Rob Walton (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries Service) speaks at State of the Salmon conference.
State of the Salmon 2009
Scientists and policy makers from around the globe exchange data and views on salmon conservation
In February 2009, scientists and policy makers from around the globe gathered in Vancouver, British Columbia to hear from colleagues and leaders about the latest challenges and opportunities for wild salmon conservation across six nations bordering the Pacific Rim.
Keynote speakers, including conservationist David Suzuki, ecologist Buzz Holling, and former Canadian cabinet minister David Anderson, challenged future thinking about salmon—and humans—in light of impending climate change, underscored by an urgent need for international cooperation.
Keynote speaker David Suzuki.
"We need to manage ourselves, not the salmon" stated David Suzuki. "A system perspective is needed that centers on ecosystems and salmon rather than on politics and economics."
A highlight of the conference was the presentation of Wild Salmon Conservation Goals and Principles to guide wild salmon conservation across the Pacific Rim. Jack Williams with Trout Unlimited presented the principles to the international audience, and numerous speakers discussed how they are applying conservation principles on the ground in Japan, Russia, Alaska, British Columbia and the Pacific Northwest.
The conference brought the future into focus on its final day with the presentation of a conservation vision for wild salmon. U.S. Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station Scientist (and visiting Wild Salmon Center Scientist) Dr. Gordon Reeves presented the process for identifying an international salmon stronghold network for the entire range of wild Pacific salmon.
The stronghold network strategy emphasizes the conservation of the healthiest salmon ecosystems or "salmon strongholds" across the North Pacific as an important complement to other essential, ongoing conservation efforts.
Conference attendees left with hope and enthusiasm that such a global network of salmon strongholds could indeed be established. Wild Salmon Center President Guido Rahr pledged that the Center would lead an international group of scientists and fish managers to accomplish the next steps toward identifying and creating such a network.
"The goal of establishing an international network of wild salmon strongholds is within our reach," said Rahr. "As we adjourn this conference, we must resolve to move forward together to make this goal a reality."
State of the Salmon Conservation Goals and Principles
State of the Salmon has created an evolving "Goals and Principles for Wild Salmon Conservation" document as a living guide to help define the stewardship requirements for thriving wild salmon.
Below are the three draft goals for wild salmon conservation. Each goal has seven to ten specific principles of conservation articulated to achieve the given conservation goal. View the conservation principles needed to achieve each conservation goal.
Draft Conservation Goals for Wild Salmon
- Goal One: Manage wild salmon populations for abundance, diversity, and the maintenance of ecosystem health.
- Goal Two: Protect and restore enough habitat to maintain healthy wild salmon stocks and ecosystem processes.
- Goal Three: Build institutions, markets, and human communities that support wild salmon and their ecosystems over time.
These goals and principles point the way to a set of conservation measures and consistent performance benchmarks that guide conservation of wild salmon across their entire range. State of the Salmon will refine and elaborate on these goals and principles as they are informed by new fishery and conservation science, as well as feedback from users.
Please take a few moments to answer a brief online questionnaire before May 22, 2009. A summary of the results will be published in a future issue of the American Fisheries Society publication, Fisheries.
Japanese taimen now protected under the "Rare Species Conservation Act".
Japanese Taimen Receive New Conservation Status
The Hokkaido government has issued a new conservation rule to protect sea run taimen in Hokkaido, Japan. Under this new regulation, the Hokkaido government will apply the “Rare Species Conservation Act” to taimen (previously only applied to mammals and birds) and ban all sport fishing on rivers in Hokkaido with highly threatened sub-populations of taimen, including the Shirebetsu and Shari Rivers. Rivers with healthy populations, such as the Sarufutsu, will continue to rely on voluntary catch and release regulations.
The government will also petition the Construction, Forestry and Defense Ministries to avoid river work construction projects near taimen spawning grounds and migration corridors. Together with the IUCN Salmonid Specialist Group and our partners in Japan (including NGO partner Sarufutsu Itou no Kai), Wild Salmon Center is working to conserve these rare and special species and the river ecosystems that support them.
Herb Jones outside his ranch.
Notes from the Field: John Day, Oregon
Herb Jones: A Rancher with a Commitment to Conservation
Landowners in Oregon’s John Day Basin play a crucial role in protecting and enhancing salmonid habitat in the John Day River and its tributaries. One such landowner is Herb Jones, who owns and operates a 1,689 acre cattle ranch in the Lower John Day Basin. Mr. Jones’ property is located along a two mile stretch of Mountain Creek, a critical salmonid spawning tributary that stretches 20 miles off of Rock Creek, another tributary of the mainstem John Day River in Wheeler County.
Salmonid habitat along Mountain Creek, a tributary of the John Day River.
When Mr. Jones purchased his ranch in 1999 it was in bankruptcy, and in poor condition. The previous landowner had severely mismanaged the fields and the sensitive Mountain Creek riparian area, even though it had been fenced off by Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) in 1994. Herb was eager to “turn the place around.”
“I can’t own a piece of property without fixing it up – I have to make it better,” said Herb.
In the past ten years he has proven this stewardship ethic by keeping livestock off of Mountain Creek, planting extensive riparian vegetation, enrolling in the National Resource Conservation Service’s Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program, and enlisting ODFW to install a fish ladder and screen in the creek to promote salmonid passage and enable fish-friendly irrigation.
These impressive conservation efforts have resulted in a dramatic recovery. ODFW reports increasingly high densities of juvenile steelhead along Herb’s stretch of Mountain Creek; they counted seven steelhead in 1994, 74 in 1999, and 130 in 2006! The healthy state of Mountain Creek on Herb’s property has even inspired his neighbors to initiate similar conservation efforts.
Although he has already done much to restore his once degraded property, Herb will continue pairing his conservation efforts with cattle ranching as long as he can. He is currently collaborating with the local Wheeler County Soil and Water Conservation District, and conservation partners such as Wild Salmon Center to further enhance his streambanks and improve fish habitat.
Dmitry Pavlov, one of the recipients of the Lomonosov Award of the first degree.
Salmon ecology research receives prestigious Moscow State University award
Academician Dmitry S. Pavlov, a Wild Salmon Center board member and Russian partner, has been honored with the 2008 Lomonosov Award for his research on salmon life strategies and mechanisms for determining intraspecies diversity of wild salmon. Dr. Pavlov is the Head of the Ichthyology Department at Moscow State University (MSU).
The Lomonosov Award is a very prestigious honor in Russia. Twenty-six academic departments submit their work to an independent commission of experts for review. Also honored with Dr. Pavlov were Ksenia Savvaitova and Kiril Kuzishchin, who also partner with Wild Salmon Center in conducting salmon research in Kamchatka, Russia.
Dr. Pavlov has conducted multiple research projects at biostations in Kamchatka. Together with MSU and University of Montana Flathead Lake Biological Station, WSC is conducting ongoing research on salmonid ecology, which will inform conservation and management approaches for rivers throughout the Pacific Rim.
Landslides damaged large sections of the railroad along the Salmonberry River.
Salmonberry Steelhead Get Reprieve
Tillamook Railroad won't rebuild over Oregon steelhead stronghold.
In what amounts to a victory for wild steelhead on Oregon’s Salmonberry River, the Port of Tillamook Bay announced it will not rebuild a critical section of its railroad damaged by a December 2007 storm.
In 1996, floods severely damaged the railroad line that runs along the bank of the Salmonberry River, resulting in landslides and erosion that damaged steelhead habitat in the river. The railroad line was rebuilt, costing millions in taxpayer dollars. Then, in December 2007, the railroad line was again severely damaged by coastal storms. Landslides covered or damaged sections of the railroad, and many places along the embankment were cut away by the flood’s erosive forces. Following the flood, Wild Salmon Center sent a report to Gov. Kulongoski and state fishery managers documenting the harm to salmon and steelhead habitat. Our recommendations included retirement and restoration of the railroad line.
The Salmonberry is known for its impressive run of wild winter steelhead. Due to the proximity of the railroad to the river, materials used to shore up the embankment fall into the river and damage spawning habitat. The river naturally experiences times of high river flow, and frequent storms and heavy rainfall only serve to multiply the erosion and run-off from the railroad. Now that the railroad will not be rebuilt, a decommissioning and restoration plan can begin.