West Coast Sal­mon Lag As Con­di­tions Im­prove

Saltwater Sportsman - - Tod / Casts + Blasts -

The an­nual Cal­i­for­nia Cur­rent Ecosys­tem Sta­tus Re­port, which in­forms the Pa­cific Fish­ery Man­age­ment Coun­cil about con­di­tions and trends that af­fect species and fish­ing in the en­tire West Coast ma­rine ecosys­tem, was re­cently re­leased. While there is cause for op­ti­mism, the im­me­di­ate fu­ture of sal­mon re­mains bleak.

“Over­all, we’re see­ing some pos­i­tive signs as the ocean re­turns to a more pro­duc­tive state,” said Toby Garfield, a re­search sci­en­tist and act­ing di­rec­tor of the South­west Fish­eries Science Cen­ter. Af­ter the ex­treme ma­rine heat wave from 2014 through 2016 dis­rupted the Cal­i­for­nia Cur­rent ecosys­tem, ocean con­di­tions across most of the West Coast are re­turn­ing to av­er­age. How­ever, some af­ter­ef­fects per­sist.

The cen­tral and south­ern parts of the West Coast face low snow pack and po­ten­tial drought in 2018, putting sal­mon at risk as they mi­grate back up coastal rivers to spawn. And while plank­ton species, the foun­da­tion of the ma­rine food web, have shifted back slightly to­ward the fat-rich, cool-water species that im­prove the growth and sur­vival of sal­mon and other fish, re­cent re­search found fewer ju­ve­nile sal­mon, and con­se­quently adult sal­mon re­turns will likely re­main de­pressed un­til suc­ces­sive gen­er­a­tions ben­e­fit from im­prov­ing ocean con­di­tions.

Sal­mon may need more time to show the ben­e­fits, the re­port said. Spec­i­mens sam­pled off the north­west coast in 2017 were es­pe­cially small and scarce, sug­gest­ing poor feed­ing con­di­tions linger off the Columbia River es­tu­ary. Ju­ve­nile sal­mon that en­ter the ocean this year will not re­turn to spawn in the Columbia and other rivers for two years or more, so fish­er­men should not ex­pect adult sal­mon num­bers to im­prove much un­til then.

SLOW RE­BOUND: Last­ing ef­fects of the past ma­rine heat wave con­tinue to plague West Coast sal­mon.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.