Commercial Fish Stock In Trouble North Pacific Sockeye Salmon

2392 words - 10 pages

All examples are based in British Columbia Salmon industries -Commercial Fish StockinTroubleNorth Pacific Sockeye SalmonIntroductionThe Fraser river watershed produces more Pacific salmon than any other in the world and is one ofthe most productive natural watersheds in the world. In the early 1800s, salmon were abundant along thelength of the Fraser and its tributaries. Aboriginal communities used as much salmon as they wantedwithout jeopardizing the stocks. Beginning in 1930, cured salmon and other fish were exported, and thesalmon industry soon eclipsed the value of the fur trade. The industry shifted from the export of salted fishto large-scale canning of Pacific salmon after the gold rush of 1860s. At the turn of the century, theabundance of salmon far exceeded the industry's capacity. With what seemed to be an inexhaustible supplyof sockeye salmon, the industry give little thought to environmental or conservation concerns. However, bythe next decade it became apparent that the supply of sockeye was limited. The number of canneriessteadily climbed and the ever-increasing efficiency within the commercial fleet had made conservation ofthe sockeye stock an issue that could not be ignored.The recent 1994 "disappearance" of 1.5 million Fraser River sockeye salmon raised new concernsabout the long term viability of the stock. American and Canadian commercial fishers accused each other ofbeing responsible for the missing salmon. Government agencies on both side as well as independentfisheries management agencies such as Pacific Salmon Commission (PSC) scrambled to find answers.Some blamed the "disappearance" on adverse changes in water temperature caused by global warming,while others suggested an inaccurate count was conducted and the missing 1.5 million salmon were a merediscrepancy. No one knows for sure what caused the disappearance. While no single factor may beresponsible for the disappearance, a combination of factors should be considered. This report is notintended to investigate the fate of the missing salmon, but rather to point out the various factors that maycontribute to this dilemma and to suggest ways to prevent this from happening again.Background - Fraser River sockeye salmonFraser River sockeye salmon are known to have a four-year cycle, and the 1994 sockeye run thushad its start in the fall of 1990. Returning female sockeye throughout the Fraser dug their nests anddeposited their eggs in clusters, called redds, in the gravel of the steams where they themselves had beenspawned. After immediate fertilization of the eggs by male sockeye, the female spawners, close to death,covered the eggs and guarded them for as long as possible.In the spring of 1991, millions of baby sockeye, called alevins, emerged form the gravel. Afterspending a year or so as fry in nearby lakes, they swam down the Fraser River to its estuary, and thenmigrated thousands of kilometers into the North Pacific. Fighting high odds from a combination of...

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