Saturday, March 15, 2008

Salmon Disaster-Water for Veggies

Almost 4 years ago myself and a few friends drove 120 miles north of the Bay Area to protest the massive diversion of water from historic salmon runs on the West coast.

At the time California was in the middle of a continuing drought, and the best minds out there were locked in an epic battle about water rights. The agricultural community demanded that water be released to them to save crops. The eco community knew that dropping water levels would raise the water temps for spawning salmon, thus cutting off oxygen, and allowing parasites to run rampant decimating the runs.

Sadly, the eco community lost this battle and as we drove up to the Trinity and Eel rivers we could smell the dying, dead and rotting salmon that lined the banks from miles away. These last great runs of spawners were absolutely decimated that summer, never having had a chance to pass the "biological torch" on to the next generation.

Today, due to short sighted politicians and poor planning we are looking at a near total failure of the salmon runs in both California and Oregon. The reasons for this failure range from ocean up wellings to water diversions and habitat loss. On look at those rivers a few years ago and we knew this was the beginning of the end. If you cut a gene pool and population down by 40-60%- you open that population up to all manner of natural disasters that they cannot recover from.

This was preventable, and no one knows when these salmon will come back...if ever.

There's no protest email to sign, or quick action to take to save the salmon this time. The damage is done, and by the looks of things it is on an ecological scale that will forever change "water politics" on the West coast.

The Feds are holding hearings-now the crises is real-and you can comment if you like here.

Patric Douglas CEO

Record Shark Taken-Eco Debate

Seems as if the good folks in Brisbane, Australia have their heads on right. Last week a record sized Bull shark was taken as part of a Muddy Water sportfishing competition.

Obviously from the comment blowback, even though these animals have been attributed to several deaths in the area, Australians like their underwater predators live, healthy, and living to see another day.

We would have to agree.

A RECORD-SIZED shark taken in a Brisbane River fishing competition has started a war of words over whether such an animal should be killed for sport.

Brisbane River Classic fishing competitor Terry Hessey caught the 2.9m bull shark at the mouth of the river in December and pictures posted on the internet have since fired up debate.Mr Hessey did not want to comment on the issue but fishing competition organiser Angus Gorrie said the angler usually released fish unharmed.

"Inevitably, there are some fatalities but about four in five sharks are released," he said.

Mr Gorrie said he believed the shark was the largest caught in the river. It was weighed but the scales registered to only 200kg.

Courier-Mail fishing columnist Dave Downie said it probably weighed 250kg to 300kg and was the largest he had seen. "I don't agree with something like that being killed for no reason. I'd rather see catch and release," Mr Downie said.

University of Queensland researcher Craig Franklin said it was wrong to take an animal merely for the thrill of a kill. Bull sharks were at the top of the food chain and their removal risked triggering a trickle-down effect which could upset the balance of species.

Mr Gorrie said he understood there was a trophy element to Mr Hessey's kill but most smaller bull sharks were taken for eating just as people ate bream or whiting.

His competition would in future cater for photographic entries so animals did not have to be killed and weighed.

CSIRO researcher Richard Pillans said the shark was female, 25 to 30 years old and appeared ready to give birth.

"It's a shame. An animal of that age is extremely important," he said.

"You've got a far greater chance of being killed in your car than by one of these."

The University of Florida international shark attack file recorded just four deaths from sharks world-wide in 2006.

Last year, 1616 Australians died in car accidents.

Mr Gorrie agreed, saying the shark's reputation was exaggerated as there were relatively few incidents. They were caught in summer but rarely seen in cooler months because they tended not to feed then.

Professor Franklin said the risk of attack was greatly lessened simply by not swimming in estuaries at dawn or dusk especially in summer.

"It's fantastic that Brisbane has a shark like that in its river," he said. "Sharks don't go out to target humans. We've got to learn to live with species like that."

Dr Pillans said the river had a population of 2000 to 5000 juveniles but the number of adults was unclear. In the US 95 per cent of bull sharks had been wiped out.

They gave birth to six to 13 pups at the mouth of the river after which the young swam to the upper reaches around College's Crossing.

Professor Franklin said bull sharks were one of the world's more unusual marine species in that they could live either in fresh or salt water.They were more often seen than other sharks simply because many cities were built on waterways.