Other Factors Aid Sockeyeby Liz Hamilton
The Oregonian, July 28, 2008
Hooray for Snake River sockeye ("Sockeye shock fish experts, fill Columbia," July 24)! Thanks to high flows and court-ordered spill, our coma patient is awake and blinking. As usual, the federal agency in charge of recovery claims "the primary influence is the ocean."
So let's look at how other sockeye runs are faring in the ocean. The Frasier sockeye run, which is the West Coast's largest run, appears to be doing OK this year. Some of the other smaller runs in Washington coastal streams appear to be doing OK. Lake Washington has not had a strong run this year.
This indicates that ocean conditions are probably average for sockeye in general, but no run outside the Columbia River has had such a significant increase compared with the Snake River run.
If ocean conditions were the primary factor, then all sockeye runs should have seen a very large increase in survival, right? If ocean conditions are so good, why have West Coast salmon stocks collapsed, precipitating a federal disaster declaration?
There have been good ocean conditions before without magnitude increases in sockeye. This points to improved freshwater and passage conditions (high flows and spill) as significant factors in this near-record sockeye run.
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