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EDITOR, Daily News:
By definition, Alaskas salmon is wild — the most incredible and miraculous migratory fish in the world.
Ketchikan earned the title ot King Salmon Canning capital of the World because fish traps, lobbyists of the day, were invented here in 1896 and operated ruthlessly every day during the runs until 1959, with 13 canneries operating cocurrently and 213 traps in the area — exterminating more than 100 DNA salmon streams. Low runs prompted fishermen to create and contribute to hatcheries through SSRAA. Runs were restored because oceans were healthy enough to support the stock. This is no longer true. Alaska scientists recently took samples of fish delivered to processors and found that 4-year-olds were in a minority. What happened in 2014? The Gulf of Alaska warmed by 2 degrees, sea-star species crashed along the eastern Pacific coasts, the monstrous “Blob” phytoplankton bloom appeared in the Gulf, the Arctic summer ice pack was gone, and the first cruise ship, the Crystal Symphony, celebrated the finding of the Northwest Passage. Imagine the struggle of Onchorynchus trying to come home.
So what did the Salmon Capital of the World do? We continued the full-court press with our salmon derbies: out to get the largest, the smallest, etc. Finally, we came to our senses and cancelled the 70th annual King Salmon derby. We’ve hoped that the runs were only late or lost, but transient orca started washing ashore. This winter we will have starving bears, wolves and carrion eaters. And who in this town during this summer of roasting temperatures and drought authorized the cutting, instead of thinning, of trees next to the museum and in City Park, that once shaded the spawning salmons’ journey? So the tourists could get a better view?
So this weekend, another three-weekend, full-court press on struggling salmon — coho this time — will commence. It will undeniably amount to the same mentality to get the last bison, sea otter, passenger pigeon, speckled cormorants, etc. I have never purchased a ticket to enter the King Salmon Derby. But this year, I am going to purchase a ticket and I am not going to fish. CHARR will have my contribution to its education fund, and the fish I might have caught weill further attempt to make their path home to the Salmon Capital of the World. This title requires our pride, protection and preservation. We’ll see how we do. Or how we didn’t. Buy a ticket and find another bonding activity, be part of the protection, not the damage. And pray that the only Alaska salmon remaining is not farmed.