Saving The Salmon Essay, Research Paper
Saving the Salmon
Native Americans, the first humans in this area, have used salmon for several thousands of years. Presently, seven species of salmon are on the endangered species list. In addition to natural problems, salmon have to deal with the problems brought on by human technologies. Logging, overfishing, and water pollution by cattle waste, pesticides and herbicides are only a few of the difficulties salmon deal with.
Salmon began to evolve into the species around today about six million years ago. Salmon have been used as a food source for humans for thousands of years. Humans used large numbers of salmon as far back as 9,000 years ago. The early salmon runs were perhaps the most productive in the history of salmon. The Colombia River made netting, spearing, and trapping the fish pretty easy for the native people.
During the Ice Age, salmon took refuge in areas such as the southern Oregon coastline, the California coastline and the Queen Charlotte Islands of British Colombia. These areas were not covered in ice, or affected by unstable rivers. Salmon were most likely more abundant when the climate was cool and wet; and less abundant during warm, dry periods.
The main species of Salmon found in Oregon are Chinook, Chum, Sockeye, and Coho. These species are mostly anadromous, living most of their lives in the ocean; although they are hatched and they spawn in fresh water. Some species do spend most of their lives in fresh water, and among those that don t; the fish migrate at different times. These are called runs; there are fall runs and spring runs. Coho and Chinook salmon inhabit Washington, Oregon, Idaho and northern California. Sockeye, chum, and pink salmon are found mainly in British Colombia and Alaska.
Seven types of salmon have been places on the endangered species list. During the mid-1800 s, it is estimated that 16 million adult salmon returned to the Colombia River drainage to spawn. That number is now estimated at one-tenth of the original 16 million. More than 70 percent of the salmon on many streams aren t wild. Hatchery fish dominate the runs; 9 out of 10 runs that were originally wild are now extinct.
Salmon face many problems from humans. Logging around streams causes erosion, which can trigger topsoil to flow into the rivers and streams. This abundance of soil smothers salmon eggs, which are very fragile the first two days. Golf courses located close to salmon spawning grounds can pollute the water because of fertilizer and river water mixing and running back into the stream. Juvenile fish need to have quick-moving, cool water to help get them to the ocean. Hydroelectric dams can raise water temperature, slow down the water speed and the turbines kill many fish before they can even get downstream. Fish ladders were put in for the adult salmon to aid their return upstream, but only a few fish make it over the dam. Many streams are poisoned by nitrogen runoff, which is cattle waste. Herbicides, pesticides, and wastewater from washing cars all produce toxic runoff. Overfishing by both commercial and sport fisherman diminish the fish supply. Sewage that isn t treated and runoff from paved roads that collects motor oil and other toxins also poison streams. Toxic and warm water, due to industrial activities, makes the water bad for salmon.
The riverbanks need to be kept free of things causing erosion and toxins. Logging should be moved back and kept at a minimum. Cattle need to be fenced away from rivers and the waste should be treated before being used as fertilizer. Water can be recycled and fertilizer use limited on golf courses and in homes. The dams should be redesigned, although it would be best if some were removed. Homeowners can purchase water saving toilets to conserve water. Wetlands that help rainwater to filter through soil need to be preserved and sewage has got to be treated correctly and effectively. Pollution from industry and the amount of fish that can be caught should be controlled.
Based on what I have learned in class and what I have read for this paper, I have come to no solid opinion concerning the salmon issue. I do believe that we should save the salmon, since our new developments and technologies have lead to their endangerment. On the other hand, I also believe that the salmon should have to adapt to new environments to survive. Other species have had to change the way they reproduce and survive in order to save the species. This is a problem that needs attention. In the January 1999 issue of Scientific American, Robert Bell-Irving says, Salmon are our last chance to show that we can live with a natural abundance without destroying it.
Once the salmon have been recovered, I think that the Native American tribes should have more privileges to fish the salmon than anyone else should, since they have been utilizing that resource longer, and it is part to their heritage.
Some problems faced by salmon today are some that can easily be taken care of. Humans need to be careful about their water usage and water treatment. Other difficulties, such as logging and dams, need more planning and cooperation. Keeping the logging practice away from streambanks and riverbanks will help. Creating diversions around dams so the fish can get to their spawning grounds can increase reproduction.
Once the fish population has reached stable numbers, humans need to be careful to not let the problem get out of hand again. Native Americans should have the first chance to fish the salmon, and then other Americans can utilize the resource. The problem can be solved, although not everyone will be happy with the end results.
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Whitman, David. Hook, line and sadly, stinker. U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT. 22 March 1999: 27-28.
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