UAF Professor Offers Bleak Salmon Future For Alaska

A University of Alaska professor in the fisheries department offered a less than positive assessment of how the state’s up and down salmon stocks are headed for the longer haul.

Here’s more from Alaska Public Media:

“If really the question is, ‘Do I think that we’re just sort of in a down cycle? The bright side is coming next year or some year down the road?’ I don’t think so,” said Dr. Peter Westley, associate professor of fisheries with the University of Alaska Fairbanks College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences.

Westley gave a “State of the Salmon” presentation at Kenai Peninsula College on Thursday night, followed by a panel discussion on the challenges salmon face, the research being done and what could help ensure healthy populations.

King salmon top the list of struggling salmon species across Alaska, with some of the lowest runs on record in the last few years. When the decline in kings became irrefutable about 10 years ago, it led to increased research into what could be going wrong. …

“Pike really like eating juvenile salmon,” Westley said. “What’s going to happen if things continue to warm up? So predators, like all cold-water fishes, as things heat up, their metabolism speeds up. Consumption’s likely going to go up. So how many more salmon potentially are going to get eaten because of climate change?”

Given the tough times for the Last Frontier’s king salmon outlook in several regions, plus concerns up and down the West Coast, it’s hard to dispute what the professor fears going forward.