Friday, November 25, 2005

Threatened species: fishermen AND salmon

Salmon in the Pacific Northwest have new champions in the form of federal judges. These judges don't buy the line that there is nothing that can be done to save the wild runs of salmon that go up the Klamath, the Columbia and other rivers. They have found too much evidence that the Federal Government is just stalling. Until maybe the salmon are all gone, and it becomes a moot point?

My No. 4 son trying to grow up sane in Eastern Oregon.

Sockeye salmon users in Upper Cook Inlet, Alaska are starting to pressure the State government there to do something about the runs there too. And it sounds like the familiar scruffing of foot dragging up there too. It's a tough situation and one that I'm glad I'm not involved in. There is always the option of moving away from a problem. But some people get pushed once too often and dig their heels in and fight for what they think is the right thing to do. And saving salmon runs is a popular cause.

Salmon runs aren't like reserving a pool of oil in the ground. Even trees are somewhat a one time extraction. But a salmon run happens every year, and can contribute millions and millions of dollars, through the multiplier effect, to the local economy. When there are other places to build our cities besides on top of a salmon stream, we should go with the former. Maybe the economy is getting so big that even built up salmon runs are peanuts compared to a Nike or some computer company. But would you like to end up with just computer companies and sneaker companies as choices for an occupation or recreation.

Sport fishing for salmon was a great way to stay sane through the teen years in Alaska. Subsistence fishing in Upper Cook Inlet for reds was just as recreating. Watching your net fill up with your 85 reds as the tide roared in. The immense pod of beluga whales going by following the school of salmon. The warm summer sun, and bringing all those silver, omega-3 containers, back to the smokehouse and pickle barrel. Bureaucrats hired out of the Ivy League schools don't have a clue what it's all about. I tried being a bureaucrat once and found it to be mutually exclusive of the hunting/gathering mentality. Not that we don't need people with a one track mind on progress, but progress should be a type of progress folks want and not be forced to take just because it was in "Government Technology" magazine.

I didn't see a whole lot of compassion for fishermen in government, come to think of it. Just a lot of "whoopie, this is a fun job." Thank goodness judges have a little understanding. And commercial and sport fishermen can still vote.


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