The once thriving Coho salmon in Southern Oregon and the Emerald Triangle of Northern California are in danger of extinction according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. The NOAA Fisheries Service believes that farmers in the region are to blame. Beginning in 1997, coho salmon has been listed as a protected fish.
Coho salon are also known as silver salmon due to the coloring of the fish. At maturity adult coho salmon may display a red skin color along the belly with darker backs. The males develop a slight arching of the back. An adult coho averages seven to eleven pounds in weight; however, some have been rumored to weigh a whopping 36 pounds.
Officials believe the lack of regulation for farming has led to the depletion of the coho salmon. Some farmers illegally draw water from nearby streams and creeks for crop irrigation. Many of these streams and creeks are home to the coho salmon. Scientists often report dead salmon in dry creek beds in Oregon and California.
Some farmers will cut corners to sell crops for less. Regulations will balance the scales for organic farmers. Fruits and vegetables grown organically without pesticides are more expensive in the grocery store compared to traditionally grown produce.
Officials from the NOAA Fisheries Service are in the final stages of proposing a plan to restore salmon in the region. Decreasing the amount of water illegally drained from streams and creeks is definitely a priority. The Watershed Enforcement Team from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife are planning to fine farmers for illegally drawing water from creeks and streams.
The agency cites the clear cutting of forests for crops as detrimental to salmon in the region. Farmers are building roads to access the crops. Sediment from the road beds are displaced into creek beds. The crops are sprayed with pesticides and fertilizer that wind up in the creeks due to run-off from rainwater. The pesticides and fertilizers then poison the coho salmon.
The Watershed Enforcement Team has plans to rid the region of algae filled rivers, muddy creek beds and poisoned streams from cannabis agriculture. In 2012, salmon appeared to have rebounded in the region; however, in the past two years the rivers, creeks and streams have experienced widespread depletion. Coho salmon may soon replenish in the region by the congruent efforts of the NOAA Fisheries Service and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife Watershed Enforcement Team
*Royalty free photo courtesy of Flickr’s Creative Commons.