"The arrival of the national Coastal Conservation Organization
(CCA) in the Northwest promises to awake political activity by
anglers angered by continual overfishing of wild and hatchery stocks
by commercial and sport interests from California to Alaska. Whatever
fisheries groups you belong to, demand that they take action to fight
for salmon and steelhead in the political arena."
Sport anglers and wild and hatchery salmo-nids in the Northwest
are always getting the shaft from Northwest politicians and state
and federal fisheries officials because WE DON'T SPEAK UP
WITH A UNIFIED POLITICAL VOICE!
Each summer season Northwest-origin wild (and hatchery) chinook
and coho are massacred in the millions in the ocean from California to
Alaska by indiscriminate commercial trolling in mixed-stock fisheries.
This has done immense harm to many wild stocks of chinook and
Smart salmon management dictates that salmon should be caught
as adults either close to, or once in, their home spawning streams.
This simple management action would provide maximum protection
for weak runsand virtually every river has some weak wild runs.
Why don't the fisheries conservation organizations we financially
support speak up for point-of-origin salmon harvest?
Politics is the BEST way to address the problem. Existing
conservation organizations such as as TU, FFF, NSIA,
Oregon Trout, Cal Trout, Native Fish Society, Washington
Trout, Wild Steelhead Society, Northwest Steelheaders,
Wildlife Federation, and dozens of other clubs are all good
to wonderful organizations, BUT
BUT mostly they address FRESHWATER ISSUES and
avoid hand-to-hand political battle with ocean commercial
(and sport) over-harvest of wild AND hatchery salmon
originating in the four-state area of California, Oregon,
Idaho and Washington.
One of the most effective political lobbies/organizations that
usually GETS ITS WAY is the NRA (National Rifle Association).
If we want salmon to exist in the future WE NEED TO ORGANIZE
AND USE THIS SUCCESSFUL ASSOCIATION AS A MODEL
Let's select a few salmon-friendly politicians, then with our
very large numbers, organize and effect some elections on
both the state and national stage. We need representatives,
we need senators. The swing votes of unified sport anglers
and conservationists, talking to their immediate families,
friends and co-workers, can be the difference. We can
certainly do that on the state level if directed to the right
politicians! And we can do that on the national level as well!
Let's just do it for the salmon!
The success of the Obama political campaign was in part
due to their email presence through which they received
millions in campaign contributions and sent out their action
messages. The tools are there to be used. Only our will is
The fisheries conservation organizations we support financially
through memberships, auctions, and donations need to FIGHT
POLITICALLY to reduce indiscriminate ocean commercial
and sport harvest of chinook and coho. We would be beneficial
witnesses to miraculous improvements in salmon-run returns in
tidewater and freshwater portions of over a thousand rivers and
streams along the entire Pacific Coast. Returning runs could be
increased in one season by up to 200%, even more for some
rivers, by simply cutting indiscriminate ocean harvest. Instead
of the Columbia and Sacramento rivers struggling to get back
minimum adult salmon runs each year, the adult runs would
increase dramatically, with the Columbia alone seeing two to
four million adult salmon or more each season. Coastal rivers
would look like Alaskan chinook streams again.
There is a scarcity of chinook salmon BECAUSE OF ocean
commercial harvest! All the organizations I have mentioned
primarily attempt to improve freshwater habitat. That is important
work, but even if you fix the habitat there is still not enough for baby
salmon to eat because our streams are food-poor after 100 years
of salmon over-harvest.
There are few ocean-returning salmon carcasses in our rivers,
thus over 90% of wild fingerlings and smolts die before they
ever get a chance to enter the ocean. We need to immediately
artificially FERTILIZE freshwater streams (as we do land crops)
to provide plentiful food for baby salmonand we need to STOP
indiscriminate ocean harvest of wild and hatchery chinook (and coho).
THEN WE WILL HAVE WILD SALMON BACK TO OUR
RIVERS IN BIG NUMBERS! The science has been done!
Our fisheries conservation organizations need to present a united
front and DEMAND that state and federal officials act on behalf
of wild salmon. Habitat restoration is important, however
improving the stream food supply increases salmon and steelhead
smolt production by up to 200% or more in one year! More wild
smolts mean more wild salmon.
Stream fertilization is cheap and easy when considering the great
benefits of doubled or tripled adult wild-fish runs. All that is needed
is a car, a person who knows the stream and a few sacks of fish
food in pellet form delivered on a scheduled basis to specific areas.
Clubs could adopt streams to fertilize. Instead of spending more
millions on redundant studies, our tax monies should be spent on
FOOD DISTRIBUTION IN STREAMS. This could also
create local river-keeper type jobs as well.
And it can be done for a fraction of the cost of the hundreds
(thousands?) of government tax-supported studies that continually
tell us how bad things are, but do absolutely nothing to FIX the
problem. They only add to the morass of confusion and
hopelessness, leaving sport anglers feeling frustrated and angry.
BUT what good is that habitat if few wild chinook are allowed
to escape intense commercial (and in some places sport) ocean
In addition, ocean salmon need to eat herring, smelt, anchovies,
shrimp and a myriad of other food sources. For almost 100 years
state and federal authorities have continually allowed destruction
of many of these fish! Commercial sardine, anchovy, herring and
other valuable salmon-food fisheries should be substantially reduced
along the entire Pacific Coast to allow millions more salmon and
steel-head to survive and provide healthy runs once again.
Healthy salmon runs need lots of forage fish and our fisheries
"managers" allow too much commercial harvest on their base
food supply! Until our fishery organizations DEMAND our
political representatives CHANGE commercial-fishing quotas
our wild salmon will only continue to disappear!
We need large numbers of healthy wild fish to go unmolested in
the ocean, return to spawn, and their fingerlings to be assisted
with organized stream feeding to quadruple the number of wild
smolts leaving the streams each year! That is an ACTION plan
that would SOLVE the salmon problem. We can get to Mars, so
why is this so tough? Because we lack leadership and resolve.
Furthermore, we need to build up organizational backbone,
legal and political skills, and strong public spokespersons
when it comes to predators. We kill rats, mice, and anything
else that gets in the way of our food supply. But heaven forbid
eliminating wild-salmon-killing animals and birds that we have
allowed to become artificially over-populated by feeding on
hatchery smolts or adults!
Seals and sea lions are left to attack wild salmon at falls and
the bases of dams where they are ensured to do the worst
damage imaginable. And now we stand by while they start
attacking the one wild-fish population in the Columbia that
has been doing wellthe venerable spawning-size, all-wild,
productive sturgeon! We should demand support for predator
control from our national conservation organizations, and support
those that lead and speak out.
We have become afraid to speak our mind and forcefully
point out the absurdities that exist in our fisheries management
(actually horrible mis-management).
Those of you who, like me, are tired of rolling over and
playing dead need to support organizations (financially
and verbally) that have the perseverance, know-how,
and commitment to politically fight for strong runs of wild
and hatchery salmon.
Support strong organizations; demand that the ones you're
a member of join the fight for chinook and coho salmon,
reduced ocean commercial harvest, stream enrichment, less
ocean harvest of salmon forage fishes and crustaceans; and
GET ACTIVE! Fishermen united CAN make the difference!
~ Frank Amato
Credit: This Editorial first appeared in the August 2008
issue of Salmon-Trout-Steelhead and is used with
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