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Archive for August 15th, 2009

Q. How Can You Tell When Ecosystem Nears Collapse?

Posted by feww on August 15, 2009

A. When 95 percent of the salmon don’t return to spawn!

About 95 percent of sockeye salmon did not return to Fraser River on Canada’s Pacific Coast to spawn this summer

sockeye-salmon
Sockeye salmon. Photo sourced from here!

Nearly 11 million bright-red sockeye salmon that were expected to return to spawn on the Fraser River,  once known as the world’s most fertile spawning ground for sockeye, which empties into the Pacific ocean near Vancouver, British Columbia, have disappeared this summer. According to the Canadian government estimates fewer than 1 million returned, Reuters reported.

“The Canadian government has closed the river to commercial and recreational sockeye fishing for the third straight year, hitting the livelihood of nearby Indian reserves.”

“It’s quite the shocking drop,” said Stan Proboszcz, fisheries biologist at the Watershed Watch Salmon Society. “No one’s exactly sure what happened to these fish.”

Salmons hatch in freshwater rivers. They then migrate out to the ocean where they stay throughout their pre-reproductive age, and return as adult fish to spawn in natal rivers.

fraser river
Watershed of the Fraser River. The Fraser River is the longest river in British Columbia, Canada. Click on the map to enlarge.

The Canadian authorities have suggested a number of reasons for the sockeye’s disappearance:

  1. “Climate change may have reduced food supply for salmon in the ocean.” [i.e., they starved to death!]
  2. “The commercial fish farms that the young Fraser River salmon pass en route to the ocean may have infected them with sea lice, a marine parasite.” [Possibly, the most sensible of the three suggestions.]
  3. “The rising temperature of the river may have weakened the fish.” [By the time they enter the ocean, they lose their strength and the will to live and die off.]

“The Canadian government doesn’t know what’s killing the fish, but believes the sockeye are dying off in the ocean, not in fresh water, based on healthy out-migrations, said Jeff Grout, regional resource manager of salmon for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.” Reuters reported.

This one made it, just. But not enough  happy returns!


A sockeye salmon scurries through shallow water in the Adams River while preparing to spawn near Chase, British Columbia northeast of Vancouver October 11, 2006. REUTERS/Andy Clark. Image may be subject to copyright.

Grout also revealed that Skeena River in northern British Columbia has experienced “lower-than-expected return” this summer, but could not elaborate  on the overall fate of the Pacific salmon fishery.

The reduced salmon return has multiple knock-on effect on the ecosystems around the Fraser River, Proboszcz said. Adult salmon die after spawning, creating a food source for bears and eagles and providing nutrients for plants.

“Food companies that rely on the Fraser for some of their salmon supply will have to look to other areas of British Columbia or Alaska, Grout said.”

What that means is that there would be even more pressure on other fisheries, which are already strained to the point of depletion and collapse.

The fact is our oceans are dying; they are pumped with unbelievable amounts of carbon dioxide, sulfuric acid [just two of the hundreds of gasses and chemicals humans release to the environment,] farm runoff, toxic chemicals, raw sewage, industrial waste, household garbage, the worst imaginable cocktail of poison from tourist and shipping boats, crude oil spills, nuclear waste/spills, oil and gas drilling waste …

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Posted in collapsing fisheries, dying oceans, ecosystem collapse, Fish Eggs Holocaust, fishery collapse, knock-on effect, sockeye salmon | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »