TU Applauds American Fisheries Society for Sound Conclusions on Snake River Salmon
11/30/2000 — — Contact:
Jeff Curtis, Western Conservation Director, Trout Unlimited: (503) 827-5700; (503) 351-2492
Alan Moore, Western Communications Coordinator, Trout Unlimited: (503) 827-5700
“As a large and diverse group of concerned scientists, we are clear on this: if the public wants these populations restored, restoration actions must include breaching–as well as significant action in habitat, hatchery, and harvest problems. Anyone still hoping that further minor tinkering will restore these dwindling populations is not listening to the evidence.” –AFS Editorial (Oregon, Idaho chapters)
November 30, 2000, Portland, OreTrout Unlimited today applauded the Oregon and Idaho chapters of the American Fisheries Society (AFS) for voicing their strong disagreement with recent press accounts implying scientific consensus that wild Snake River salmon recovery is possible through means other than removing the four lower Snake dams. Their op-editorial, “Dam breaching issue is far from over for scientists,” appeared today in the Oregonian newspaper.
“Recent Oregonian pieces might lead readers to believe Snake River salmon can be restored with only ‘modest’ measures, without breaching the lower Snake River dams,” states the editorial. “Professional fishery biologists have reached a different conclusion.”
Such “modest” measures were outlined in a recent article published by a small group of scientists working for the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) in Seattle. That group, led by Dr. Peter Kareiva, claims that improvements in salmon habitat and reforms in hatchery and harvest practices will be sufficient to save wild Snake River salmon t”om extinction. It claims that removing the four lower Snake dams is unnecessary.
In its response, the AFS chapters state clearly they agree that improvements in habitat, hatcheries and harvest are in fact necessary components in recovering wild salmon to fishable levels. It does, however, take strong exception with the claim of Kareiva’s article that wild salmon recovery is attainable without dam removal.
Citing an AFS resolution, the response states ” . . . we do not maintain breaching is ‘a panacea’ (as others have portrayed). Breaching is necessary, but must be accompanied by action on habitat, harvest and hatcheries.” This statement agrees with a position long maintained by Trout Unlimited and other conservation groups, that a recovery plan must be comprehensive and must include dam removal.
The AFS chapters’ response bases its conclusions on “significant problems with the NMFS mathematical model and its application,” but also on what it terms “broader problems with the NMFS position.” Observed science simply does not support many of the assumptions upon which NMFS bases its conclusions, nor does it support many of the methods NMFS uses to reach those conclusions. It further disagrees with NMFS’ apparent basic goal of merely avoiding extinction for imperiled species; the AFS chapters maintain the goal should be sustainable, fishable populations that would meet treaty obligations.
“We applaud AFS’ Oregon and Idaho chapters for bringing attention to the only conclusion the overwhelming evidence supports, and that is a comprehensive recovery plan for wild Snake River stocks that includes dam removal as its cornerstone,” said Jeff Curtis of Trout Unlimited.
Trout Unlimited is the nation’s largest trout and salmon conservation group. Its mission is to conserve, protect and restore North American’s trout and salmon and their watersheds. TU has 125,000 members nationwide organized in 500 local chapters.