Thursday, August 13, 2009


In Collapse; Jared Diamond outlined how the destruction of fish stocks is a key indicator of when a society is on the verge of disintegrating.

His book was brought to mind by this:
The Fraser River is experiencing one of the biggest salmon disasters in recent history with more than nine million sockeye vanishing.

Aboriginal fish racks are empty, commercial boats worth millions of dollars are tied to the docks and sport anglers are being told to release any sockeye they catch while fishing for still healthy runs of Chinook.

Between 10.6 million and 13 million sockeye were expected to return to the Fraser this summer. But the official count is now just 1.7 million, according to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

Where the nine to 11 million missing fish went remains a mystery.

“It's beyond a crisis with these latest numbers,” said Ernie Crey, fisheries adviser to the Sto:lo tribes on the Fraser. “What it means is that a lot of impoverished natives are going to be without salmon. … We have families with little or no income that were depending on these fish. … It's a catastrophe,” he said.

Why any sport fishery is allowed when people (and marine life) are starving is a mystery to me but what do I know?
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The Mound of Sound said...

California and Oregon have closed their salmon fisheries for the second year running. Washington and BC would probably do the same if only Alaska would restrain itself - and it won't.

Now we've got Humboldt squid, denizens of the Sea of Cortez in Baja, Mexico, washing up in the hundreds on Tofino beaches. No one knows how many are out at sea or just what local fish stocks they're living on.

Anchovies are moving north into traditional herring territory and we've had a sharp increase in sightings of the once rare giant sunfish in our waters.

This is species migration and that's never good news for existing species. That, combined with the effects of climate change on our delicate spawning grounds, could spell big problems for BC salmon stocks.

The Mound of Sound said...

One other point. It's not the sport fishing that's the problem but the commercial fishery. The commercial boats generate about a dollar a pound for the fish they bring in and they dump a lot of dead fish brought aboard as by-catch. Sport fishery generates around 20-bucks a pound for the fish landed - tourism, hotels, guides, you name it.

Constant Vigilance said...

I suppose I exhibited my prejudice with the sportfishing comment. I haven't fished (outside of a bit of cod in Nfld) since the early 80's. I got turned off while working in the Arctic and some guys from an office in the U.S. came up to our camp and did some fishing. Catching fish up there isn't that tough. These guys filled up a couple of green garbage bags and then left them in our cook tent. Leaving us to take care of the incipient bear problems.

Haven't picked up a rod since except for that one time.