We all know about the economic value of healthy salmon runs to our northwest rivers. Tourism, commercial and recreation dollars and the well being of many towns along both the Columbia and north coast is vital to hundreds of thousands of people.
How about the ecological value? The value of salmon to the well being to the river in this region cannot be counted because it is huge.
Having healthy salmon runs and what they add to the ecosystem is important to not only future generations of salmon but other salmonid species like steelhead and trout as well.
Juvenile salmon and steelhead depend on the nutrients supplied by the decaying carcasses to sustain them during their stay in fresh water before their out migration to salt water. Aquatic insect that these juveniles also feed on depend on those carcasses not to mention other stream side animals that feed on the dead salmon.
When this cycle is interrupted by a lack of salmon then the whole river life cycle is interrupted. Young salmonids will not survive to return to the river for future generations. Without salmon and steelhead returning to their spawning grounds the future will be bleak! Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife claimed that 5 spawning salmon per river mile is enough to sustain the needs of the river for the future. Thanks God that science and a federal judge intervened.
We need spawning salmon and I cannot put it more succinctly than that. When wild salmon are removed from the system, whether it be by sports anglers, commercial fisheries or even tribal nets then those fish will, obviously, not spawn and the progeny they would have produced will be lost forever. Those decaying carcasses will not be their for the salmon and steelhead juveniles to feed upon.
Am I painting a bleak picture? Yes I am but it's reality folks.
Those of you that use salmon roe as bait might want to think about the long range consequences when killing a female chinook for her prized eggs.
Many experts think that the over harvest of egg laying fall chinook contribute to the decline of coastal fall chinook runs.
I would think ODFW would recognize "hen hunting" as a culprit to dwindling salmon populations but they seem to think that this is not a problem.
The numbers don't lie and instead of ranting about seas lions and Caspian Terns some of you bait guys should release that over ripe hen.
to Bill Bakke for some of the material used in this post