September 14, 2009

Ocean warming may harm plankton, explain salmon declines

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The warming of the surface of the Pacific Ocean could harm plankton and have catastrophic consequences for species that depend on them, a University of British Columbia researcher predicted nearly 15 years ago, reports Carlito Pablo in the Georgia Straight. With the still unexplained collapse of the Fraser River sockeye runs this summer, temperature changes in the ocean and rivers could play a part in smaller sizes and numbers of fish, report two other studies by the same researcher and colleagues.

With four of the five species of salmon in British Columbia suffering from low populations, fishermen are turning their attention to pink salmon, largely ignored by the industry because of their small size, reports Mark Hume in the Globe and Mail. The fact that the pinks slipped by while fishermen focused on chinook, sockeye, chum and coho may account for their populations being more stable than those of the other species. That could change if sport and subsistence fishermen rely on pinks to fulfill their catches if the other runs don’t rebound.

− Emily Linroth

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