Salmon Management in the Pacific Northwest
1. Do we, as a region and a nation, need salmon? Why or why not? When is the cost too high or priorities misplaced? The Pacific Northwest region that includes areas like in California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and southern British Columbia and the USA as a whole need salmon fish. FAQ, (unpublished) clarifies that the reason for this is that, approximately one hundred and thirty-seven species of both plants and animals depend on the salmon fish for their survival. According to Manning, (1996), there exist a mutual relationship between the forest and the salmon fish.
He states that forest need salmon fish as much as salmon fish need them. Forests gain carbon and nitrogen from the salmon fish while salmon fish gain oxygen and other nutrients from the forests. Some forest species which depend on nutrients or carbon and nitrogen gases will die if the salmon fish was to reduce in number or was to get extinct. The salmon fish is therefore very important maintaining biodiversity or ecological diversity. The cost of sustainable conservation of salmon fish is very expensive especially in the wake of the global climate change.
Salmon fish requires a very unique habitat which is large and cold. According to Lackey, (2009), billions of dollars have been used in trying to conserve salmon fish with very little success due to the global climate change. The major river; River Klamathi, where the salmon fish thrive in, has experienced serious ecological versus economic conflict with the farmers around the region preferring to utilize the water for agriculture, while the environmentalist on the other hand prefer conservation of the water for salmon conservation.
This therefore has forced the communities living around the region to continue with their farming activities but with some limit, although this also affects the development fish in this region since the farming activities impacts negatively on their growth and survival since they utilize the same water form the river for irrigation. Henry and Mote, (unpublished), are of the view that the variations in climate has affected the development of salmon fish especially the high temperatures that cause the coastal ocean waters to warm thus reducing the ability of the salmon fish to reproduce in large numbers.
The global climatic change is inevitable and however how much effort is put towards conservation of the salmon fish, it we might not be able to achieve much. The much anticipated changes in the Obama Administration has also not yielded any fruit since the policies in this administration aimed at protecting and conserving the endangered species is more or less the same as those of the previous government. The policies have leaned mostly towards production of more food through agriculture and production of electricity.
This is very dangerous for the survival of anadromous fish like salmon which depends on fresh water for hatching of its eggs. Salmon fish is of great importance to those living around the region for many reasons. Food is basic human need which in this case is derived from the salmon fish, that is, these people depend on the fish for food. It provides protein to the body, besides many other nutrients and vitamins. It’s also used in industries to manufacture variety of food products and thus it boots the economy of the region besides providing employment opportunity to these people.
Factories have been established specifically to utilize the salmon fish as the main raw material. This gives individuals from the communities living around this region and the USA as a whole, employment opportunity. Again salmon fish is viewed as a natural resource for tourism which earns the country foreign exchange. 2. In September 2002, estimates ranging from 30,000-80,000 Chinook and Coho salmon died in the Klamath River. If these fish had survived to spawn they would have comprised the eighth largest salmon run since 1978.
Why did this happen? What have been the short-term (days to weeks) and long term (months to years) effects? How could this be prevented from happening again? Lackey, (2009), states that the major cause of this was water pollution. The irrigation project which was started on River Klamath was the major cause of this massive death of Chinook and Coho salmon fish. Thos plus the many industries in the region led to the construction of many dams in the upper basin of the river which caused interference in the quality of water of the fresh river.
According to The Bush Administration’s Environmental Record, (unpublished) and; BEST and WSTB, (2008) this irrigation project and the industries led to low water levels in the lower Klamathi River thus leading to eutrophication of the water in the river and rising of water temperatures caused by construction of dams. Salmon fish depends on very cold temperatures. This in turn caused a missing link in the food chain since Chinook and Coho salmon fish acquires its food in the fresh waters whenever it migrates to this region; and gill rot in the fish and hence most of them that were not able to adapt died.
The deaths of these two species led to a serious decline of fish in the region which in turn has also led to a decline of wealth to the communities living around the region. According to Arkush, (2005) this has caused an increase in poverty in the region and that since salmon runs have decreased, artificial hatcheries have to be built for them. This is uneconomical since artificial hatcheries are costly and very expensive to maintain compared to if the fish was to thrive in natural ecosystem. There was a short term increment of micro-organism and that depend on nutrients from decomposed salmon fish.
With time there has been a slow decline of forest that depended on the salmon fish for growth and development. Coho habitat has been seriously degraded in the tributaries. Lack of cover and impairment of substrate through deposition of sediments are common. Woody debris, which is critical as cover for young fish, has largely been lost as a result of human activity. According to Henry and Mote (unpublished) excessive depletion of flow may separate fish from adequate habitat in the last half of summer.
Endangered and Threatened Fishes in the Klamath River Basin, (2010) states that human activities around the region have caused serious depletion of the Coho salmon since debris from the woods that used to protect young fish has diminished. Thus there has been a serious decline in the commercial catch of the fish which has in turn led to the closure of some industries like the salmon troll industry in 2006 or a decline in the operations in some industries a long the region.
This translates negative impacts to economy of the country. In order to the country from losing this important natural resource, more efforts towards its conservation must be applied. There is need to come up with policies of sustainable development in harvesting salmon fish. Policies aimed at protecting the salmon fish in the wildlife act, need to be made more applicable and should be fully implemented. There is also the need to create awareness on the need to conserve salmon fish as an endangered species.
According to Arkush, (2009), it should include increasing fish resistance to warm temperature and diseases, and reducing the amount of input myxospores into water. 3. Why do different salmon species, and even different salmon stocks within a species, have such different life-history strategies? For example, compare Coho and Pink salmon or compare an Alaskan stock of Chinook with a Californian stock of Chinook. DEFINE the specific comparison you are going to make. What are the advantages and disadvantages of the life-history strategies of each species?
Which strategy do you think will work better in a changing climate? National Park Service US Department of the Interior, (Unpublished) states that salmon fish has an anadromous life history strategy which enables it to bring nutrients from the ocean back into rivers by migrating from the ocean at some stage in life to the fresh mater rivers; and thus the wildlife community as a whole. Thus an anadromous fish are those that live in the fresh water rivers at their initial stages of their lives and migrate to ocean for their later lives.
They require the fresh water rivers for spawning and egg incubation (Fish, unpublished). Both Coho and Pink salmon spend more than a year in the fresh water in the rivers and they both deposit their eggs on gravel beds in the fresh waters. Coho salmon hatch their eggs during winter while Pink salmon hatch their eggs during spring time. The young Pink Salmon then leave for the sea immediately to grow there in the salt water while Coho salmon spend three years in slow moving streams or lakes till it matures into adult Coho salmon before finally moving into the ocean water.
When the Pink salmon enter the fresh water streams, they do not feed there but instead provide food and nutrients to the environment which includes other fish, birds, micro organisms and other animals (National Park Service US Department of the Interior, unpublished). They die immediately after laying eggs and dropping them on the gravel. Their carcasses decompose to produce nutrients to other micro-organisms and plants, while their dead bodies are fed on by birds and other fish.
On the other hand, Coho salmon competes for food with other animals in the fresh water streams since they have to live in this habitat for a longer time. The number of Pink salmon is in abundant since they are able to survive in any water and their ability to feed in the oceans and thus not affected by the environmental variations in the fresh water rivers, and besides, can also survive in any water and take a shorter period to mature (National Park Service US Department of the Interior, unpublished).
Unfortunately, Pink salmon have a very short life p of about two years (Salmonds, unpublished) which most of it is spent in the oceans. Coho salmon have longer life p but the female stays for only eighteen months in the ocean before moving to the fresh water. That is, it spends most of its life in the fresh water. Pink Salmon therefore can best survive in wake of the global climatic change since they can survive in any water and their young ones immediately transfer to the sea to mature after being hatched.
Their ability to survive in any water gives advantage to survive in various conditions that might be caused by the global climatic changes. Moreover; they do not depend on the food in fresh waters and instead, provide food when they die after laying eggs. Thus they can easily adapt to changes in the environment than Coho salmon which is very vulnerable to high summer temperatures (Wild Coho Salmon, 2007).