November 16, 1998
Salmon, predator balance is difficult
Never in history has anything so wrongfully misled people as these never ending salmon fears and recovery plans. Who believes that spot planting of trees along a 17-mile long stretch of Sammamish River and buying a few farms will bring salmon back. It will not. Trees along Sammamish are not going to have any impact on the water temperature or shade to affect salmon returning to their spawning grounds or increase their numbers.
July and August are the two months when the temperature increases significantly, but take note: Salmon entering Lake Washington adapt quickly to higher temperatures, and it takes only approximately two hours to do so.
Last summer, without shade, our Sockeyes loved Lake Washington's 70 degrees, with no harm and no trees or shade. Unreal fears are costing us millions of dollars too much. One US Senator has said it could cost us over $300 million per year. The planners and their studies focus too much on farmers, sports fishermen and logging, and have practically overlooked other problems.
Do not forget the role of fisheries to increase the fry production ... Just think what each salmon will cost if and when the Elwa Dam comes down. (How about $1,500 a pound?) What a bargain!! By over-protecting natural predators, we are ruining our salmon runs. Take for instance the 6,000/7,000 seals and sea lions in our area.
They consume an average of 20 pounds per day, an excess of 100,000 pounds daily. Bad as it sounds, a seal only goes for the belly of the salmon and then hunts for another. What an astonishing waste.
Furthermore, seals increase by about 8-10% per year. What will that do to the population in the 10, 15 or 20 years ahead?
Sport fishermen and commercial fishing can be regulated, depending on supply.
The next obstacle is the river fishing by the Native Americans. They take most of what is left. It makes no sense. But, remember that Native Americans are a separate nation protected by U.S. treaties.
A Coho will lay about 2,500 eggs, but only 2% can be expected to return for reproduction. A Steelhead 2.5-5%. A Chinook or Chum will only return 0.5 to 1% of 4,000 to 5,000 eggs. This could be less now.
Therefore, we have to have people appointed that understand the true problems and are not afraid to go to the bottom of it.
- Get people, environmentalists included, informed about what the true problems are, and that the federal protection laws have to be changed. We cannot have salmon on the one hand and protect the predators on the other. People must use common sense when trying to solve these problems.
- Native Americans must be restricted from devastating runs by river-netting. They must be taught the consequences of their over-fishing of returning spawners for future runs. A buy-out or compensation to the Native Americans could be negotiated to stop the river-fishing, also.
- Because of the immense costs and commitment to the people of the state of Washington, these issues should be placed on the ballot.
Do not get me wrong. I love salmon and like most predators, in their place. This balance is difficult, but must be made. Salmon and predators and people depend on it!
Knut Olson, Woodinville