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Conservation and Politics Need Salmon Closure

NEW YORK - Although local fishermen and coastal economies will be hit hard by the decision by federal government to close down commercial salmon fishing from the California coast to north-central Oregon it is a necessary move.

Salmon stocks need to recover, says an article in the New York Times. But the action may carry even more weight if it shocks Congress into a serious investigation of the West Coast salmon crisis, exposes the politically driven policies of the Bush administration and persuades a new president that wild salmon populations need rebuilding because the economies depend on them.

Chinook salmon runs in the Sacramento River in California’s Central Valley have collapsed. The numbers of salmon returning to spawn, which had held steady at about 475,000 for several years, dropped to 90,000 last year and were expected to be half that this year.

Two factors are suspected. The federal government yielded to the demands of big agricultural interests and diverted so much of the Sacramento’s normal river flow to farmers that many baby salmon — who need free-flowing water to push them downstream — could not make it to the ocean. Scientists also believe that abnormalities in ocean temperatures, possibly related to global warming, could have deprived the fish who managed to get downstream of their food supply.

View the New York Times story by clicking here.