New York Times On Orcas, Kings And The Future In Southeast Alaska

There have been plenty of headlines in recent months about the fate of Southeast Alaska king salmon and the Southern resident orcas – a species that feed on the salmon that originate in many Puget Sound rivers – that promoted a lawsuit, closure of the Southeast Alaska trolling fishing season and then the reinstatement of a season that opened on July 1.

The New York Times has weighed in with a lengthy report on the fish and the whales that are at the center of the controversy. Here’s a snippet of a really good piece by the Times’ Julia O’Malley:

Some scientists say that even if the ocean were full of king salmon, the Southern Residents would still be in trouble.

But the ocean won’t be full of king salmon. Like the orcas, the kings are today at the mercy of years of human choices. In the Pacific Northwest and California, wild salmon runs have been decimated by dams, agricultural pollution and hatchery programs that harmed stocks of wild fish. Climate change has brought a new list of problems. Efforts continue to protect and restore fish populations, but a number of stocks have been listed as endangered.

While the troller lawsuit makes its way through the appeals process, the Wild Fish Conservancy said it will encourage consumers to stop eating wild king salmon from Alaska’s troll fishery and petition to have many of that state’s king runs listed as endangered.

“I think it’s easy to sit in Alaska and just see one side of that story, but from where we’re sitting, we’re seeing the other side and many people here are really concerned about Chinook going extinct and killer whales going extinct,” said Emma Helverson, the conservancy’s executive director.

The whole story is an interesting read as this controversy trudges on. Here’s some more social media reaction: