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Commentaries and editorials

Salmon Numbers Deceptive

by Kyla Kenny
Spokesman Review, July 14, 2010

This year's high return of salmon in the Columbia-Snake system is indeed encouraging ("Record return of sockeye," July 1). But the sockeye producing this record return are not wild, sustainable fish; they're products of a hatchery.

Snake River sockeye and the 12 other ESA-listed salmonid species in the Columbia-Snake basin are simply not the same runs that once generated billions of dollars in jobs and income to fishing communities and sustained Puget Sound orcas. And none of them are anywhere close to recovery under the ESA.

Most scientists agree that restoring wild Snake River salmon and steelhead requires removal of the four outdated and unnecessary dams on the Lower Snake River. The fact that anglers can now enjoy a few days of fishing for mostly hatchery salmon is good news to some extent, but until we remove these four dams, wild salmon will continue to swim toward extinction.

Related Sites:
Factors affecting sockeye salmon returns to the Columbia River in 2008, Northwest Fisheries Science Center, 2/09

Table 5. Estimated outmigration of sockeye salmon smolts from the Sawtooth Basin in Idaho
and adult returns passing Lower Granite Dam. Last two columns added by bluefish.
Out-migration Year Estimated Sockeye Juveniles Adult Return Year Adults Passing Lower Granite Dam Index SAR (%) Adults Arriving in Stanley Basin Index SAR (%)
1998 96,669 2000 299 0.31 257 0.26
1999 24,664 2001 36 0.15 26 0.10
2000 5,298 2002 55 1.04 22 0.42
2001 7,356 2003 14 0.19 3 0.04
2002 16,958 2004 113 0.67 27 0.16
2003 9,603 2005 18 0.19 6 0.06
2004 9,749 2006 15 0.15 4 0.04
2005 68,855 2007 46 0.07 4 0.01
2006 109,779 2008 805 0.73 636 0.58
2007 88,398 2009 838 0.95

Note: Last two columns added by bluefish. NW Science Center may be changing the Column 5, Index SAR, as they have recently learned of some errors in the assumptions regarding column 2, Estimated Sockeye Juvenile data.

bluefish notes: a SAR of 2.0% is considered the minimum necessary for a self-sustaining Sockeye poplulation.

Report Conclusion: In summary, the results discussed here provide a consistent pattern to explain the large return of adult sockeye to the Columbia River in 2008. Based on these results, we conclude that the factors responsible for the high return largely acted on fish downstream of Bonneville Dam and during the marine component of their life cycle, and not in the river upstream of Bonneville Dam.

Kyla Kenny, Spokane
Salmon Numbers Deceptive
Spokesman Review, July 14, 2010

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