Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Good News, Bad News as Wild Salmon Season is underway

It is the tale of two fisheries, one fraught with man made and natural calamities, the other, enjoying an abundance well above the norm.

First the bad news, the west coast salmon fishery, from northern California to British Columbia is shut down again for the second year in a row, last year, 2008, being the first time in 160 years for this to happen.

The damming of rivers to supply residential, commercial, and agricultural water demands, combined with severe draught, has made it near impossible for several populations of salmon to migrate to their spawning grounds and has brought many of them near extinction. Every river systems salmon population is distinct from all others, once the breeding population is gone, that river system will never produce salmon again as salmon always instinctively return to the system they were spawned in.

The U.S. government has taken action by restricting water consumption in the areas affected, and requiring steps to be taken to ease the migration path so that the salmon will be less hindered on their path to the spawning grounds. The California governor has balked at these proposals, but when faced with the demise of the major commercial and recreational industries that salmon and other species represent, I would think he should be strongly behind these measures.

Ok, now on with the good news.

The Copper River salmon run is the first of the season Alaskan salmon harvest. There are two species involved in this run the Chinook, or King salmon; and the Sockeye, or Red salmon. The run started about three weeks ago and the harvest from this area, particularly the Sockeye harvest, is considered a bell-weather of what the remainder of the salmon season will be like for the rest of the state.

After looking at the chart of total weekly catch which compares this season against last and the five year average, all I can say is "Wow", this is going to be a great season for fresh wild salmon from Alaska. The numbers are literally almost off the chart, beating last years catch at this time by over 150 thousand pounds if I am reading the chart correctly, you can see it HERE. The contrast with the California fishery could not be more stark.

So there you have it, the good and bad of the salmon season which will run until mid September. Expect plenty of fresh Alaskan salmon, probably at very good prices, due to Alaska's excellent fishery management. Meanwhile the west coast, particularly California, will suffer from loss of jobs and income from putting "growth" ahead of preserving their natural resources.


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  2. very interesting blog.and great information...

  3. This is my first time to drop by at your blog. Will visit you again. Thanks for sharing

  4. Amer, Redeemed, and James, Thanks for your comments, hope you stop by often.

  5. Since the salmon do not disapear in the OFF season, where do they go? and then, is there not some fish that is caught and sold in the Off season? I have seen fresh wild salmon on ice at a local Keyfood market Yesterday, January 2nd in Pleasantville New York. They insist it is fresh, not previously frozen and honestly it loks and cooks and tastes as fresh as what I get in August or September.
    What do you maker of it?
    Andre Audant Chapaqua, NY