Northwest NEWS

March 29, 1999

Editorial

The real goal is to prevent extinction

   I would like to offer another perspective to a letter in the March 8th edition of the Woodinville Weekly addressing stream restoration efforts and cautioning against implementing further enhancement measures to save endangered salmon.

   The letter writer is particularly concerned with the loss of "cherished lifestyles," such as kayaking and inner-tubing. But what about the lifestyles of recreational fishermen, hikers, and naturalists?

   What about the lifestyles of commerical fishermen? What about the lifestyles of Native Americans for whom the salmon is truly sacred? But more importantly, what about the life of an animal which has evolved over millions of years? People don't need to kayak down rivers to live. But salmon do need rivers to survive.

   The writer states, "People should decide exactly how much they are willing to sacrifice ... and then let their elected officials know what these limits are..." I believe people have decided what their limits are. The lawmakers are acting upon the voice of the majority, which has said they are not willing to allow another species to be erased from this earth.

   The writer is wrong when she says "the goal is ... to provide sufficient fish returns for profitable fish kills by the fishing industry." The absolute goal is to prevent extinction. The commercial and recreational benefits of healthy fish runs are an additional incentive.

   Salmon have become an icon of environmental protection because of their importance to so many diverse groups of people. In their environment, they are a keystone, meaning many other species rely upon or are influenced by their existence. By preventing one animal from vanishing, we maintain many different "cherished lifestyles" and a cherished creature.

Paula White, fisheries biologist