Friday, November 10, 2017

'Scientists Shocked' As Fisheries Collapse Along West Coast, Record Low Numbers Of Fish




“Scientists shocked” as fisheries collapse along West Coast — “It’s the worst we’ve seen… they’re starving” — Death rates skyrocket, no babies being born



Seattle Times, Nov 7, 2017 (emphasis added): Gulf of Alaska cod populations appear to have nose-dived, a collapse fishery scientists believe is linked to warm water… “They get weak and die or get eaten by something else,” said [NOAA’s Steve Barbeaux]… The 2017 trawl net survey found the lowest numbers of cod on record… Scientists are trying to unravel what happened… a lot of the cod hatched in 2012 appeared to survive… But by 2017, those fish were largely gone for the surveys, which also found scant evidence of fish born in subsequent years… Many of the cod that have come on board trawlers are long skinny fish… according to Brent Paine, executive director off United Catcher Boats… “This is a big deal,” Paine said. “We just don’t see these (cod) year classes disappear from one year to the next”…


KBBI, Nov 6, 2017: Cod numbers in the Gulf of Alaska fall dramatically — The North Pacific Fishery Management Council… received some shocking news last month… NOAA surveys show that cod were the skinniest on record in 2015, but fish didn’t just get smaller. Natural mortality rates also skyrocketed for some important age classes of cod… This isn’t the first time cod stocks have taken dive in the Gulf… but Barbeaux said this time is different. “The difference between then and now is we don’t see any recruitment coming in”…


Seafood Source, Oct 17, 2017: Gulf of Alaska cod stocks at all-time lows — Pacific cod numbers in the Gulf of Alaska are at all-time lows, according to early looks at data collected from the 2017 summer survey… Biologists survey Alaska cod every other summer, and this year’s Gulf of Alaska count represents… an 83 percent drop from 2015… “If you look at the condition of the fish during that time period, it’s the worst we’ve seen; condition meaning their lowest weight at length for those particular year classes. It means they were starving…” Barbeaux said…

Vancouver Sun, Nov 2, 2017: Salmon returns just keep getting worse on the Fraser River… There was a one-in-10 chance that the pink returns would be as low as 4.4 million, but the results were even worse. “It was much less, obviously much poorer than expected,” Mike Lapointe, chief biologist with the Pacific Salmon Commission, said… The estimated fry-to-adult survival rate of 1.6 per cent this year is half the average of 3.2 per cent… The dismal pink returns are in line with previously reported poor sockeye returns… He said no one really knows why ocean survival has been so poor… “All we know is they didn’t come back“…
KTVZ, Nov 1, 2017: Scientists shocked: Where did ocean salmon go?… Juvenile salmon, observed in near-normal numbers in the Columbia River estuary, seemed to disappear in the ocean, NOAA Fisheries scientist Brian Burke reported… NOAA researchers found almost no juvenile salmon… Catches of smelt, herring, and anchovy, forage fish for birds and other species, also were also low. “Chinook and coho just weren’t there,” Burke said… a researcher in Alaska who normally catches juvenile Columbia River spring Chinook and coho smolts in the summer caught none this year, NOAA salmon researcher Lauri Weitcamp said…








David Huff, NOAA Fisheries, Oct 9, 2017: “We were really worrying if there was something wrong with our equipment… We have never hauled that net through the water looking for salmon or forage fish and not gotten a single salmon. Three times we pulled that net up, and there was not a thing in it. We looked at each other, like, ‘this is really different than anything we have ever seen.’ It was alarming.”

Brian Burke, NOAA Fisheries, Oct 9, 2017: “Every year is different. But this year popped out as being really different… Not just a bunch of normal metrics that point to a bad ocean year, but the presence of these things we have never seen before, really big changes in the ecosystem. Something really big has shifted here.”

Daily Astorian, Sep 4, 2017: Warning signs for salmon… The numbers of young salmon caught off the Oregon and Washington state coasts during an annual federal survey cruise this June were among the lowest recorded in the past 20 years. In fact, numbers were low across nearly all the species researchers regularly catch or observe — from birds like the common murre to forage fish like anchovies and smelt… Brian Burke [with NOAA said,] “it was clear that there were not many fish out there.”… Burke said their understanding of why so many juveniles apparently died could shift.

NOAA, Sep 2017: Ocean conditions for salmon headed to sea this year are very poor, according to recent NOAA Fisheries research surveys… NOAA Fisheries research surveys off the Pacific Northwest this year turned up among the fewest juvenile salmon of any of the last 20 years, an indication that many of the young fish that migrated to the ocean did not survive… Catches of other species such as smelt, herring, and anchovy were also low… This year researchers noted that chlorophyll, which is a barometer of the plankton that helps sustain higher trophic levels, was at its lowest levels in 20 years…




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