Biologists say Outlook Grim
by Associated Press
PORTLAND -- The outlook is grim for wild salmon survival across much of the North Pacific, especially in Russia, biologists said Tuesday at the first international conference to assess salmon health on both sides of the Pacific.
Poaching, overfishing, loss of habitat from logging and mining, and the expected impact of increased oil and gas exploration have combined to threaten wild salmon across the vast but sparsely populated reaches of the Russian Far East, experts agreed.
"In many areas, you just don't have fish to catch," said Mikhail Skopets, a Russian Academy of Sciences biologist who has spent 25 years studying salmon in the area stretching from China to the Bering Sea.
In highly populated areas such as Japan and the Pacific Northwest, the greatest threat to wild stocks is loss of habitat from urbanization and dams.
Only Canada has maintained relatively healthy wild stocks, mostly along the many pristine rivers in remote areas of British Columbia, biologists said.
"Is there any way to break this pattern of one river after another with salmon stocks declining?" asked Guido Rahr, president of the Wild Salmon Center, which organized the conference for biologists from Canada, Japan, Russia and the United States.
"We have new things we can do in the new century that are different than the way we have been doing things," he said. "It's a very dire situation."
The scientists gathered to pool their data on salmon stocks across the region in order to better understand the changes in fish population.
The effort began in 1995 with a team of Oregon State University and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife biologists who wanted to create a regional map of salmon migration and habitat.
A report on their findings is expected in March.
learn more on topics covered in the film
see the video
read the script
learn the songs