Conservationists Horrified As Imperiled Atlantic Salmon Decline Worsens
In spite of many decades of conservation and protection efforts that were expected to save them Atlantic Salmon numbers are sinking.
Salmon are clearly starving at sea, only restoration of their vital ocean pastures can save them.
BANGOR, Maine (AP) — So few of North America’s Atlantic salmon are making it back to rivers to spawn, their demise portends extinction in the near future for the imperiled fish, an international conservation group says.
Atlantic salmon were once abundant in the rivers of New England, Atlantic Canada, and Northern Europe but they are now endangered or have disappeared in parts all of these areas. The salmon are hatched in rivers, and promptly swim to their North Atlantic ocean pastures where, like all livestock, they must successfully graze on the grass/phytoplankton of those pastures if they are to survive, thrive, and return to their natal river to spawn.
UPDATE: 13 July 2017 Canadian authorities have just announced that Atlantic Salmon are being counted numbering only 1/5th their recent 5 year average, already dismally low.
“On the Exploits River as of the ninth of July, we only had 2,500 fish pass through the Bishop’s Falls fishway. The corresponding five year average for that facility is 12,700.”
“Similarly low numbers have been reported in Salmon Brook, near Gander, Campbellton on the road to Lewisporte, and Middle Brook”, fisheries managers stated.
Atlantic Salmon stocks already down to just a few percent of historic numbers take another hit.
The Atlantic Salmon Federation released a report this month that says total estimated returns of the young fish known as grilse to North America in 2016 was a little more than a half million salmon. That is a 27 percent decrease from the previous year.
The group says young salmon who come back to their home rivers years before they reach adulthood when the come home to spawn often revisit their home streams after having spent only one winter at sea. Last year small numbers of returning grilse proved they had suffered a near apocalyptic starvation at sea.
The salmon federation warns that signs show 2017 is looking like another poor year, said spokesman Neville Crabbe.
“What do we do? We’ve asked people to choose to kill fewer salmon,” Crabbe said. “The long term solution is government to government agreements.”
But Crabbe’s and the Salmon Federation comments are nothing short of a senseless cry to find and punish ‘the usual suspects’ while avoiding the politically impolitic proper observation that decades of calling for more study, conservation, protection, and talk, talk, talk has utterly failed the Atlantic Salmon. Similarly Atlantic Cod which received aggressive fishing prohibitions and limits in the early 1990’s have continued to decline as they share the same dying ocean pasture with the Atlantic Salmon.
The Atlantic salmon pundits acknowledge that the fish face a number of challenges in the wild, ranging from the presence of river dams to continued fishing pressure throughout the North Atlantic. But most of all the scientific truth that remains forbidden from the professional and conservationist agenda is that the Atlantic Salmon are simply starving at sea.
Walt Whitman, the English writer, once said in describing the vital importance of healthy pastures,
“All beef is grass.”
That truth has never been questioned nor has it ever been more evident with regard to the livestock of the oceans.
I say, “All fish is plankton.”
While Crabbe and the Atlantic Salmon Foundation did acknowledge a role for the changing environment of the North Atlantic that has also impacted populations. They demurred from pointing the scientific finger of blame at the real and simple cause which is the clearly demonstrated collapse of the North Atlantic Ocean Pastures which in turns means the Atlantic salmon simple are starving at sea.
No significant numbers are caught at sea so it’s NOT overfishing that is the cause of their plight. The are simply lost at sea, but is it a unsolvable mystery, or do we know full well how to restore them to historic abundance?
Here’s a trailer for a video title Atlantic Salmon – LOST AT SEA, aka starving at sea.
Read more at the film site http://atlanticsalmonlostatsea.net
The plight of the Atlantic salmon as well as all of Atlantic fish is not something we can do nothing about. We can and we must restore Atlantic Salmon ocean pastures and bring back the fish. This can be accomplished in just a few years at a trivial cost.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has released a militarized policing and recovery plan for Gulf of Maine salmon that calls for restored habitats, removal of dams and use of hatchery programs to try to rebuild the population. The Gulf of Maine’s Atlantic salmon was listed an endangered in 2000 and has fallen sharply in population since the 19th century.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center includes an Atlantic Salmon Ecosystems Research Team that tracks and studies the population. Tim Sheehan, a research fishery biologist with the team, said it’s important to keep an eye on long-term trends in salmon population and not put too much stock in one year.
But Atlantic salmon are “still in pretty rough shape,” said Dan Kircheis, a fisheries biologist with the National Marine Fisheries Service.
We can, and therefore we must, restore the Atlantic Salmon ocean pastures.
Many people have asked if the Atlantic Salmon might benefit from restoration of their ocean pastures. Absolutely yes and recovery will likely be dramatic within 2-4 years.
Like Pacific Salmon, Atlantic’s put on 90+% of their body weight in the ocean. When their ocean pasture is in a vibrant state of abundance all of sea life there enjoys high survival rates and grows large and healthy.
Tragically the North Atlantic ocean pastures are suffering dramatic productivity declines as one of the many deleterious effects of high and rising CO2 in the world’s atmosphere. We can replenish and restore them to bring back the fish.
Here’s how it simply works.
Today’s high CO2 in the air is helping plants grow on land. Good plant growth on land is called “good ground cover.” That ground cover prevents dust from blowing in the wind and that missing dust was the primary source of mineral micro-nutrients for ocean pastures. Just as we know rain arriving in the wind nourishes and makes a pasture on land grow grass, dust from the wind nourishes and makes the plants of the ocean pasture grow. Without ocean pastures plant life, phyto-plankton, they cannot sustain life, including the Atlantic Salmon.
Atlantic ocean plant life, the phyto-plankton, has been observed to be in tremendous decline. International science teams have measured more than 26% lost in the last 30 years. How bad is 26%? Remember when we destroy just 1 in 10 of any form of life we say that we have decimated that life! It’s bad. Very bad. And the starvation and disappearance of both Atlantic Salmon and Atlantic Cod stand as testimony to the collapse of the Atlantic Ocean Pastures.
Here’s a link to a scientific paper about the starvation at sea being reported in Atlantic Salmon.
Just as our work to restore ocean salmon pastures of the NE Pacific has been successful there is every reason to believe the same simple, immediate, and successful ocean pasture restorations can take place in the North Atlantic to the benefit of Atlantic Salmon. Our restored NE Pacific ocean salmon pasture of 2012 brought back stupendous returns of salmon to Alaska last fall (2013).
Where 50 million Pink salmon were expected, instead having been nurtured and sustained on our replenished and restored ocean pasture 219 million Pink Salmon returned to SE Alaska. Just now salmon boffins are forecasting that instead of a repeat of last years return of barely 2 million Sockeye Salmon to the Fraser River of British Columbia 72 million of the bright red Sockeye are expected. It will be the largest number in all of history, dwarfing the famed Bristol Bay Sockeye runs in far North Alaska.
It just works with North Pacific salmon, surely it will just work with North Atlantic salmon! And more Atlantic Salmon and Atlantic Cod have always shared the same ocean pastures as we replenish and restore those ocean pastures all fish indeed all of ocean life will benefit.
Join me to ‘bring back the fish.”
Note: That great salmon face at the top of this post comes from a fabulous artist. https://www.derekdeyoung.com/gallery/species/atlantic-salmon-and-sea-trout