Still More Salmon Coverage

The San Francisco Chronicle reported today that the collapse of the Sacramento River salmon population will likely lead to sharp restrictions on this year’s fishing season and higher prices at the market. Meanwhile, SFist brings news from the Marin Independent Journal that the endangered Coho failed to appear at all in Muir Woods.

From the IJ:

“No coho have come up Redwood Creek so far this year,” said Steve Hampton, of the state Department of Fish and Game, at a meeting Tuesday night in Mill Valley to discuss the effects of the spill on Marin.

“They should be up by now,” he said. “It has been a low year for coho up and down the coast, but Redwood Creek is the only zero.”

The Redwood Creek coho salmon run comes from the Pacific Ocean and through Muir Beach, where the fish congregate waiting for seasonal rains to break a berm at the beach. They can then travel up the creek and spawn. Visitors can usually see the spectacle at Muir Woods, but not this winter.

That’s bad news for an endangered species. The Chinook or King salmon are what we usually eat, and they’ve been running pretty low, as the AP and now the Chron have reported.

From the Chron:

“The low returns are particularly distressing since this stock has consistently been the healthy ‘workhorse’ for salmon fisheries off California and most of Oregon,” the [Pacific Fisheries Management] Council’s executive director, Donald McIsaac, said in a statement Tuesday.

Bad news, friends. Here’s what a fishing industry rep had to say:

“We’ve known that the numbers were going to come in low, but we didn’t know they would be this low,” said Zeke Grader, executive director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations, which represents commercial fishermen.

“This could end up closing us,” Grader said. “Part of what we’re trying to do is put a fish on the table that people can afford.”

Apparently a big part of the decline has to do with polluted and diverted inland rivers and a lack of fresh water for the fish.

“Dams along the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers are holding back water, and the flows are usually less than what the salmon need,” [Bay Institute scientist Tina] Swanson said. The low flows of freshwater to the bay can also raise overall water temperatures beyond what is healthy for juvenile salmon, she said. In the delta, the water pumps suck up salmon and other fish. The pumping system moves the juvenile salmon into large, open areas of the delta, where they are prey for bigger fish.

Bottom line: If you want to eat local salmon this year, be ready to pay for it. But maybe you shouldn’t. Maybe, just maybe, it’s time to give salmon and other seafood populations a rest for a little while. Think about it.

Missing coho in Redwood Creek may be latest fallout of oil spill

Salmon arriving in record low numbers [SF Chronicle]
SFist Photo: Where Have All the Salmon Gone?
Salmon Press Packet [Pacific Fisheries Management Council]
Background: Salmon [Pacific Fisheries Management Council]


Still More Salmon Coverage