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The future of salmon is in jeopardy due to climate change

(Bloomberg) – At OBI Seafoods, a company that spans all of Alaska, there are all kinds of additional machinery that workers must master. At Whole Foods Market, new guidelines for purchasing salmon from wholesalers have been implemented. And at Ivar’s, a staple on the Seattle waterfront for eight decades, the chef is bringing back the scarce salmon that makes it into his kitchen. Behind all these changes is an alarming trend that has been consolidating for years: giant benches. of wild Pacific salmon that can turn the icy waters of southeast Alaska into a bright orange stain are shrinking, and those that survive are shrinking in size – shrinking is causing the biggest logistical problem right now. Many salmon are so small that they have disrupted OBI’s fish grading process and no longer meet Whole Foods purchasing specifications or Ivar’s culinary requirements. There, chef Craig Breeden takes photos of the fish next to his knife to illustrate its tiny size before returning it. “It’s very irritating when the supplier sends it to me and I see the size of these fillets,” he said. “In the last eight to 10 years, the size of salmon has started to get smaller and smaller.” ‘Critical moment’ These disturbances are, for now, more of a nuisance than a serious problem. But they almost certainly herald more costly changes in the future and, more importantly, they raise the alarm about the growing crisis in some key salmon populations that is being triggered, according to many scientists, by climate change and increased competition for food. Decades after the collapse of the Atlantic cod fisheries, concern is now growing among experts that wild Pacific salmon may face a similar fate. “Everything is out of control,” said Laurie Weitkamp, ​​a fisheries biologist with the Administration. National Oceanic and Atmospheric United States. “Salmon managers are realizing that climate change is affecting their populations and, in general, it is not favorable and will only get worse.” Salmon is so vital that scientists call it a “keystone” species, as animals like bears and eagles depend on it, and fish indirectly distribute nutrients in ecosystems, including forests. Salmon’s journey from freshwater streams to the ocean and back to breed and die makes them especially vulnerable to warming temperatures and a changing environment. Alaska salmon is getting smaller and smaller, in part because it is returning from the sea ​​at a younger age, although scientists don’t really know why. This trend is also spreading along the Pacific coast, from the US and Canada to Russia and Japan. “When the size and numbers decrease it is a harbinger of change that many scientists consider a red flag.” said Peter Westley of the University of Alaska Fairbanks, co-author of a study on salmon size published last year with the University of California Santa Cruz. Scientists examined four of the five species of Pacific salmon in Alaska. Chinook, hunted by fishermen and valued by restaurants, had the largest average decline, at 8%, compared to fish before 1990. All other species declined, with sockeye salmon registering the lowest decline, with 2.1%. The fastest changes have occurred in the last decade. Decreasing sizes of other species signaled the collapse of a fishery, including Atlantic cod from Canada three decades ago. In Europe and New England, the memory of rivers teeming with fish. Wild Atlantic salmon are all but forgotten due to overfishing, habitat loss and the construction of dams that blocked spawning grounds, said David Montgomery, whose 2003 book “King of Fish: The Thousand Year Run of Salmon” cautions that Pacific species could suffer the same fate. “Unfortunately, the book is still current.” Agriculture, mining and other interactions with humans have caused Pacific salmon to plummet in places like the Columbia-Snake River basin in the Pacific Northwest. In some parts of Canada and the US, they are in danger of extinction. Key populations in Alaska and the Canadian province of British Columbia are experiencing some of their worst years, and the Pacific Salmon Commission, which oversees the management of this fish in the U.S. and Canada, has noted that in the Fraser River of British Columbia has seen a record decline in the sockeye salmon population in three of the last five years, and that last season marked a new low.Original Note: Salmon Have Shrunk So Much That Whole Foods Redid Its GuidelinesFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source. © 2021 Bloomberg LP