Dead fish swimming
Whenever a new scientific study on fishing is released, I'm generally torn between elation that people are studying fishing and concern that they are only getting part of the picture and/or are being paid by some private group to prove a political point.
And so it was today when I read the headline "Virus may have killed Fraser River sockeye" in the Vancouver Sun.
I would love to hear that we are closer to some answer as to why the Fraser River sockeye has been in decline for years, only to surprise us all with a 2010 return of 30 million.
The fact that no one was able to predict the biggest run in almost a century tells me that we have essentially no idea what's going on out there. (And let's not forget another recent study showing that roughly 75 percent of the world's marine species are still unknown to humans.)
And yet, the first item on the list as to why the sockeye is struggling is, drumroll please, "overfishing."
That's right folks, between climate change, farmed salmon sea lice infestations, pollution and fishing, we have an obvious primary culprit.
Or rather, I suspect, we have a culprit that's friendly to science because it's easy to track with landings. The other factors are all notoriously difficult to pin down.
Unfortunately, according to the article, the funding to continue studying this virus is not guaranteed. Which means a deadly salmon disease is likely to land at the bottom of our list of menaces to the Fraser River sockeye.
The problem, according to popular opinion, is still overfishing — with a twist of virus.
Thank you for your time.
Editor in Chief, National Fisherman