Category Archives: economics

The 6th H of salmon abundance: Heat

The clipping below is from a Daily Astorian article on an EPA report regarding global warming’s potential influence on Northwest salmon.  Of most import for killer whale conservationists are the implications of what James Martin calls a “perfect storm” for salmon: low snow pack with low, warm flows in the summer.
Martin provides a nice quote regarding the economic impact of such a storm:
“In Oregon, Washington and Idaho, it’s a 35,000-job industry, and it’s worth $3 billion dollars per year,” he said. “So it’s a lot more than just a hobby. There’s a lot at stake.”
That’s about 30x the $100M estimate of ecotourism value associated  with the southern residents.
The article also mentions a report co-authored by Martin and Patty Glick called A Great Wave Rising. Dan Drais of Save Our Wild Salmon recently handed me a copy and it looks like an admirable, balanced attempt to bring climate science into the on-going struggle to devise a legal federal plan for recovering endangered fish in the Columbia/Snake basin.  I particularly like that it is rich in reputable citations with which I (and global warming skeptics) can understand the uncertainties in the trends and projections.
A quote from Glick suggests that “Heat” should be added to the 4 H’s that govern northwest salmon abundance: harvest, hatcheries, hydropower, and habitat.  But just last night, David Montogomery claimed the 5th H should be “History” — the history of salmon-human interactions, particularly in Britain and in the Northeast U.S.  So, for me “Heat” has become the 6th H and I’m even more convinced that salmon recovery (linked with killer whale recovery) is one of the most complex, grand environmental challenges of our time.
clipped from

12/26/2008 11:21:00 AM
The EPA warns that climate change threatens Oregon’s cold-water fish populations
By Michael Burkett
East Oregonian Publishing Group
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s report on global warming
contains some dire predictions for Oregon’s time-honored reputation as a Mecca for coldwater fishermen.
Released July 17, the report warns that the time may come when salmon- and trout-fishing trips are no longer much of an option for residents or visitors. EPA scientists further caution that warming temperatures could lead to a 50- to 100-percent decline in Chinook salmon returns in some areas, since salmon require cool water and are extremely sensitive to increasing temperatures.

Once Oregon is hit by a perfect storm comprised of “a little less snow pack, lower summer water flows and higher summer temperatures, bam! We’ll go over a threshold, and suddenly we won’t have salmon or steelhead or trout,” Martin said.
blog it

No mention of orcas in Columbia salmon injunction email

The appended email from the “Columbia and Snake River Campaigns” provides a helpful synopsis (despite the awful typos) of recent legal activity regarding the management of salmon in the river system.  I find it noteworthy that the supporting quotes (and the email overall) make no mention of killer whales and their need for Columbia/Snake salmon.  It’s all about jobs in the fishing industry; there’s no mention of jobs in the whale watching industry.

Does anyone have good stats on the value of each industry?  I have a value in my head for the whale watching industry (from a 1990’s era article that I don’t have handy) of about $90 million per year for the US/Canada whale watching industry.  I’m not sure if this is direct revenue from whale watching, or integrated across all business driven by the whales existence.  A super-cursory search for salmon industry value turned up the newspaper article that suggests $60-300 million per year for West Coast (US) commercial and sport fisheries and associated business.

Salmon advocates work in court to restore salmon and Northwest jobs

Bobby Hayden,

Dear Scott,

Last week, the State of Oregon, along with fishing and
conservation groups within the Save Our Wild Salmon Coalition
asked a federal judge for help to improve river conditions for
endangered Columbia-Snake salmon and to begin rebuilding jobs
supporting West Coast fishing families and the salmon economy.

This past June, these same groups filed a lawsuit against the
Bush administration’s May 2008 Federal Salmon Plan for violating
the Endangered Species and Clean Water Acts. Over the last eight
years, courts have ruled the previous three federal plans
illegal for refusing to follow the science and the law and
failing to save and restore healthy runs of salmon and

Last week’s request to the judge was filed in U.S. District
Court (called an “injunction”) and seeks specific protections
for Columbia-Snake River salmon and steelhead in 2009. If and
how these measures are implemented depends Judge Redden’s ruling
on the Administration’s 2008 Salmon Plan. Many of the requested
measures, such as increased water flow and spill over the dams,
help mimic a real river and have proven to be effective
short-term solutions to aid salmon and support local fishing

On January 16, 2009, Judge Redden will hear oral arguments from
both sides on this important case. This request for the court to
require specific measures to help salmon in 2009 and beyond will
not be answered until after the Judge first rules on the
lawfulness of the 2008 Federal plan. made last week is unlikely
to be addressed until after the court rules on the merits. A
ruling on the injunction would be made sometime after
mid-February 2009. Please read below for more information. Stay
tuned for more updates as this moves forward.

What you can do:
While a favorable decision on the injunction will be a real
boost for salmon and West Coast fishing communities, it is not a
lasting solution. We need leadership from members of Congress,
both in the Northwest and across the country. In 2009 they will
have a great opportunity to move legislation begins to restore
endangered Columbia and Snake River salmon, creates new jobs,
and ensure a truly clean and affordable energy future.

If you haven’t already sent a quick message to your members of
Congress, please do so now:

Recent press on the issue:
Times-News – Twin Falls, ID: Salmon advocates propose dam
spills, higher flows

Associated Press (in the Oregonian): Salmon advocates ask for
more water over dams

Recent quotes from Northwest leaders:

Glen Spain of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s
“This is a jobs issue for the fishing industry, pure and simple.
The Snake and Columbia River dams still kill millions of salmon
and devastate salmon-dependent communities all up and down the
coast. Frankly, the Bush administration’s policy has been
nothing but denial and delay. With the new Obama administration
and next year’s Congress, we have a new opportunity to recover
these once-mighty salmon runs before it is too late. Otherwise,
we will see economic devastation in the Northwest like never

Liz Hamilton, executive director of the Northwest Sportfishing
Industry Association:
“We need the court to make sure we keep salmon on life support
until we can get them to the recovery room. We saw improved
salmon returns this year only because in 2006 fishers and
conservationists fought tooth and nail in court to secure
protections for these fish. But the Bush administration has
already stripped away these protections, calling for lower flows
and less spill. We’re fighting to make sure that this year’s
good news will not become just a fleeting memory.”

Harvey Morrison, Spokane contractor and steelhead fisherman:
“It’s important to understand that what is being proposed in
this preliminary injunction is not a long-term solution to the
economic crisis in the Northwest. It’s a stop-gap measure that
we must rely on because the Bush administration has left us no
other choice We need our Northwest lawmakers to show leadership
and bring people together so that we can find lasting solutions
that will secure fishing jobs as well as important
transportation needs for farmers in Inland Northwest.”

Bill Sedivy, executive director of Idaho Rivers United:
“This [request] is designed to buy our salmon and steelhead time
while we get to the business of developing a clean energy
infrastructure that is not dangerous for salmon and steelhead
and set the table for broad regional discussions and
negotiations that are going to lead to a final and successful
salmon solution someday.”


The recent injunction request seeks more spill over the dams and
increased river flow through Columbia-Snake River reservoirs to
help juvenile salmon migrate to the ocean. Science shows that
the quicker young salmon make it through the heavily dammed
river system, the higher their survival rate. But the Bush
administration’s salmon plan (also called a Biological Opinion,
or “BiOp”) released earlier this year rolls back – and even
eliminates – some of the key protections ordered by the court in
the past. Those court-ordered protections contributed to 2008’s
improved returns.

According to the Fish Passage Center, a government-funded,
independent science and data analysis agency that monitors
Columbia-Snake River salmon and steelhead, this year’s improved
returns are likely the result of more water left in the river
and the spilling of additional water over dams in 2006 when the
now-returning fish were migrating to the ocean as young salmon.
Judge Redden court-ordered those in-river improvements after
conservationists and fishermen fought to have them instituted –
over the vehement objections of federal agencies. Fishermen are
hailing the so-called “Redden effect” as an important tool for
keeping and creating sustainable jobs in the region until a
scientifically-sound, legally-valid salmon plan is in place.

This June, the State of Oregon, fishing and conservation groups
filed litigation against the Bush administration’s May 2008
salmon plan for violating the Endangered Species Act and the
Clean Water Act. Courts have already invalidated three prior
federal plans. On January 16, 2009, Judge Redden will hear oral
arguments on the merits of the case. The injunction requested
today is unlikely to be addressed until after the court rules on
the merits. Any ruling on the proposed injunction would be made
sometime after mid-February 2009.