Salmon: Faster Learnersby Editorial Board
Seattle Post-Intelligencer, December 16, 2007
Things aren't going swimmingly for salmon anywhere around us.
To the north, a worrisome new study points to potentially serious problems from British Columbia's proliferation of fish farms. In a study in the prestigious journal Nature, scientists said fish farms are so tightly packed in British Columbia's Broughton Archipelago that sea lice infestations could completely wipe out wild pink salmon from some rivers. While there's certainly some ambiguity in any study, this makes us particularly happy about the limited amount of fish farming in Puget Sound.
On the Columbia River system, a Bonneville Power Administration plan for making dams safer appears to be skating on thin legal and scientific ice. U.S. District Judge James Redden gave the government an extra two weeks to work on part of the recovery planning, but indicated he will be less than amused if they come back with a key biological opinion as inadequate as two past ones he rejected.
In Seattle's front yard, the Puget Sound Partnership's efforts offer hope of considerable progress. But the difficulties can't be underestimated as the efforts to improve water for fish, orcas and humans face challenges not just from current activities but also from past and future trends. As a recent Seattle P-I series documented, the industrial legacy along the Duwamish River poses huge questions about contaminated runoff with every storm. And a National Wildlife Federation study earlier this year said the sea level rise and other effects of global warming could harm salmon.
Over thousands of years, salmon have adapted to the Northwest's environment. We must be faster learners in what amounts to a sink-or-swim test of our ability to live healthy lives.
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