June 21, 2009

Changing ocean currents impacting salmon

The salmon population in the Gulf of Alaska has been dwindling as Pacific Ocean currents shift, Alaskan fisheries biologists say.

The Anchorage Daily News said Saturday the Pacific decadal oscillation may be to blame for an increase in cooler waters in the Gulf of Alaska, where king salmon fishermen have struggled for two straight years.

Changing water temperatures have also been blamed for the poor king salmon catches at Canada's Kodiak Island, Susitna Valley and Kenai Peninsula.

As an example, the number of king salmon caught in the Susitna Valley's Deshka River went from an annual harvest of up to 60,000 fish to fewer than 8,000 in 2008.

"It kind of has everyone wondering,'' Tom Vania, a regional management biologist for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game's Division of Sport Fish, said.

The runs are looking pretty poor,'' Keith Pahlke, a researcher with the state department, told the Daily News. The managers are stressing out over this. We thought we knew what we were doing here. It's pretty perplexing."