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Global Warming effect salmon and steelhead runs


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Salmon and steelhead counts on Lake Washington waters have crashed tremendously now. Counts at the Ballard Locks and Cedar river are showing huge shortages. With a $31 million hatchery the returns have colapsed.

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12 minutes ago, dry net said:

Since you're trying to start a fight, what do you propose for a course of action that will bring the runs back in our lifetime?

uhuhuhuh...i know,i know,i know...... the green new deal!!!!!

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rivers used to burn,nyc was in a mustard haze,acids rain was destroying the adirondacks,lead in children blood stream,holes in the ozone ,eagles and turkeys being decimated,,,,and all it took was to control human behavior.was it worth the price??

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We tend to forget that the environment is an inter-related and interconnected web.

Unfortunately humans tend to ignore things that don't fit in with their own plans, and are reactive rather than proactive so we are always a day late and a dollar short. Greed and governmental incompetence/corruption aren't going away anytime soon either.

Edited by Sk8man
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We should appreciate the fine conditions we have here in New York  and get those out of state travels plans out of your. head. 

 

Stay home now,STUPID! Bad things are out there.

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Lake Washington sockeye hit record low, another signature Seattle fish at brink of extinction

Jan. 1, 2021 at 6:00 am Updated Jan. 1, 2021 at 4:57 pm
 
A returning sockeye salmon makes its way up the Cedar River in 2006.  (Steve Ringman / The Seattle Times)
 
 
 
1 of 2 | A returning sockeye salmon makes its way up the Cedar River in 2006. (Steve Ringman / The Seattle Times)
By
Seattle Times environment reporter

They are as Seattle as the Space Needle. But Lake Washington sockeye, once the largest run of sockeye in the Lower 48, are failing.

The smallest run on record returned to the Cedar River in 2020, a bottoming out after years of declines. There hasn’t been a fishery on Lake Washington sockeye since 2006 — and now extinction looms.

What’s worse is scientists are not even sure how to fix it, as a vortex of climate change, urbanization and predators endangers a beloved species.

Some 22,950 sockeye were counted at Ballard’s Hiram M. Chittenden Locks in 2020, but only about 3,000 made it to the mouth of the Cedar. An additional 40 to 50% of those fish typically die on the spawning grounds before they can reproduce.A Muckleshoot tribal fisherman out for sockeye in Lake Union in 2006, the last time Seattle’s signature sockeye run was abundant enough for a fishery.     (Eric Warner, Muckleshoot Indian Tribe)

Not even a $31 million hatchery project by Seattle Public Utilities — built in 2011 to replace a failing interim hatchery — has delivered the rescue expected.

Cedar-River-Sockeye-returns-WEBc-1020x16

It’s not only Seattle’s storied summer sockeye run that is at risk. Lake Sammamish kokanee are on life support, circling in a tank in a captive brood on Orcas Island. Local steelhead are goners. The watershed’s chinook run is at 10% of historical levels. The sockeye are the standout example of a more worrisome decline in what once were abundant salmon runs in Seattle and beyond.

“The salmon can’t speak, and they need someone to speak for them, and protect them,” said Jason Elkins, chairman of the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe.

“It’s not just the sockeye, all of the salmon are significant to us, we don’t want them only for ourselves, we want them for everyone to enjoy. We are salmon people. It is our way of life.”

Donny Stevenson, vice chairman of the council, has worked for his tribe for 25 years. He is among the last of the generations at Muckleshoot that went from growing up in a home without running water to being able to buy a new house.

But the tribe is not willing to substitute its new prosperity for its old wealth: the abundance of the salmon that feeds the rivers, the soils, the animals, the land and the spirit of the tribe.

The tribe knows coexistence is possible: Its work rebuilding chum runs at its Keta Creek Hatchery has powered a fishery for the tribe that also benefits recreational fishermen who throng the Green River every fall to catch a tasty chum for the smoker.

Chum returning to the Green River, which flows into the Duwamish, also are crucial autumn fare for southern resident orcas that appear in the urban waters of Seattle every fall, hunting chum and other salmon. But the orcas that frequent our waters also are facing extinction, in part because they can’t get enough salmon to eat.

“In a generation we have gone from times of plenty, to these fish being on the brink of extinction,” Stevenson said. “Our people have been here for thousands of years, hundreds of generations. We have found a way to exist in this environment. This is about balance.”

Paul Faulds, water planning and program management interim director at Seattle Public Utilities, has staked his career on Lake Washington sockeye, investing 20 years in the sockeye program at SPU.

The utility is in the middle of the Lake Washington sockeye rescue because of Seattle’s Landsburg Diversion Dam built in 1901 on the Cedar, to which the sockeye return. The Cedar provides drinking water to two-thirds of SPU’s 1.4 million customers in the greater Seattle area.

 

It is fresh mountain water, never filtered except by the forests preserved on the flanks of the Cascades, in a 90,638-acre watershed reserved and protected for public use as the city’s water supply by the founders of Seattle, more than a century ago.  

Only a few cities in the country are as fortunate as Seattle to have such a pure and delicious water supply.

A portion of the returning sockeye run is collected from the Cedar and taken to a hatchery each year to artificially spawn a new generation — but the fish are not allowed above the dam.

Incredible as it seems now, the utility would never allow sockeye above its dam because managers were worried the fish would spawn in such high numbers, they could pollute the drinking water supply.

“I am continually blown away, thinking that was really a concern,” Faulds said.

Today the worry is that the fish can’t beat the combination of climate change that is warming the water in the lake and Lake Washington Ship Canal to lethal temperatures; urbanization of the lake; and surging predator populations gobbling juvenile salmon. The threats intertwine.

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There was a situation like this a bit higher up north in Canada. It turned out that huge fish farms (Salmon) were responsible for spreading disease in the water. The density of the farmed salmon caused this problem. The farmed fish was fed antibiotics  but the wild fish swimming through the area was decimated. The local government kept this under cover until some investigative reporters broke the story open while being threatened by the fish farm interest group. It may not be the same problem, but I would not be amazed if there is a similar story hidden behind this event.

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Conservation

Death by a thousand cuts

Photographs by Tavish Campbell
 
Interview by Beth Finney
 

“It’s an impact that we can actually do something about.”

Activist and photographer Tavish Campbell has been fighting for the protection of wild salmon for nearly his whole life. Two years after British Columbia’s fish farming industry was caught dumping piscine orthoreovirus-infected blood into Canada’s largest wild salmon migration route, he returned to those waters. He wanted to see if, in light of recent scientific confirmation of the devastating impact of this virus on salmon, anything had changed for the better.

Beth Finney (BF): These discoveries were made two years ago. Why is this still going on?

Tavish Campbell (TC): These farms are still operating all along the coast, growing fish that are infected with this virus. It’s not just about the processing plant, because even if the plant got some magical filter and cleaned up their act, ultimately these infected fish are still being grown in a wild salmon habitat. It’s not the processing plant that’s the problem. The problem is that we’re growing these fish in open pens in wild salmon habitat that are infected with this virus.

BF: So people are eating infected fish?

TC: Yes exactly. There’s not really been any research that I’m aware of, examining the potential impacts of this virus on humans. Currently we’re mainly concerned about its impact on other salmon. But yes people are definitely eating it. Most importantly, since the last Bloodwater story came out, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) published a paper that was very important because it showed that this virus does harm both Atlantic and Pacific salmon.

BF: Are you surprised that this behaviour is still continuing without any reprimand?

TC: In a sense I’m not surprised because DFO finds itself in a real bind – there’s a conflict of interest because on one hand they’re mandated to be protecting wild salmon, but they’re also mandated to promote aquaculture. It’s a conflict of interest that causes issues for them when they are faced with having to actually regulate this industry. It’s been interesting watching their response to this most recent paper. It’s been basically to try and cover it up and ignore it. This is not the first time they’ve been taken to court about allowing the release of infected fish farm fish into the ocean and they just refuse to acknowledge, and they refuse to do anything about it.

BF: Why do you think certain parties are so comfortable trying to cover this up and ignoring the urgency of the situation?

TC: It’s certainly a question we ask ourselves a lot here. I think part of it is this problem that you have one ministry that’s tasked with both regulating and promoting an industry. So, in a sense they want to see the industry thrive because it’s their job. It’s creating jobs for them – the aquaculture management division is a big part of DFO. It should be split up into two ministries. You should have one ministry that’s just solely responsible for ensuring the health of our oceans, our salmon and our coastlines. And that shouldn’t be mixed up with having to promote an industry that has obvious impacts on that.

The problem is that we’re growing these fish in open pens in wild salmon habitat that are infected with this virus.

Bloodwater Tavish Campbell wild salmon British Columbia
Bloodwater Tavish Campbell wild salmon British Columbia
 

BF: In the past two years have you been continually aware of this or was it a recent discovery?

TC: I hadn’t been able to dive these spots for a long time since the first Bloodwater story. Two years seemed like a good amount of time to come back and check in to see what had changed – to see if anything had changed. I was pretty devastated to find that nothing had changed, especially since we have this updated knowledge about the impacts of the virus. Last time, we knew that this virus caused HSMI – heart and skeletal muscle inflammation – but we didn’t have any scientific papers showing that it harmed Pacific salmon. We knew it harmed the Atlantic salmon. But in 2018, a very important paper was published showing that it caused the red blood cells of farmed Chinook salmon to rupture, leading to jaundice and organ failure. By extension, we can safely assume that it’s not a good thing for wild salmon either.

The problem is that it’s almost impossible to prove that this virus is killing wild salmon because in the wild, the minute a wild salmon is infected with anything and it starts to swim a little bit slower than any of its schoolmates it gets immediately removed by a predator. It’s the perfect crime because the evidence is removed.

BF: Is the industry relying on that challenge?

TC: Yes, which is insane because we’ve shown that it ruptures the red blood cells of Chinook salmon that are being grown inside the pen, so why would it not do the that to the very same species outside of the pen?

BF: How did it feel when you dove down and saw that the bloodwater was still billowing out?

TC: It brought up a few things. It was devastating to see that it was still happening. Heartbreaking, given the fact that we’re currently seeing are some of our largest populations of salmon on the B.C. coast collapse to near extinction. So yes, pretty scary to know that infected blood is still flowing, despite the fact that our salmon are disappearing before our eyes.

BF: Why was it ever an option to dispose of this effluent into the wild?

TC: I think originally it was because these processing plants would originally have been processing wild salmon. It’s one thing when you harvest a wild salmon from the ocean, process it and release the blood back into the ocean. In theory you’re not really going to be spreading anything around that isn’t already in the ocean. That’s much different than nowadays, because our wild salmon stocks have collapsed so much. These processing plants are still trying to survive and make money so they’re now processing farmed salmon. That’s where a big difference is, where you’re taking Atlantic salmon out of fish farms and fish farms are a perfect place for these viruses to gain hold. Then you’re taking those fish and processing them and dumping that blood into the water. It can be heavily infected with this virus. In the wild, in a natural setting, if a salmon becomes infected with the virus and that affects its ability to be healthy and swim fast it’s immediately removed by a predator. That’s nature’s way of dealing with these things in the wild – any slow or sick animals get removed. Obviously, that isn’t allowed to happen in a fish farm. The virus is able to do very well in these Atlantic salmon that they’re processing. They can they can be carrying incredibly high levels of this virus, way higher than you’d ever find in a wild salmon not in a pen.

I was pretty devastated to find that nothing had changed, especially since we have this updated knowledge.

Bloodwater Tavish Campbell wild salmon British Columbia fish farm
Bloodwater Tavish Campbell wild salmon British Columbia
Bloodwater Tavish Campbell wild salmon British Columbia Canada
Bloodwater Tavish Campbell wild salmon British Columbia collapse
 

BF: Do you think it could be related to the mass die-off we’ve seen recently in Clayoquot Sound?

TC: It’s hard to say. It’s not necessarily the virus that kills the salmon but it’s when you combine it with another stressor. So, say you have a warm water incident or a low oxygen incident or the fish is battling a plankton bloom. Often, it’s a combination of those two things. When fish are dying in large numbers in the fish farms yes it can be precipitated by an algae bloom or a low oxygen event but often those underlying issues – the fish are already struggling, already carrying this virus. The industry in Clayoquot Sound have said that it’s related to this plankton bloom, which it may be, but there could also be underlying health issues with the fish that’s leading them to die like that.

BF: In the current climate, how likely is it looking to fish farms will be removed from B.C. by 2025?

TC: It’s a good question. There was a very important – and I’d say hopeful – announcement made by the Liberal Party of Canada right before the election. They actually wrote in their platform that they would work to develop a responsible transition plan and aim to get open-net and fish farms out of the water by 2025. They came out and said that publicly and I think they gained a lot of votes from that. Now that they’re in power there’s rumours that they’re potentially not actually planning on following through with that promise, which obviously is pretty devastating. That’s our goal now is to keep the pressure up and hold them accountable. Because it really is to the point where our wild salmon are not coming back and we can’t keep messing around with this.

In 2019 the Fraser River sockeye, which is one of the most commercially important runs on the coast, one of the largest in B.C., suffered a 90% collapse. The DFO already expected there to be a low return but then only 10% of that already low forecasted return actually came back to the river. They haven’t moved elsewhere, because they only live so long, and they have to come back to the river to spawn. They’ve disappeared. Obviously, there’s a whole number of factors impacting them. It’s not just fish farms. There are changing ocean conditions due to climate change and there’s other habitat impacts that they experience. It’s death by a thousand cuts. But certainly, I think one of the most glaringly obvious impacts are these impacts from the viruses that are being released by the fish farming industry. It’s an impact that we can actually do something about. In the short term it’s hard to address changing ocean conditions in the North Pacific whereas we can actually stop putting this virus into our coastal waters. It’s one of a number impacts but it’s one that we can actually do something about.

In 2019 the Fraser River sockeye, which is one of the most commercially important runs on the coast, one of the largest in B.C., suffer a 90% collapse.

Bloodwater Tavish Campbell wild salmon British Columbia
Bloodwater Tavish Campbell wild salmon British Columbia open pens
 

BF: What action will you be taking in the coming months?

TC: Well in the coming months we’ll be working to make the Liberal Party keep their promise. And we need to need to develop a reasonable transition plan that also looks after the workers on these farms and helps them transition to growing fish on land. But that really is the only solution here. Even if the plant somehow starts filtering their effluent so there’s no virus being released ultimately that won’t really make a difference because all these farmed fish are still being grown in wild salmon habitat and 80% of all the fish grown on this coast by the fish farm industry are infected with this virus. That really is the only solution is to move onto land.

BF: Is the backlash against closed containment farms on land purely financial?

TC: Yes it’s purely financial. It’s cheaper for them to grow their farmed fish in the ocean because they’re able to externalise their costs onto the environment. When you have an open net-pen farm in the ocean you’re given the free water, the oxygen, the circulation and all your waste is removed automatically for you. It just disperses into the environment. You don’t have to deal with the waste. It’s the cheapest way of growing fish. It’s purely for economical reasons that they don’t want to move onto land. Their argument for many years has been that it’s not possible to do it on land economically. But that’s being proven otherwise because there’s a number of large closed containment facilities being built on the East Coast of the United States and that really is the future. We’re going to be growing fish in closed containment systems on land. The industry in British Columbia is trying to put that off for as long as they can because their profit margins are better if they can continue growing fish in the ocean. Their bottom line is making money for their shareholders. You know these aren’t even corporate companies that are that are based in Canada. Around  98% of the industry now operating in British Columbia is foreign owned. As terrible as it sounds, I don’t think they really care about the health of wild salmon on this coast – clearly they don’t, or else they wouldn’t keep operating in this way.

BF: What would be your advice to people around the world who want to help but aren’t on the front line.

TC: Well there’s a few things. Choosing to not eat farmed salmon and to not support this industry is important. Always ask whether the salmon you’re eating is farmed or wild. Make use of the amazing resources that are the Internet and social media to speak up, to have your say on this issue and connect with others through these campaigns.

BF:  How long have you been a part of this fight for salmon?

TC: Begrudgingly, my whole life. It’s mainly due to the fact that I grew up on a small island in British Columbia where we were literally surrounded by open net-pen salmon farms and we had no option but to witness the impacts that these farms were having on our wild salmon. It really wasn’t something that I set out to do. It was just something that I felt I couldn’t ignore. I couldn’t not speak out about it. It’s been a number of years but I couldn’t not tell these stories.

To find out more about the movement to protect the fragile wild salmon stocks of Canada, head to the Wild First website.

To read the full paper outlining the impact of Piscine orthoreovirus on both Atlantic and Pacific salmon in British Columbia, click here.

To read more of Tavish’s work, read his piece ‘The fish that feed the forest’, which was featured in Issue 01 of Oceanographic Magazine.

__________

Unplug. Reconnect. 

#WhereWillYouReadYours?

80% of all the fish grown on this coast by the fish farm industry are infected with this virus.

 
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Lots of interesting information there. I recall that Les posted a link referring to the recent Science article on how leftovers from tires wearing down were causing big problems in West Coast Coho. Here's the abstract.  I don't know how widely this applies to other salmonids, but it's worth considering. 

 

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Edited by Gator
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