Farmed And Dangerous? Wild Salmon Advocates On Defensive
 Corps Again Nixes Lower Snake Dredging: Barges May Hit Bottom
 Idaho Water Talks Fizzle, But Crapo Doesn't Give Up
 Another Potential Lawsuit Over Idaho Water: Users Intend To Sue Feds
 Feds Cry Foul Over Attempt To Add Upper Snake Issue To BiOp Case
 Economists Add Up Costs, Benefits From More Columbia Irrigation
 Idaho Redd Counts Stay High For Spring Chinook
 Comment: Cyrus Noe On The Salmon Crossroads Conference
 FARMED AND DANGEROUS? WILD SALMON ADVOCATES ON DEFENSIVE
Commercial fishermen may not be the only ones facing a major challenge from the global salmon glut. At a recent conference in Seattle, critics of the farmed salmon industry pointed to potentially harmful impacts on wild fish stocks from net pen-cultured salmon and steelhead, including ESA-listed fish in Puget Sound. The three-day gathering in Seattle was sponsored by the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission.
As aquaculture continues to grow worldwide, some conference participants argued that the wild salmon industry should join fish farmers to foster new markets, but others adopted a more confrontational stance, citing potential dangers to wild stocks in BC, Alaska and Washington state from domesticated escapees that could bring exotic diseases to wild stocks and crowd them out of native streams, while waste from pens could pollute neighboring waters.
But NOAA Fisheries scientist Bill Waknitz said his agency is not too worried about the risks to wild fish from their domesticated brethren, especially in Puget Sound, where chinook and chum salmon are listed for protection under the Endangered Species Act. Only eight net pen sites are currently in use in the Sound.
He pointed to a 2002 NOAA technical memo that looked at the potential impacts of Atlantic salmon and found low risks compared to the "status quo," namely, the annual release of millions of fish raised in confined spaces (Northwest hatcheries) and released purposefully into the wild to provide more harvest opportunities for both the commercial and recreational fishing sectors.
Waknitz said fish disease was already a common occurrence at hatcheries, where about half of the fish released carry BKD [bacterial kidney disease] and other pathogens in lesser amounts.
In 2002, West Coast and Alaska hatcheries released 2.3 billion salmon smolts, said Kevin Amos, NOAA Fisheries' National Aquatic Animal Health Coordinator, while 23 million smolts were brought to Atlantic salmon pens, with only 23 documented escapes of the farmed fish. Amos said that's a much improved situation from years past. About one million Atlantics were estimated to have escaped from 1992 to 2002.
But the evidence hasn't deterred a slew of negative press on the farmed salmon industry. Amos quoted from recent stories in The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, The New York Times, Environment magazine and a pamphlet funded by Ecotrust, that mentioned these potential problems as "real" problems.
NOAA Fisheries' Amos considered risks from such escapes low, but not just because of the small number of escapees.
"We have yet to find an 'exotic' pathogen in the Pacific Northwest," Amos said, noting that all diseases seen in farmed salmon were first observed in wild stocks, despite the scary stories in the media. He mentioned the controversy surrounding the suspected infestation of sea lice in wild pink salmon in BC's Broughton Peninsula from nearby netpen fish, though the scientific verdict in still out, Canadian researchers said at the meeting. As for now, he said there is no evidence to demonstrate that Atlantic salmon are causing disease outbreaks in wild Pacific salmon.
But Amos cautioned that the failure to prove any connection doesn't "dismiss the responsibility of owner/managers to operate within the boundaries of the law or maintain reasonable bio-security programs on their sites."
Farmed salmon spokesman Alex Trent, executive director of Salmon of the Americas, said his industry has not just been mis-represented in the press, "but it's been lied about." He pointed out that New York Times food writer Marian Burros never issued a retraction after reporting falsely that farmed salmon contained less amounts of heart-healthy Omega-3 fatty acids than wild fish.
Of Hogs and Harm
But Rebecca Goldburg, from the Park Avenue-based Environmental Defense Fund which claims 400,000 members, showed pictures of industrial hog facilities in South Carolina during her discussion of industrial fish farming. Choosing Atlantic salmon is a "worst pick" for seafood consumers according to information on her group's website, because fish farms potentially pollute nearby waters and deplete other wild fish stocks used to make fish meal to raise salmon. It takes two to three pounds of wild fish that ends up in the dry fish meal (typically anchovies from Peru) to make one pound of farmed salmon.
Goldburg dodged the farmed salmon/PCB issue saying three small studies suggested a problem but more data is needed. She admitted that she was not aware of other scientific work that has found higher PCB levels in wild salmon (See NW Fishletter 166).
The escapee issue was addressed by Prof. John Volpe of the University of Alberta, who thinks BC fisheries scientists have seriously underestimated the number of farmed fish that have entered wild fish streams.
Though he noted that provincial authorities actually tried to introduce Atlantic salmon into wild streams from 1905 to 1934, Volpe said the stock likely didn't take hold because wild runs were holding their own in those days.
But he sees a different picture today. Depressed steelhead populations in many Vancouver Island streams are only 10 percent to 20 percent of their historic numbers, making it possible for escaped Atlantics to colonize with relative ease, Volpe said. Few farmed fish have been observed making a home in the wild, he admitted, but he emphasized the potential for problems, noting that fishery authorities have consistently downplayed the possibility of any potential problems, initially denying that any escaped farmed fish had found their way to wild streams.
Volpe pointed out that the BC farmed salmon industry had consolidated considerably from 1989, when "mainly dope smokers" ran small netpen businesses, with about 75 different companies involved. Since then, the industry has winnowed down to 11 corporations, as productivity improved to address competition from Norway and Chile.
Chile has won that battle hands down. Volpe cited figures that the South American country raises 196 tons (m) of salmon per full-time worker, while BC only produces 38 tons per FTE. BC's farmed salmon industry produced 73,000 metric tons of farmed salmon in 2002, while Chile produced 454,000 metric tons (up more than 300 percent from 1996).
The latest in canned Chile.
(Courtesy of The Coloso Fishing Group)
After adding up other sources of farmed salmon from Norway, Great Britain, Ireland and Scotland, the huge salmon glut has had a major effect on wild salmon prices. Volpe said prices for wild fish have declined even faster than the US and BC market share -they are down more than 50 percent.
But University of Alaska economist Gunnar Knapp questioned his fellow academic's bottom-line argument. "What's underlying this debate?" Knapp asked, who said it seemed that Volpe's argument was driven more by sociological issues rather than science. Volpe didn't disagree.
Knapp said that Volpe's argument raises all kinds of questions--like what is the basis for prosperity, and other thorny issues about "underdevelopment."
While fishermen on the West Coast have suffered through declining markets and lower prices, Knapp said "a whole region in Chile is being lifted out of poverty."
But Volpe contended that the ecological costs of that prosperity were being borne "by others than the producers."
Meanwhile, the wild salmon industry is still in economic freefall, and fishermen, especially in Alaska, will have to face a major re-structuring, maybe by cutting their fleet in half and reducing hatchery production to battle the challenges brought about by worldwide salmon farming. This year, the ex-vessel value of the entire 200-million-plus Alaska salmon catch was worth only about one-third of the $600 million that BPA spent in 2003 to recover ESA-listed stocks, pay for its fish and wildlife program and get one million salmon back over Bonneville Dam.
But perhaps the real sleeper issue that left many wondering about the future was a presentation by NOAA policymaker Tim Keeney, a deputy assistant secretary in the Department of Commerce, who explained his agency's new initiative to support ocean-based aquaculture within the 200-mile limit of the US coast,
The new policy, which still needs enabling legislation, was questioned by several participants, who pointed out how skeptical they were about raising types of fish like black cod and halibut now caught by US harvesters. They said it would likely be a re-play of how US farmed salmon technology had been pretty much co-opted in other parts of the world where cheaper labor and less environmental constraints had driven down prices so far that both farmed and wild salmon interests on the West Coast have suffered serious economic harm. -Bill Rudolph
 CORPS AGAIN NIXES LOWER SNAKE DREDGING: BARGES MAY HIT BOTTOM
Northwest towboat operators have begun a fresh round of complaints that lower Snake River ports will soon be too silted up to keep grain barges or their companies afloat, after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers quietly announced that it will not dredge the navigation channel again this year.
Environmentalists citing concerns for fish health won an injunction last year in Seattle District Court to keep the Corps from implementing a 20-year dredging plan for the lower Snake, even though the National Marine Fisheries Service had approved the strategy. The judge in the case ruled that the Corps did not spend enough effort investigating alternatives to dredging.
Since then, the Corps has completed a supplemental environmental impact statement to deal with short-term dredging issues and called for public comment until Aug. 28, one day after the agency solicited a contract for the $1 million to $5 million project, which involved dredging the channel at nine sites. But the Corps has now cancelled the contract because it doesn't have enough time to settle administrative issues before December, when dredging was scheduled to begin, according to the Corps' EIS project manager Jack Sands.
Dixon Shaver, vice president of Shaver Transportation, a Portland-based towboat company that hauls grain barges from lower Snake ports, said he thinks the Corps received so many negative comments about the plan that it has decided to kill it for the time being. Shaver said it's a huge issue, since over 40 percent of U.S. export grain is shipped from Columbia River ports.
Sands agreed that responding to all the comments on the supplemental EIS before starting the project was part of the administrative burden, but was not the only reason for canceling the dredging contract this year. He said there were "other boxes that had to be checked as well," and it didn't seem feasible that requirements would be completed in time to start the dredging this winter.
Towboaters are also concerned that the Corps plans to operate the reservoir behind Lower Granite Dam at minimum operating pool (MOP) by next April, in accordance with mandates from the hydro BiOp. The minimum operating pool would lower water levels behind the dam by one foot. Shaver said that would put barges dangerously close to the channel's bottom, which is supposed to be maintained at 14 feet below the surface water level.
"At MOP, the channel would be less than 14 feet in some places," Shaver said. Sediment has built up so quickly that unless something is done about it, the channel will only be six feet deep at Lewiston in five years, he added.
Port of Lewiston Manager Dave Doeringsfeld said that may be a bit of an overstatement. But if the Corps waits another three or four years to dredge the channel, then "we can begin foreclosing navigation on the lower Snake."
At sister port Clarkston, in eastern Washington, officials are concerned that large tourist boats will be unable to dock unless dredging starts soon. For now, sawdust barges cannot be fully loaded for fear of hitting bottom.
But Sands said the MOP question hasn't yet been decided. "The Corps does not take an advocacy role about MOP," he said, noting that it could be more of a problem this year with the BiOp in remand. But he said the transportation industry has the right to take the reservoir elevation issue to the Technical Management Team that decides many operational questions about the hydro system during the fish migration season. Last year, the TMT approved the MOP-plus-one-foot operation to keep the barges floating.
Though his company has not yet resorted to "light loading" to get barges downstream, Shaver expected that would happen if the Corps lowered Lower Granite pool to minimum operating elevation. Light loading would evaporate the profit margin for moving the barges, which typically are towed downstream four at a time.
Every inch of grain barge cargo space given up to light loading equates to $3,200 worth of grain (707 bushels) that isn't shipped, according to a 2002 Coast Guard notice. In contrast, the Corps' economic analysis said the region saved $43 million annually by using barges instead of trucking the grain to downriver ports.
In its original 2002 lawsuit, the environmental coalition Save Our Wild Salmon said the Corps' dredging plan needlessly threatened to harm "imperiled salmon and steelhead and failed to study alternatives such as breaching the lower Snake dams or sluicing sediment downstream with partial reservoir drawdowns and boosted flows."
The court granted an injunction in December 2002, ruling that the NMFS biological opinion on the Corps proposal was "arbitrary and capricious" because it failed to ensure that the action would not adversely affect critical habitat of the ESA-listed fish.
The Corps has said it would dredge during the winter to keep from impacting migrating salmon stocks. But District Court Judge Robert Lasnik ruled that it had not sufficiently investigated a 10- to 20-foot drawdown to rule it out as an alternative to dredging.
Meanwhile, the Corps is continuing to develop its 20-year dredging plan, said project manager Sands. It is the document in which the agency will address many of the alternatives questioned by the court. -B. R.
 IDAHO WATER TALKS FIZZLE, BUT CRAPO DOESN'T GIVE UP
Most environmental groups have pulled out of water talks mediated by Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo (R), saying they don't want to preclude their right to litigate for more upper Snake River water for salmon migrating in the lower Snake. Crapo had asked them to hold off on any court action until next June, hoping that some agreement could be reached by then.
Water users cried foul, pointing to an Oct. 30 brief filed by environmental lawyers in Portland that asked the federal judge in charge of the hydro BiOp remand to include the upper Snake projects in the ongoing litigation. At present, the upper Snake projects, managed by the Bureau of Reclamation for irrigation, have been covered by a separate biological opinion.
Crapo told The Idaho Statesman that the environmental groups had moved away from the collaborative process to the courts, but hoped they would return more discussion in the future. Meanwhile, "we will fight for Idaho's water," Crapo said.
The Idaho Conservation League did not agree with three other conservation groups that plan to head for court, but said they were still committed to Crapo's collaborative process. The other groups, Idaho Rivers United, American Rivers and the National Wildlife Federation, said they wouldn't ask for any more water this year than the hydro BiOp's call for 427,000 acre-feet to help meet target flows in the lower Snake. But that is little solace for water users, because upper Snake reservoirs are at record lows after four straight years of drought. -B. R.
 ANOTHER POTENTIAL LAWSUIT OVER IDAHO WATER: USERS INTEND TO SUE FEDS
A coalition of water user groups in Idaho has sent a letter to federal agencies saying they intend to sue over operation of the upper Snake River projects operated by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.
The Nov. 17 letter was a response to a move by environmental groups who filed a brief in Oregon District Court, trying to include upper Snake water issues in the hydro BiOp remand process.
In October, Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo (R) tried to mediate talks between the groups, which include the National Wildlife Federation and American Rivers, and water users, hoping to head off a lawsuit the conservation groups had already threatened. But the environmentalists pulled out Nov. 7, citing a "fundamental imbalance from the very start" because unlike the water users, they were not party to secret negotiations underway in the Snake River Basin Adjudication process.
The water users' coalition says any consultation between BOR and NOAA Fisheries over ESA-listed fish in the lower Snake "is unnecessary and contrary to law." The coalition also claims that BOR has no authority to acquire water for ESA purposes.
Environmental groups say the upper Snake water is needed to reach target flows spelled out in the hydro BiOp to help fish migration in the lower Snake.
But the water users, who range from giant agri-business Simplot and the Idaho Mint Growers Association to both large and small irrigation districts, say that BOR doesn't hold any state water rights for flow augmentation and that state watermasters are vested with sole authority to distribute water.
The letter also says that the best science doesn't show that augmented flows benefit fish and that federal agencies improperly used flow augmentation as a form of mitigation for effects of other federal actions. -B. R.
 FEDS CRY FOUL OVER ATTEMPT TO ADD UPPER SNAKE ISSUE TO BIOP CASE
A Nov. 14 brief filed by the Department of Justice in the BiOp remand (NWF v. NMFS) case in Oregon District Court takes issue with the attempt by plaintiffs to fold a potential lawsuit over upper Snake River water issues into the remand.
Conservation groups say that water from upper Snake irrigation storage projects is needed to help meet target flows for ESA-listed fish mandated in the BiOp. The upper Snake is currently managed under a separate biological opinion with the Bureau of Reclamation.
The feds' brief says the plaintiffs' request should be denied because it was never raised in their original lawsuit since it includes "a different proposed action" than reviewed in the 2000 BiOp.
It also says that plaintiffs are wrong to assume that NOAA is empowered to re-configure the proposed actions to meet a non-jeopardy ruling, when it's really up to the action agencies [BPA, BOR, BuRec] to identify the kinds of actions that will be reviewed by the federal fisheries agency.
The brief says that NOAA will perform a new analysis of any new "Reasonable, Prudent Alternative" as part of the remand, and if a proposed action includes upper Snake projects, the agency will then take it up.
The feds also said that the plaintiffs are mistaken that NOAA will exclude parts of the federal action in its revised BiOp to limit the action area to a smaller region "than that affected directly and indirectly by the federal action."
Government attorneys argued that plaintiffs' argument relied on "hypotheticals" and "allegations involving scientific issues of cause and effect." They said there was no support in the regulations for environmental attorneys' "novel theory that the action area must include all the areas where a species affected by the proposed action for any proportion of its life may roam..." -B. R.
 ECONOMISTS ADD UP COSTS, BENEFITS FROM MORE COLUMBIA IRRIGATION
According to a draft report released this month, using another million acre-feet of Columbia River water for irrigation would boost the Northwest agricultural sector's economy by $2.8 billion and add nearly 30,000 jobs, and at the same time increase agricultural use of the river by about 20 percent. The report is part of an initiative sponsored by the Washington State Department of Ecology to address natural resource issues linked to the river.
Washington's gross state product totaled about $221 billion in 2001, according to the report, with a workforce of more than 3 million last year.
A panel of economists from the University of Washington looked at several scenarios. The economists said that the total value-added impact (sales minus purchases of inputs) of withdrawing another 1 MAF for irrigation would amount to about $1.35 billion, which doesn't include possible price dampening effects from increased agricultural production.
They also estimated that a 1-MAF withdrawal would reduce revenue from hydropower production by about $9.4 million in an average water year, but wasn't likely to have significant effects on flood control or river navigation. The additional withdrawal might have some negative effects on fisheries and passive values tied to salmon runs, however.
Some scenarios included fees for water use, which the economists said could help the state mitigate the effects of increased diversions on fish and wildlife. Questions of flow and fish survival are being examined in another forum, a National Academy of Science panel commissioned by the state. Its results, expected by next March, will be used by the Department of Ecology to develop a management plan for river uses, culminating in an environmental impact statement. -B. R.
IDAHO REDD COUNTS STAY HIGH FOR SPRING CHINOOK
Wild spring chinook dug plenty of redds in Idaho this year, according to a draft report from IDFG. Many biologists had speculated that the returns would be miserably low because of poor migrating conditions for juveniles in 2001.
But it looks like most spring chinook returning this year spent three years in the ocean, which means they went to sea in 2000, effectively bypassing the second worst water year in modern memory. About 78 percent of the spring chinook returning to Rapid River hatchery were 3-ocean fish in 2003, about 60 percent of that number were females.
For the Salmon River drainage, 1120 redds were tallied altogether, compared to 965 in 2002, and 764 in 2001. Over 330 redds were counted in Marsh Creek alone, the highest count since 1973. Last year, 195 redds were counted there. None were counted in 1999, and only 36 redds were counted in 2000.
Bear Valley Creek was home to 364 redds, another best count since 1973 and up from last year's count of 245. Only 33 redds were reported in 1999.
The Elk Creek count of 331 redds was down from last year's 377, but still high enough to be the second best count since 1973. A paltry 10 redds were counted there in 1999.
Wild summer chinook redds in the Salmon drainage totaled about 784, down from last year's 859, and 2001's count of 934.
Redd counts for wild spring chinook in the Clearwater were incomplete because aerial counts had to be abandoned due to smoke from wild fires. -B. R.
 SALMON CROSSROADS CONFERENCE: SPLITTING, LUMPING, DENIAL, THE TROUGH, GOOD SHOW
The salmon recovery corps has trouble dealing with its established interactions, and some elements are having even more trouble dealing with a changing and upwards situation in salmon run dynamics. The Salmon Crossroads conference in Portland Nov. 14 was a noteworthy event involving the corps (troubled and otherwise) in discussions on the turnarounds in salmon runs. In some respects, it turns out, the event was as notable for what was not said as for what was said.
For example, what record runs? If you wandered in unawares of the conference's record-runs theme during scientist John Stein's lead-off panel presentation, you would not know that there has been any such thing as record runs. Stein of the NW Fisheries Science Center power-pointed numbers that showed that good ocean conditions do not uniformly benefit spring chinook spawning creeks, with some doing better than others.
But he said nothing about the generality of record runs. The second speaker, Ed Casillas of NOAA Fisheries, parsed bits and pieces of ocean condition changes about which, we were assured, more needs to be known. But he offered no summary of conditions or their possible effects on salmon runs.
Both scientists were splitters, offering not even a hint of lumper summaries suggesting what record runs might portend, however provisionally. Perhaps they were worried that if they so much as mentioned record runs, some of us attending might have taken that as official scientific sanction and started celebratory dancing in the aisles at the Lloyd Center DoubleTree conference room.
Bruce Suzumoto of the NW Power and Conservation Council staff, who expertly backgrounded hatchery issues in that first panel, nailed the no-lumping problem. "Scientists have yet to come to terms with record runs," he said. Indeed.
I have not run across any salmon policy player who says that record runs mean salmon recovery has happened. But there are indications on the examples of Stein and Casillas that there is effective denial that breaking records going back 65 years is of moment to salmon recovery.
Death Spiral Debunked
The denial here involves facing up to the fact that the salmon death spiral dogma that has informed recovery thinking for decades is flawed. I have been criticized for that opinion, but it's true, even if its truth does not solve lots of problems. In technical terms, it has become likely that substantial improvements in wild runs mean updated regression analysis should all but eliminate extinction risks in jeopardy factor calculations for most listed stocks. Except for Redfish Lake sockeye, which are so marginal that trying to save them is a travesty.
That's another story. The conference on record runs, ably moderated by consultant Al Wright, did not generate much in the way of new direction suggestions, save for references to cost effectiveness. The pursuit of costs began with the opening remarks of BPA Administrator Steve Wright, who introduced keynote speaker David Anderson, deputy director of the White House's Council on Environmental Quality. "People want us to recover salmon," Wright said, "but people expect government to be cost-effective."
Anderson works in a White House agency with responsibility for coordinating federal agency approaches to key environmental issues, and NW salmon recovery is large among those. In that connection, he said the administration is emphasizing through CEQ the importance of personal stewardship in volunteer efforts. He urged those working in NW salmon recovery to "stay focused on results and consequences and spending money wisely."
This column is not panel-by-panel reportage on the conference, but rather impressions of what was, despite foregoing criticism and criticism to follow, a useful enterprise. The second panel on recovery perspectives began with Washington Power Council member Tom Karier's preview of the Third Annual Report to the NW Governors on BPA expenditures on the Council's fish and wildlife program. The BPA total to date is $6.4 billion over 25 years. This is the sum that backed up the observation made by BPA's Lorri Bodi, that Northwest salmon recovery is the biggest such conservation enterprise anywhere and at any time.
The cost of regional salmon recovery efforts--which could well be as much as $10 billion from all sources over recent decades--coupled with record runs has not dampened fish management spending appetites. Columbia Basin Fish and Wildlife Authority Executive Director Rod Sando told the conference that he in effect thinks recovery efforts need to be accelerated. But he appeared to want to dissociate record runs with recovery efforts. "We hit the lottery," he said of the runs.
The Buck Stops Where?
A basic difference between Sando's fish manager recovery establishment and the utilities who provide recovery money is that the utilities are responsible to--and have a direct service and financial relationship to--people for whom they also have an obligation to serve. Utilities are obligated to a defined set of ratepayers whose names are known and whose money is billed and collected.
It is increasingly difficult to define fish manager lines of responsibility, or their goals and objectives--if any. They contend mightily for their politicized version of fish and wildlife benefits with little accountability and even less connection to, or regard for, larger public policy concerns. Rod Sando, for example, told the conference he saw a conflict between BPA's obligation to provide power at low cost with its fish and wildlife obligations. He complained that "program delivery" is "suffering from a financial crisis" and lacks "adequate funds."
Sando's view is seriously out of phase with reality. BPA lost its low-cost power competitiveness on account of fish costs as much as anything. Karier identified the BPA billions spent in recovery efforts that Bodi suggested are unparalleled anywhere, and I think surely belong in the Guinness Book of World Records. Then there is the reality of record runs.
The purpose of this account is not to beat up on NOAA scientists or Rod Sando. But it needs to be noted that the conference demonstrated again that fish management continues to be seriously out of phase with the people who pay fish recovery bills, and that good salmon news hasn't made any discernible difference so far. Following Bruce Suzumoto's remark, it also showed that scientists haven't come to terms with record runs.
Following are notes on what some panelists had to say. Lorri Bodi believes that among contending parties, there is 80 percent agreement and 20 percent remaining at issue. That's an interesting observation, but I can't decide whether it's good news or not. Rob Walton of NOAA Fisheries Salmon Recovery calls for a definition of recovery--a noble idea that needs to be tried for all of its difficulty.
NOAA Fisheries Science Center economist Mark Plummer made an engaging luncheon speech that began with the observation that fussy babies can often be soothed by wrapping them in swaddling clothes--something that he related metaphorically to science and fish and wildlife policy development. Fish and wildlife policy makers would like to be comforted by being swaddled in science, Plummer said, but that's of questionable policy value.
Jack Ohman of The Oregonian brought no cartoons for which he is deservedly famous. He said that the salmon situation reminds him of the chaotic situation in the Middle East and has him wondering who the salmon wars Yasser Arafat might be.
Jack Kaeding, executive director of FishFirst, quoted one of that volunteer organization's fish scientist resources to the effect that the record runs need to spur efforts to improve spawning habitat so that a flood of adults will have enough places to spawn. Jim Veseley of The Seattle Times made a graceful and intelligent speech relating our concern for salmon runs to our regional affinity for "wilderness in our backyards." Larry Cassidy of the Power & Conservation Council (and incoming chair of the Pacific Salmon Commission) pointed out that fish counts over Bonneville may be of interest, but "recovery is in the watersheds."
John Esler of Portland General, who chairs the Oregon Fish & Wildlife Commission, picked part of the cast and hosted the final forum group, which included Liz Hamilton of the NW Sportsfishers Association, Bill Rudolph of NW Fishletter, Greg Delwiche of BPA, Plummer, Rick George of the Umatilla fish program, Sando and Bob Lohn, NOAA fisheries regional director. Forum members were responsive to audience questions, but in the model of NW public discussions, didn't mix it up among themselves. Lohn of course has no difficulty in saying that record runs may be with us for some time.
I pitched in with a challenge to something related to a question from Umatilla Coop's articulate manager Steve Eldrige, which was, how long will recovery continue? There was talk of the need for re-emphasized recovery programs in good times to prepare the region for the "trough" of the next downturn. The logic here is that if good times only mean you need to redouble efforts in anticipation of a dreaded trough to come, then recovery would last forever. I can't remember much in the way of an answer.
Conferences are not negotiating sessions to reach consensus on truth, beauty and salmon recovery. The purpose of the conference was to get attention paid to new recovery directions in light of big runs, and my take on it all in personal observations and in talking with some who attended was that it was a pretty good show. There is talk about follow-up events for which you are invited to stay tuned.
And as for the runs from my non-scientist lumper take, let me offer the following. When we shut down our FishWeb for the season at the end of October, Bonneville Dam counts totaled 918,073 chinook adults and 75,137 jacks--this comparing to 10-year averages of 333,166 and 45,197. At Lower Granite, 98,607 adults and 20,799 jacks had transited, which compares with 10-year averages of 38,050 and 5,271.
Let discussions of new directions continue. -Cyrus Noe
LINKS/DOCUMENTS FROM NW FISHLETTER 171:: Below are listed links and documents referred to in the text of NW Fishletter issue 171.
- Salmon of the Americas
- Coastal Alliance for Aquaculture Reform
- NW Fishletter 166, Aug.15, 2003
- Supplemental Environmental Analysis For Purposes Of 2003-2004 Dredging (Lower Snake And Clearwater Rivers, Washington And Idaho)
- Draft Report, Columbia River Initiative, University of Washington Economic Analysis, Nov. 10. 2003
THE ARCHIVE :: Previous NW Fishletter issues and supporting documents.
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