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.
posted 5 years, 3 months ago
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