1. Understanding the regulatory framework for managing salmon
Five major environmental or regulatory laws that impact salmon
Fishery Conservation and Management Act of 1976. According to Conservation Library, (2010) it empowers regional fishery management councils to prepare plans for the conservation and management of each federally managed fisheries in the exclusive economic zone and thus establish standard habitat conservation measures aimed at conservation anadromous fish such as salmon. It seeks to identify these habitats and delineate them so to protect habitats for all anadromous fish. The act requires that before the federal agencies that involve in any activities that might have adverse impacts on the habitats for anadromous fish, they have to consult with the National Marine Fisheries Service in order to carry out environmental impact assessment of the project so that the NMFS gives its recommendations.
Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act of 1974 requires that the federal regulatory and construction agencies should undertake environmental impact assessment on fish and wildlife resources before project planning is done on any water related activities or before making applications for federal permits and licenses thus they must consult with state and federal fish and wildlife agencies before doing this (Conservation Library, 2010). This act ensures that environmental impact assessment is done whenever any project in water or that would affect life in water so that appropriate mitigation measures are put in place or the project cancelled.
Federal Water Pollution Control Act Amendments of 1972 requires that any industry discharging its wastes into water has to acquire permit from the Environmental Protection Agency. Thus the agency must check the measures put in place by the industry to treat its effluents before issuing any permit (Conservation Library, 2010). This act ensures that fish or any other living organism in water is not affected by the pollutants from industries.
Anadromous and Great Lakes Fisheries Conservation Act of 1965 gives the secretaries of the Interior and Commerce authority to establish terms and conditions that ensure permanent protection of estuarine areas (Conservation, 2004). According to (Resource Laws, 2010) it also gives him or her authority to enter into cost sharing agreements with the states and other non-federal interests in conservation, development and enhancement of the nation’s anadromous fish. This act protects and conserve estuaries where most fish bread or grow and develop since most salmon fish tend to live at estuaries in the oceans and any interference with such features might greatly affect the production fish since it would interfere with the fish habitat.
National Environmental Policy Act of 1969. According to Digest of Federal Resource Laws of Interest to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, (2010) this law requires that federal agencies environmental impact assessment on activities that affect the quality of human environment in order to analyze the short term gains of the activity would have on the long term productivity of the environment. In doing this they have to apply an interdisciplinary approach in decision making on matters affecting the environment. Considerations on both the technical and economic impacts are also done. Since the human environment includes all the living things around him, this act protects the anadromous fish like the salmon fish. Any activity that has an adverse effect on water has to be analyzed in its totality and appropriate action taken before being carried out. Agencies and organizations involved in managing and restoring our salmon
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife as a state agency aims at improving the protection of the endangered salmon fish by identifying wild roaming salmon fish and returning them back to water. It involves communities its programs and seeks to identify fish habitat and to construct fish hatcheries. It is also involved in removing barriers to fish migration by removing invasive plants along rivers, wetlands and estuaries; restoring wetlands and estuaries; and restoring and protecting fish habitat including stream habitat which is very important to salmon fish. This agency therefore plays a major role in salmon migration, spawning and incubation of its eggs. (Resource Laws, 2010).
Yuba River Fish Passage Feasibility, according to Edmondson, (2008), is an organization which was established with an aim protecting and conserving the anadromous fish in Yuba River under the Fishery Conservation and Management Act. It is contracted to conserve and manage the essential fish habitats in the Yuba River above Englebright Dam, Central Valley spring-run Chinook and California Central Valley steelhead. It carries out studies and does analyses and evaluation on options for restoring access to spawning and rearing; and sustainable habitat for the anadromous fish. This would include identifying potential suitable habitats and routes for fish passage and mechanisms to support movements of fish upstream and downstream during their migration. This organization there focuses on how best to enable migration of the anadromous fish such salmon from the ocean to stream and from the sea to ocean.
2010 10 “Waters to Watch, according to Resource Laws, (2010), is an organization which seeks to conserve aquatic life through partnerships. It includes projects in; Bobs Creek, Pennsylvania; Diamond Lake, Iowa; Fairbanks and Soda Springs, Nevada; Georgetown Creek, Idaho; Green River Basin, Colorado, Utah; Wyoming Koktuli River, Alaska; Lake Vermilion, Minnesota; Mackeys Creek, Mississippi; Wasilla Creek, Alaska; West Branch; and Machias River, Maine. The project seeks to improve the current conditions rivers, streams, lakes and watersheds by co-ordinating the conservation efforts in these various regions. This organization aims at improving the habit for fish including the anadromous fish which is ever migrating in various maters.
The Salmon River Restoration Council (SRRC), according to Harding, (2008) is an organization that was established in 1992 to protect and conserve Salmon River watershed in California by conserving its ecosystem particularly the anadromous fish such as the salmon fish. It involves the local community in its programs aimed at conservation of the ecosystem so as to achieve a sustainable economy.
National Marine Fisheries Service which is a state agency was established to conserve and manage living marine resources in USA. According to Conservation Library, (2010), its function is to oversee and undertake conservation of marine ecosystem thus promoting healthy marine ecosystem within the United States’ Exclusive Economic Zone which extends to about three hundred and seventy kilometers from the coastline. The agency is mandated to endangered marine species like wild salmon, whales and sea turtles.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is a state organization mandated to protect valuable fish and wildlife resources along the Gulf coast. It monitors activities that may have negative impacts on marine ecosystem and involves geological survey it involves deep water manning to determine impacts of certain occurrences as well as mitigating the impacts of such hazards on marine life. It does impact assessment and give recommendations on the anticipated occurrence. (US Fish and Wildlife Service, 2010)
The Environmental Protection Agency which established the Federal Clean Water Act aims at controlling water pollution setting standards to be met by industries and other organizations discharging effluents into water resources. It therefore protects wetlands and aquatic habitat in general throughout the USA and its waters. These provisions put by this agency aims at restoring development of fish by improving the habitat for fish by fully implementing the Federal Clean Water Act. (Whatcom Salmon Recovery, 2003).
Washington Department of Ecology in Washington aims at protecting and preserving Washington’s environment. This agency plays a role in the health of salmon fish by involving in planning watershed utilization, allocation of water rights and conserving the quality of water within Washington. (Department of Ecology state of Washington, n. date). The Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association, according to Whatcom Salmon Recovery, (2003) is an organization which seeks to return naturally spawning salmon to streams in Whatcom County through restoration and monitoring. They also engage in salmon production by placing woody debris habitat structures in streams. The organization strives to achieve all these through community education. The Maine Atlantic Salmon Commission is the only agency that given the authority and responsibility to manage the Atlantic salmon fishery in USA (Conservation Library, 2010). It has the responsibility of protecting, conserving and restoring salmon habitat in inland waters and ocean waters.
Salmon management and conservation is not only a concern to the government but a concern to individuals, communities, corporates and non-governmental organizations. Conservation related activities such as providing financial donations to agencies committed to conservations the salmon fish; conducting research activities on salmon’s habitat; providing education to communities living around the water resources and the general public by writing articles and books on salmon fish; and conservation, protection, restoration and management activities towards the salmon fish.
2. History and economics of salmon
In 1770s and below America was mainly populated by the Indians and they depended on salmon fish, mainly for food. Euro-Americans began coming to the Pacific Northwest in 1770s. In 1880s, Lewis recognized the salmon fish and wrote descriptive detail about it long before it was given a taxonomic name. The migration of the Euro-Americans into the Pacific Northwest greatly influenced the native’s culture and perception towards the exploitation of natural resources, salmon fish included.
Most of these immigrants became farmers. According to National Academies of Sciences (1996), conflicts arose between American Indian ways and non Indian ways and therefore to resolve this, treaties were signed beginning 1854 between the Euro-Americans and the Indian tribes recognizing their land ownership, sovereignty and rules for fishing and hunting. These treaties marked the beginning of radical changes in salmon’s history. There was a transition from ownership salmon landscapes ownership to a more communal ownership which was the beginning modern ways of harvesting, marketing, engineering and conservation. Intervention and mitigation measures were now put in place for sustainable development. These treaties have been included in the US Supreme Court and have created a solution to contemporary fishing by the Indian tribes. The Bellion decision of 1969 and Boldt Decision of 1974 enabled the signatory tribes a right to access the salmon fish (National Academies of Sciences, 1996).
Continued exploitation of natural resources by Euro-Americans led to the decline of the beaver which was very important for the coastal streams as well as the arid regions more importantly provided a rearing habitat for salmon fish (National Academies of Sciences, 1996). The first salmon cannery was established in 1864 along the Sacramento River in Northern California along the west coast. The cannery was shut down in 1886 and transferred along Colombia River due to sediments which were caused hydraulic mining. From then, many canneries were established and the canneries grew to forty by early1990s. Most of these salmon fish which were harvested to be taken to the canneries were Chinook salmon.
However, by 1870s, Chinook salmon catch form the rivers began to steadily decline and so they had to harvest other species of salmon fish which included, Coho, Sockeye and Steelhead salmon (National Academies of Sciences, 1996). Due continued decline in the fish population, these canneries had to close down and the last to close down along River Colombia was in 1975. The fish catch had significantly dropped form forty three million in 1880s to about two and a half million in 1990s. This was majorly attributed by high inland and ocean fishing, dam constructions along the rivers and modification fresh water streams such as irrigation projects which greatly affected spawning and rearing habitats for the salmon fish (National Academies of Sciences, 1996).
These concerns about over fishing and salmon depletion led to the construction of salmon breeding station along Clackamas River in 1877 by the Oregon and Washington Fish Propagation Company. It was later shut down in 1888 because it could not be sustained. This led to construction of hatcheries in 1890s and has greatly increased in numbers to date. It was noted that salmon population did not have any significant increase whenever fish were released from the hatcheries. Thus, between 1930s and 1950s many hatcheries were closed down due to their low returns and problems of diseases and instead this period witnessed an increase in the construction of dams until 1970s. The negative impacts of the dams on the upstream of rivers made most of the salmon fish to migrate to the lower streams of the river (National Academies of Sciences, 1996). In 1960s pasteurized and formulated feeds were invented and this became a solution to diseases caused by artificial propagation thus more hatcheries were built. Today hatchery facilities are widely distributed throughout the Pacific Northwest (National Academies of Sciences, 1996).
The effects of livestock grazing in the rangelands have also had a massive impact on the production of salmon fish. Most of plants that are important for maintaining the wetlands have been seriously reduced and besides, many tanks and dams are constructed along the fresh water streams to provide drinking water for livestock. Overexploitation of trees by humans through lumbering has also contributed to this. The first sawmill to be constructed was in 1827 in Vancouver, Washington. This has destroyed the water catchment areas for most streams.
Decline in salmon population is linked to among many factors, global climatic change and other human activities. According to Stanford University (2003, September 23), there has been a decline in salmon fish catch of about 80% between 1970 and 2000. This has mainly been attributed by the global climatic change. It states that salmon fish farm production has greatly improved since the 1980s and has a high market share world wide while the market share for wild-caught salmon from Alaska, British Columbia and Washington has been declining.