Wild Salmon Center Newsletter October, 2008
In this issue
- Sockeye added to IUCN Global Red List of Threatened Species
- Landmark Legislation Introduced to Protect Salmon Strongholds
- Stronghold Partnership Makes a Splash!
- Wild Salmon Center Testifies in front of the Oregon Board of Forestry
- New Education Center Opens
- Notes from the Field: Kol Biostation
Scientists find that nearly one-quarter of world's sockeye salmon are at risk of extinction.
A global assessment led by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Salmonid Specialist Group has found that nearly one-quarter of the world's sockeye salmon subpopulations are listed as threatened and endangered and has resulted in Pacific sockeye being placed on the IUCN's Global Red List of Threatened Species. Of the 80 subpopulations of sockeye species that existed in recent history, five have gone extinct, 17 are characterized as threatened (23% of existing subpopulations), and two in the Columbia River were listed as Near Threatened. Most of the critically endangered sockeye runs are in British Columbia.
The IUCN Assessment is the first global assessment of the commercially and recreationally valuable sockeye and is based on the largest collection of data ever assembled on salmon abundance. Data came from 243 spawning locations across the Pacific Rim and was obtained from universities, and federal, state, provincial, and indigenous groups in Canada, Russia, and the US. This assessment represents the first in a series devoted to all species of Pacific salmon. The Salmonid Specialist Group was formed in 2001 by the Species Survival Commission of the IUCN. Assessments conducted by the group are lead by Dr. Pete Rand, the conservation biologist for the State of the Salmon, a joint program of the Wild Salmon Center and Ecotrust.
About the IUCN Red List
The IUCN Red List is the world's most comprehensive inventory of the global conservation status of plant and animal species. The IUCN relies heavily on groups such as Wild Salmon Center and our partners to provide data on species abundance and distribution, which is critical to their assessment.
How does a species make the Red List?
Criteria such as rate of decline, population size, area of geographic distribution, and degree of population and distribution fragmentation are used to classify species into one of nine groups: Extinct, Extinct in the Wild, Critically Endangered, Endangered, Vulnerable, Near Threatened, Least Concern, and also Data Deficient, and Not Evaluated. Assessments are conducted in a peer reviewed manner through IUCN Species Survival Commission (SSC) Specialist Groups (such as the Salmonid Specialist Group), which are Red List Scientific Authorities responsible for a species, group of species or specific geographic area, or an entire class. They are updated based on continuing review, as new analyses and information become available.
For more information:
All West Coast senators join together to back bipartisan salmon bill.
Washington D.C. -- In September, U.S. Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) introduced a bipartisan bill to support the protection and restoration of the healthiest remaining wild Pacific salmon ecosystems in North America -- "Salmon Strongholds." The Pacific Salmon Stronghold Conservation Act will provide federal support and resources for collaborative, high-value conservation projects in a network of the most abundant, productive, and diverse wild salmon ecosystems. Resources would be directed toward voluntary, incentive-based conservation efforts in stronghold basins across Washington, Oregon, Idaho, California, and Alaska. Healthy wild salmon ecosystems provide clean water and increased economic, ecological, cultural, and health benefits for our communities.
"While current federal salmon recovery efforts focus on recovering salmon listed under the Endangered Species Act aiming to restore what we've lost, the Salmon Stronghold Act aims to protect what we already have. This legislation complements ongoing recovery efforts to ensure the future viability of healthy wild Pacific salmon runs for generations to come." - U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell
The primary purposes of the bill are to:
- Provide statutory direction to focus resources on protecting healthy salmon ecosystems
- Promote enhanced coordination and cooperation of federal, tribal, state and local governments, non-governmental organizations, and private landowners in implementing high value salmon conservation projects in salmon strongholds
- Leverage private funding to support cooperative conservation in stronghold basins
- Protect key production zones for commercial and recreational salmon fisheries, thereby sustaining thousands of jobs and maintaining a source of sustainably harvested local seafood
- Save billions of dollars in future restoration and stock rebuilding efforts by protecting our healthiest remaining wild salmon populations now
For more information:
How you can make a difference:
- Call and thank Senator Cantwell for her work to protect Salmon Strongholds: 202-224-3441
- Make a donation to Wild Salmon Center
Salmon Stronghold strategy makes front page news.
Last month, the Oregonian featured the North American Salmon Stronghold Partnership highlighting our partner-based strategy to accelerate conservation of the healthiest and most productive wild salmon ecosystems in North America - Salmon Strongholds. The Wild Salmon Center's participation in the Stronghold Partnership is a key component of our mission to identify, understand, and protect the healthiest wild salmon ecosystems of the North Pacific.
The Stronghold Partnership and Wild Salmon Center hosted a two-day watershed tour of the Illinois River Basin in southern Oregon, a stronghold for wild coho, steelhead, and fall Chinook.
The Tour Included:
- Wild Salmon Center and North American Salmon Stronghold Partnership staff
- Local ranchers, landowners and business owners
- Illinois Valley Soil and Water Conservation District staff
- Fish biologists and watershed managers from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, US Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and the National Marine Fisheries Service
For more information:
WSC makes the case for conserving Oregon's Salmon Anchor Habitats.
In testimony before the Oregon Board of Forestry, Wild Salmon Center staff made the case for keeping Wild Salmon Anchor Habitat areas in northwest Oregon's state forests. Salmon Anchor Habitat Areas on state lands are due to expire in 2011, leaving wild salmon strongholds vulnerable to increased logging and road building.
Using data gathered in collaboration with the Oregon Department of Forestry and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Wild Salmon Center staff presented GIS mapping data documenting current watershed conditions and wild salmon populations in the Tillamook and Clatsop State Forests.
The following recommendations were made:
- Do not allow the current state Salmon Anchor Habitat Area designations to expire
- Adopt a 20-year planning horizon for wild salmon species
- Add specific key watersheds to the Salmon Anchor Habitat system
- Revisit riparian protection strategies and logging guidelines to ensure protection of salmon habitat while allowing for multiple uses
Center in Sakhalin will train future conservation scientists.
On September 29, 2008, an innovative educational science center was officially opened at Sakhalin State University. The center was created by the Sakhalin Salmon Initiative Center with support and financial assistance from the Wild Salmon Center and Sakhalin Energy.
The center is outfitted with the newest technology and computer programs, and will offer advanced scientific training to school biology teachers and students. The center will train the region's future specialists in resource conservation and nature preservation. It will also train local elementary and high-school school teachers in environmental education methodologies.
A special guest at the opening was Aleksandr Khoroshavin, the governor of Sakhalin Oblast, who spoke about the innovative economic future of the region. WSC's Nicole Portley attended the event, accompanied by Lucinda Longo, a technology teacher from Mapleton High School, Oregon, and Jim Martin, co-founder of Oregon Trout's Salmon Watch education program.
"Specialists who have been trained at our new center will be sought after in any industry," said Boris Misikov, the President of SSU. Prior to the ceremonial opening of the center, Martin and Longo, along with Zsuzsanna Nemeth from Portland Public Schools, led a Salmon Watch-focused education seminar on Sakhalin on September 23-26. Twenty Sakhalin teachers participated. The teachers were instructed in science inquiry teaching methods, field and classroom Salmon Watch curriculum and explored ways to integrate technology (computer programs) with the Salmon Watch program. Future trainings will be held at the new education center.
The educational science center is one of several educational projects of the Sakhalin Salmon Initiative, which plans on opening a salmon park in the region as well.
Surviving my internship-without getting eaten by brown bears!
Brett Leibowitz is a high school senior from Las Vegas who interned for the summer with scientists at the Kol Biostation in Kamchatka, Russia.
My family and I have been salmon fishing in Alaska virtually every summer that I can remember and I have always loved our experiences. Two years ago, I read an article in the New York Times about the Wild Salmon Center. This year, through the fine work of Roman Kultajev (Wild Salmon Center), and Sergei Tikhonov (Wild Fishes and Biodiversity Foundation, Petropavlovsk, Kamchatka, Russia), I was able to become a researcher at the Kol Biostation, as a seventeen year old.
Kamchatka is a remote peninsula, the size of California, jutting off of Siberia, and produces one-quarter of the entire world's wild salmon. The Kol Biostation is an hour and a half helicopter ride from the nearest Siberian airport and over twenty time zones away from my home in Las Vegas.
Three weeks before I was set to leave, two scientists in Kamchatka, unrelated to our organization, were eaten by bears. Three days before I left, Russia and Georgia were in a military conflict. My connecting flight from Phoenix to Anchorage was cancelled due to a volcanic eruption in the Aleutian Islands, with the resultant ash inhibiting the landing of planes.
My helicopter ride to the Biostation was also very interesting. I was sitting in a very large helicopter, which was filled with drums of fuel. The scenery was amazing. I believe that this is what Alaska looked like one hundred years ago. At the Biostation, there was an amazing cook, two maintenance workers, four Russian scientists and me. Everyone was so helpful and friendly.
We would take the boat out most days and spend the entire day either taking measurements on the fish that we netted or going through clumps of mud to obtain specimens of different insects and invertebrates. One day, we found a large area of wild berries that we picked and the cook made these into drinks and other delectable dishes.
At the end of my stay, I participated in my favorite part of the journey, exchanging gifts. I had heard that exchanging presents was a Russian tradition and prepared a suitcase full of Las Vegas T-shirts, hats and other presents to give out. This experience was by far the most amazing adventure in my life and I hope to return soon to continue my work there, as well as continue to be associated with the superb work of the Wild Salmon Center.
Wild Salmon Center owes a huge debt to its interns and we want to thank Brett for sharing his stories and photos with us.Please support our work.