The press coverage of the results of the early Dec/09 think tank are ranging in their identifying potential issue leading to the completely blown DFO forecast for Fraser River sockeye this year (i.e. over 10 million forecast; just over 1 million returning)
The CBC covered the results of the gathering: “Sockeye decline linked to climate change: Change in ocean conditions in 2007 likely behind mass death of stocks.”
“Using their combined expertise and as much official data they could gather, the scientists concluded the missing sockeye likely vanished when they were still young and migrating toward the sea.
They suggested that in either late spring or early summer of 2007, ocean conditions probably hurt the fish’s chances of survival.
“If you’re looking at warmer temperatures and a lack of food, that could well be a cause of mortality for large numbers of fish,” [Mark] Angelo said.
However, the group didn’t rule out other factors, including pollution and lice from fish farms.”
Pollution is not raised in any of the other articles I’ve seen yet; however, living immediately downstream of a couple of pulp mills in the Upper Fraser and having traveled through much of the rest of the Fraser watershed – maybe there is a larger connection here?
Or, maybe the hundred or so small streams that have been lost around the mouth of the Fraser due to urbanization might also have a significant impact? As far as I understand, salmon fry need to spend some time undergoing significant physiological changes when moving from fresh to salt water and vice-versa.
My point here is not to question or belittle the scientists that made up this think thank – I just find it a little disappointing that at this point in time, with the level of decreases that we’ve seen throughout the Pacific salmon range, that more brave, decisive steps are not being taken. And that a clear, decisive message is not being communicated about the issues.
The analogy I drew the other day in a discussion with someone is this: at the beginning of the H1N1 ‘pandemic’ if the federal government had stalled along suggesting ‘we need more research’ before we can say or do anything definitive – what would have been the public reaction? Instead the government spent billions on vaccines, clinics, and public outreach.
Sure enough, there are many individuals (and conspiracy theorists) that are avoiding the vaccines – some for the exact reason that there are still lots of questions.
Yet in my relatively short time of salmon experience – starting near the time when I could walk and now moving on 3 decades – I have seen incredible declines across the coast. A few brave steps have been taken here and there; however, not much in terms of long term, decisive, clear action and communication.