Is overescapement financial or biological?

In the days and weeks ahead, we will be hearing all about “overescapement” of sockeye salmon into the Kenai River. “Too many fish will spawn on top of each other,” will be the war cry, “They will kill each other off and the run will die off.” “Manage biologically” will be heard over and over. “There will be too many fry and not enough food for them to successfully survive over the winters in the lakes.” And on and on. One “retired” biologist has even “proven” on his trusty computer model that the reason our kings are nonexistant is because they were allowed to “overescape” for years into the Kenai River.

It is time to stop drinking this political Kool-aid!

If we could all get on the same page and agree that the term “overescapement” is strictly a corporate financial term, then the basics of fisheries management would change for the better for everyone. In my opinion, we are not escaping enough sockeye salmon into the Kenai, which can cause extreme changes in the phosphorous and carbon and nitrogen levels that a river needs to be healthy.

In Bristol Bay, overescapement is a financial term. It means lost revenue for the commercial fishermen. Biologically, there is no such thing as overescapement in the waters of Bristol Bay.

In the 2008 Karluk River, Kodiak, salmon crash, the cause was determined to be underescapement of sockeye salmon which in turn caused the crash of the plankton blooms necessary to fry survival. The state of Alaska spent nearly a million dollars seeding Karluk Lake and apparently are seeing good results.

If “overescapement” is anything more than financial, why then is Bristol Bay Aquaculture Corporation allowed to dump over 600,000,000 hatchery pink salmon into Prince William Sound every single year? This is done without any meaningful environmental study on the impact this has on our many other species sharing the same waters and food chains. And we wonder what has happened to our king salmon?

Please folks, go immediately to your cupboards and pantries and throw out all the Kool-aid. Kool-aid is not good for the fish.


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