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Orca decline not due to commercial fishing
A remarkable trait among salmon is their ability to rebound from temporary environmental disasters. A severe flood or drought that disrupts their up- or downstream migration may decimate one year’s run, but if spawning and forage habitat remain healthy, a recovery can occur in as little as one life cycle.
The degradation of the natural river and nearshore sound environment that salmon absolutely depend on, due to the relentless development that’s turning the Puget Sound basin into one large metropolis, is another story. The only way our salmon runs could return to their former abundance is if we rezoned and restored the habitat that’s been lost.
To point the finger of blame for declining Puget Sound orcas first at fishing, as did your Nov. 27 story, (“Off course on the road to recovery”) is a disingenuous way to avoid acknowledging the real yet very difficult solution. Salmon fishing in Washington has been carefully regulated now for many generations of salmon, but that focus, though at first it may have slowed the decline, has not stopped it, nor can it. Let’s not alleviate our concern, not just for whales but all the other animals with which we share this region, by aiming at an easy-to-identify but no longer culpable target. Instead, assuming our concern and will to find a solution are more than empty words, let’s see what can be done to reverse our displacement of that natural landscape.
— Richard Bard