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Chinook Salmon Invade South America

By: Sarah Kuck
World Changing
June 17, 2008
http://www.worldchanging.com/archives/008134.html

Trying to manipulate nature to get what we want often has unintended consequences. One of the most recent examples of this has been the chinook salmon’s colonization of Chile and Argentina.

People introduced chinook salmon to southern South America for aquaculture about 25 years ago, but now the species has started self-sustaining and rapidly expanding in the wild. According to ScienceNews:

“A broad survey of records and stream visits finds chinook reproducing on their own in at least 10 Andean watersheds that empty into the Pacific plus more along the coast, and three Atlantic watersheds," Cristián Correa of McGill University in Montreal and Mart Gross of the University of Toronto report in the June Biological Invasions.
While their North American counterparts are dwindling (to say the least -- U.S. government fisheries managers closed both commercial and recreational chinook fisheries in California and much of Oregon for 2008), the South American chinook are flourishing. This is due to conducive environmental conditions like cool rivers and rich feeding grounds, but it also helps that they don't have to deal with dams, overfishing and hatchery-stock genetic mixing like their Northern relatives, Jack A. Stanford told ScienceNews. Stanford directs the University of Montana’s Flathead Lake Biological Station and also works with the Wild Salmon Center in Portland, Oregon.

The news of chinook colonizing South America "absolutely, unequivocally proves how stupid we’ve been in managing our fish," Stanford said.
To the previously chinook-salmon free ecosystem, this is an invasion. As the population of the salmon species continues to increase, Correa told ScienceNews he worries that they might disrupt both freshwater and marine ecosystems by outcompeting other fish species and by bringing up “massive seasonal pulses of nutrients” into a system that usually runs on a “sparse budget.”

But as the article mentions, the invasion could carry an unintended benefit for scientists studying salmon to find out more about their mysterious lives:

In North America, salmon populations have adapted to the particular watershed where the fish hatch and eventually return to breed. With the ongoing invasion in South America, “we can study evolution in action,” Correa says.
The article also makes evident how robust and resilient salmon populations truly are. If we would only manage our own fish more wisely and institute appropriate recovery plans, as Standford hints at, we might be astonished by how quickly our stocks could rebound.

The salmon need a plan that will not only help them recover from their current challenges, but one that will also help them face problems they are soon to face regarding climate change.

These plans exist and are readily available, Patty Glick, a senior policy specialist with the National Wildlife Federation, told ScienceDaily. Glick is a co-author of a A Great Wave Rising, a report that ScienceDaily calls 'the first to offer federal managers a set of strategic global warming solutions necessary for the recovery of endangered Columbia and Snake river salmon and steelhead and the communities and industries that depend on them.'

“Salmon are exceptionally resilient and flexible, and they will need all that resilience to survive global warming. We offer a scientifically robust strategy that has so far been missing in federal actions,” Glick said. "Solutions are not only available; they can and must be implemented now.”
As we can see in the case of the South American chinook, if we give these remarkably strong fish half a chance their numbers are bound recover. The plans exist, it's all just a matter of implementation.

**************

BCWF ALERT
John B Holdstock
BC Wildlife Federation
Kelowna, BC
 

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They've also been introduced into Australia and NewZealand; however, I don't think the results have been as good. I've also read that you can go fishing for salmon and sea run brown trout in the Falkland Is. but I have never seen a pricture the fish the call a salmon so it could be something else. The world full of fish call salmon and most don't look anything like ours.
Have fun, Jason
 

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They're not native to the Great lakes which now has a strong population. They swim with the nonindigenous "Steelhead".

I think somebody must have traded for some bass a wile back. ;)

Baiter
 

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Guess that puts to rest all theories about rising water temperatures being a cause of their decline.

I say hooray! at least now we know where we can get fish to restock our waters once we let fisheries and oceans play about until the last few native fish disappear.
 

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I was going to comment on that part, the part that everyone is blaming rising ocean temp on the decline of our stocks when these same fish are flourishing in a place where the water is a lot warmer. Just another excuse the government is using to cover up the fact that the fish farms are the main reason in 10 or so more years there will be no fish left at all.

On a second note, sure we can restock with Springs from there, but where will the Pinks, Chum, Sockeye, and Coho come from if we screw ourselves over by killing them off ???
 

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I pretty sure the water of most of Chile and Agentina are very similar in tempature range as our and have been since Magelian rounded the cape. There is a massive up welling that causes the Humbolt current bringing up cold deep nutreint rich water to the surface and make the water cooler than expected at the latitued.
Have fun, Jason
 

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I wonder what would happen if we were to leave our salmon alone for a few years, clean up some streams and give them a chance. I would bet that the stocks would come back fairly quickly. I would love to keep tabs on the situation down there and see how it goes. If the rivers produce enough fish to make a fishery viable, maybe the world supply of salmon will increase, lowering the price of salmon, and hence lowering the incentive to catch them here. Or then again, maybe South Americans don't eat salmon now and will begin to and increase the demand more than the supply goes up. It's all so confusing!
 

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bigjay said:
I pretty sure the water of most of Chile and Agentina are very similar in tempature range as our and have been since Magelian rounded the cape. There is a massive up welling that causes the Humbolt current bringing up cold deep nutreint rich water to the surface and make the water cooler than expected at the latitued.
Have fun, Jason
Yeah to second that, this is in argentina and chile which are quite far south. Remember, just cause it's in south america, doesn't make it tropical!
 
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