Tuesday, August 18, 2009

I heart Salmon

Wild salmon is a fish that represents my province; I feel patriotic in British Columbia, Canada about a fish, ha. A bald eagle fighting a grizzly bear for a juicy, big salmon, viola, the essence of the west coast. I also feel strongly that it is a mighty tasty treat. If in doubt, proceed to 'Go Fish', a take out stand near Granville Island, and have the salmon wrap. Guaranteed, you will love the pink little buggers too. Until recently, I've enjoyed salmon when ever I pleased, avoiding the farmed stuff, cause it tastes like cat food. In the last year, I've been made aware of the Northwest salmon crisis which stretches from BC to California. Stocks of wild salmon in BC are down 9 million from what they once were. 9 MILLION fish are gone, holy shit, that's a lot of fish. So, because I love salmon, I'm going to do two things; get some information out there about the issue and, sigh, eat less salmon. No more big steaks on the BBQ with lemon, dill and butter for me. Sad times. I know we all usually like to motor on and hope that eventually things will go back to normal if we just whistle loud enough, but realistically, that just doesn't work. Sorry. Though we aren't the main problem in reduced fish numbers if we don't minimize our consumption of them, they will go the way of the east coast cod and be gone forever.

From the New York Times: Dave Bitts, a fisherman based in Eureka in Northern California, sees the variables as simple. “To survive, there are two things a salmon needs,” he said. “To eat. And not to be eaten.”

So what's happening to them?
It's not overfishing this time, there are fishing closures all the way to California. No one seems to know definitively, but scientists are pointing to several factors...

1. Starvation - global climate change - the ocean is a lot warmer so the currents that usually lift salmon food like plankton and krill are off timed. Or some sources say that the temperatures have killed off a lot of plankton... result... less food for our salmon buddies.

2. Can't make it to the sea
- We screw with our rivers too much, dams, agriculture diversions of water, pollution, all have a huge impact on salmon.

3. Disease -
Farmed salmon in open net systems that allow sea lice to spread to wild salmon populations. The Norwegians and our own governments are to blame. Solution - just don't eat farmed salmon.

Our salmon are a barometer of the health of North America. That seems like a sweeping, patchouli infused statement, but let me explain. Take the Columbia River, together with its two main tributaries, the Snake and the Yakima rivers, it drains into 260,000 square miles in western Canada and the United States(data from source below). This area is equivalent in size to western Europe. All of these lovely waters pass through many logging and agricultural zones on its way out to the Pacific Ocean. Our salmon spawn at the start of these rivers and then travel all the way through our lands to the massive Pacific Ocean. Run off caused by logging filters into our rivers and destroys spawning beds, dams block the salmon run, pesticides from farming drain into the waters and are absorbed by the river life. Everything we do to our water across cultures and borders affects these salmon, our cultural symbol of bounty and life. That's right, big words for big issues. The west coast salmon is a major link in our food chain, stunning creatures like bears, whales and eagles depend on them to live. The equation is bears - salmon = starving bears = badness. Humans are lucky, we are the worlds most amazing omnivors, we can survive without salmon. However, we may be a decisive factor in our own demise through breaking down essential links in our overall food chain.

The simple thing you can do is eat less or no salmon. The more complex thing you can do is research the issue yourself and then eat responsibly.

Amazing article on the salmon crisis...


More excellent sources...

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