Tuesday, November 4, 2008

A little good news

After all the recent bad news about last summers salmon harvests, the poor returns to rivers and streams this fall and the effects to fishing families, orcas and bears, it's time to spread a little good news about our oceans for a change.

According to the latest reports from NOAA's Northwest Fisheries Service Center, the trend towards cooler ocean conditions continues and oceanic ecosystem indicators are shaping up to almost certainly make 2008 the most outstanding in eleven years. you can check out their report at; http://www.nwfsc.noaa.gov/research/divisions/fed/oeip/b-latest-updates.cfm.

All these indicators add up to a healthier ocean. The trend began in the summer of 2007 and they are a big improvement over 2005 and 2006. This bodes well for young salmon heading out to sea in the spring of 2007 and 2008 and also for other marine fish and many bird species. The NOAA update covers the northeastern Pacific from California to Juan de Fuca Strait, but Canadian oceanic research west of Vancouver Island found similar conditions.

Most fishermen I heard from this fall reported poor catches but they also mentioned that there seems to be better "sign" on the grounds than has been seen for a long time. By that I mean they are reporting more and larger schools of bait fish like herring, needlefish and sandlance. These small forage fish depend on phytoplankton and zooplankton for their food. Better conditions for these tiny critters means good news for everything higher up the food chain including the salmon, orcas, bears and fishing families.

As we say at Living Oceans, "Healthy Communities depend on Healthy Oceans."

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