Decline of wild salmon

Home Forums Due September 3 by 11:59 pm Decline of wild salmon

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    Based off of the chapter, in my opinion the decline of wild chinook salmon directly caused the creation of Salmo Domesticus. As Greenburg goes throughout the history of humans and salmon, he shows us how these two species have always conflicted. He tells us of how dams in rivers slowly led to the extirpation of many salmon runs, ultimately ending with the example of how the damming of the Snake and Columbia rivers is said to be worth sacrificing “salmon runs 16 million strong” (pp. 27). As humans developed more and destroyed more salmon habitat, Pacific salmon have become “now extinct in 40 percent of the rivers where they are known to exist in California, Oregon, Washington and Idaho,” (pp. 28), showing the devastating effect humans had on salmon runs. As a result, humans developed Salmo Domesticus. A demand for salmon meat was still strong, but there were few salmon to fill this need. Greenburg shows us how humans did to salmon the same as they did to other wild species: they sought to tame them, and make them more efficient. Comparing to the development of breeding sheep and cattle, salmon were surprisingly easy to develop to be quite efficient. After just a few generations of breeding, domestically raised salmon now require less than 3 lb of food for 1 lb of meat, compared to wild salmon that need 6 lb of food to produce 1 lb of meat. Of course, now just as the decline of wild salmon caused the creation of farmed salmon, the existence of farmed salmon is causing the decline of wild salmon. The chapter introduces many environmental concerns of farming salmon, including the loss of genetic diversity, creating less hardy fish that may out compete wild fish but not able to make it to the reproduction stage, algae blooms, parasites, and diseases. These two issues feed off each other, making the other worse.


    I think it is interesting how decisions were made to create these large dams and sacrifice large areas of salmon habitat. It makes me wonder if the ecology of where the dam was to be built was truly understood and if the people who made the decisions even looked into the impacts forfeiting such a large food source could have on communities and surrounding economies.


    I strongly agree with your conclusion that these two issues only make each other worse as they progress. It’s hard to think of possible solutions to this problem when what should have been a good solution only made the problem worse and in turn the “solution” only needed to be implemented more. There are so many ways that Salmo domesticus harms wild salmon that it probably wont ever be a viable solution.


    I also wondered how much effects on wildlife was expected when building dams. It must be long and expensive process and a lot of research was done to build those things but I don’t think we ever be able to expect real damage we have brought to nature.

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Fish and Fisheries in a Changing World