A SECOND OPINION: CAN SALMON SURVIVE MANKIND?

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As the Salmon goes, so go the finer things of life!
By Mary Foran

Who doesn’t love a delicately baked Salmon Steak, simply dressed in lemon, salt, and pepper, or daringly slathered in pesto, or a spicy orange sauce? Keeping the pinkish meat moist is important to the final degustation, so a foil tent might be required towards the end of the Bake!

Atlantic Salmon, Pacific Salmon, Alaskan Salmon–we are blessed with these so far–but in recent news reports there have been stories about the inevitable fight between habitat preservers and habitat destroyers–Canadian gold mining companies vs. Salmon fishery land managers. Apparently, gold mining concerns are surveying wilderness areas in Alaska right in the middle of Salmon country, where the rare grizzly bears and foxes prowl the Salmon’s spawning streams for the adult fish who die laying their eggs and fertilize them to create a whole new cycle of life.

Bear salmon-fishing in Alaska

Gold fever mining does nothing but digs up and destroy the land and watersheds, but in the new Administration, ecology has taken a back seat to rapacious economics.
The Salmon is such a universal delicacy that you’d think there would be an International Organization for the Preservation of the Salmon (an I.O.P.S.) which famous chefs and sous-chefs from around could join and fight for, and to which those who know haute cuisine could contribute!
Here in the NorthWest, we like to pride ourselves on being Salmon Territory, even though dams have had to be built which block the Salmon’s yearly journey from the sea to its spawning streams. Sea Lions, and seals, and the inundation of seasonal fishermen take their cut of the annual Salmon harvest. Native American Tribes of the Columbia, in fact, have special fishing privileges, as far as the Salmon goes, to make up for the dams which ruined their traditional fishing grounds at Celilo Falls.

Some trigger-happy, Salmonly-paranoid harvesters have advocated for shooting the Sea Lions who gobble the homing Salmon right up to the fish ladders provided for the tired travelers. No one thinks of shooting the Salmon-harvesters, who feel that people have more of a right to the Coho and Steelhead than other predators! It’s an annual battle that is fought every year, with no real solution in sight, because how can you realistically shoot every Sea Lion in the Ocean and get away with it? Even the Japanese have had to curb their whale-harvesting penchant.

Worth fighting for

The whole Salmon story (and what feast would not be complete without a whole salmon?) is one of Fisheries Management and Habitat Preservation, and that old economic theory–supply and demand!
The most exclusive restaurants in the world and the greatest of cooks will be helpless if the Salmon isn’t fought for and preserved.

(Not to mention, and I will mention it anyway, the pesticide run-off problem, the mercury-contamination problem, and the good ol’ lead poisoning problem, plus the ever-present e-coli from human wastewater, a pot-pourri of contamination issues that all nations should be working to resolve.)

. . . a pot-pourri of contamination issues that all nations should be working to resolve

Salmon, as a species, is a bell-weather breed of fish, and as the Salmon goes, so go the finer things of life!
Caviar, anyone?

Relevant quotation:  “THOSE WHO DWELL AMONG THE BEAUTIES AND MYSTERIES OF THE EARTH ARE NEVER ALONE OR WEARY OF LIFE,” Rachel Carson, author of Silent Spring, Under the Sea-Wind and The Sea Around Us. (Recommended Summer reading!)
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Images
Featured image/Jeremy Keith, CC BY2.0
Salmon-fishing bear/Christopher Strässler, CC BY-SA 2.0
Salmon dish/olivetreelounge bargrill, CC BY-SA2.0
Pollution/Gauthier DELECROIX CC BY2.0