Hatcheries cause salmon boom and bust

August 8, 2012

You’ve probably heard about Northern California’s bumper crop of salmon this year. Fishermen are going nuts, hauling in their catch before noon. And it may seem like great news for the survival of this struggling species.

But hold down your enthusiasm. About 90 percent of those fish are from state hatcheries, which means they are artificially bred and released as spawn. As such, their biodiversity is pretty limited, which may be behind the boom and bust population cycle these days. The hatchery fish are apparently a whole lot less resilient to changes in the ocean system. [California Watch].

What’s worse is that the state lacks proper standards to handle the 40 million salmon it produces each year, according to a new study. The state doesn’t do enough field monitoring of released fish, nor does it even know the basic geographic boundaries of salmon runs. [Sacramento Bee]

In other news, two bills — one in the U.S. Senate and one in the State Assembly — to limit or ban the sale of genetically modified salmon have stalled. [California Watch]. And experts are worried that invasive zebra and quagga mussels are “just a boatload away” from populating the San Francisco Bay. [Contra Costa Times]

Good news on leatherback turtles. We wrote recently about the spike in numbers this year, and more sightings have been recorded recently off the San Francisco and Monterey bays [Bay City News Service]

And remember the Cal Fish & Game president, Dan Richards, who got into the hot seat 6 months ago after he bagged a mountain lion at an Idaho resort? Apparently, there’s a good chance he’s going to be fired today. He blames “enviro-terrorists” for his political demise [San Jose Mercury News]

Here’s something fun to look at. The California Air Resources Board has released a visual tool to show the biggest greenhouse gas emitters in the state. [KQED Climate Watch]



About the Author

Alison Hawkes was a Bay Nature editor from 2011-2017. Before Bay Nature she worked in journalism for more than a decade as a former newspaper reporter turned radio producer turned web editor with each rendition bringing her closer to her dream of covering environmental issues. She co-founded Way Out West, a site dedicated to covering Bay Area environmental news.