Wild Salmon Are Going Extinct You Can Help Change That For decades, salmon populations in the Northwest have been on the decline, largely in part to conditions created by four dams on the lower Snake River.
Another thing we wondered was: how many Pacific salmon have gone extinct?
Scientists conservatively estimate that well over one-quarter of native Pacific salmon populations spawning in rivers and lakes from California to southern British Columbia have gone extinct.
The upper Snake River watershed in Idaho is also now devoid of salmon, having lost its 51 populations of sockeye, steelhead and chinook. Farther south, California’s Central Valley is missing 57 percent of its original Pacific salmon populations including all coho, chum and pink, most of the chinook and half of the steelhead.
Coho salmon in the lower Columbia River may already be extinct. Salmon are not endangered worldwide. For example, most populations in Alaska are healthy. Some populations in the Pacific Northwest are much healthier than others.
Certain populations of sockeye salmon, coho salmon, chinook salmon, and Atlantic salmon are listed as endangered. Sockeye salmon from the Snake River system are probably the most endangered salmon. Coho salmon in the lower Columbia River may already be extinct.
Will King Salmon’s value save it or dooms it to extinction?
In the end, the king salmon’s value above all other fish might be what either saves it or dooms it to extinction. This past summer, along the Yukon River, fishermen were getting $5.50 per pound for kings from buyers. Compare that with chum salmon, which sold for 60 cents a pound or silver salmon at $1 a pound.
This begs the inquiry “Why are king salmon declining?”
Overfishing is another source of death that can contribute to the decline of salmon. The weather affects the amount of food that is available to salmon in the ocean. Pollution and disease have also contributed to population declines.
In 2015, abnormally high river water temperatures in Oregon triggered a die-off of threatened chinooks. In 2017, the Pacific Fishery and Management Council closed 200 miles of the West Coast to ocean salmon fishing to protect a record-low run of Klamath River chinook.
Are dams to blame for the Salmon decline?
Most people believes Dams are the root cause of the Salmon Decline. They cite the following data as evidence: This graph shows an apparent decline of the pounds of fish that have been caught (harvested) in the Columbia river.
What is the best indicator of salmon decline in North America?
Graph shows total salmon catch off the coast of North America (including Alaska). Decline of In-River catches which is frequently used as the “best” indicator for overall salmon decline in the Columbia River System: Implication is that increases in ocean catch are directly responsible for decreases of in-river catches also shown.