returns, because the salmon survived those conditions when they were smolts years ago. It is obvious and common sense that ocean conditions are the key factor in salmon return numbers.

The tweaky enviros have a political agenda that includes decimation of the economy. They use bizarre pseudo-science regarding salmon as a “justification” for their Luddite-itude, which has strong anti-prosperity roots. Oh the guilt they suffer! Or rather, false guilt is the poison they wish to inflict on the rest of society, for the most despicable reasons. — Ed. again



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