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Report: To Protect Salmon, Fight Global Warming

March 28, 2008

Seattle, WA – There's rough weather ahead for Columbia River salmon, and the culprit is global warming, according to a study released Thursday. A compilation of recent scientific research, the report concludes that a rise in river temperatures, smaller snowpacks, and more winter rain could combine to spell trouble for salmon.

Other fish species, and humans, also would be affected by the resulting low river flows and diminished water quality. Report coauthor Jim Martin, salmon scientist and former Chief of Fisheries for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, says things can be turned around -- but only with quick action.

"We're tinkering around the politically acceptable edge of the problem, rather than getting to the problem; and most importantly, we're losing time. The science is pretty clear, we really need to implement solutions right now, while there's still time.

The report suggests the next NOAA Biological Opinion, the federal salmon management plan that includes the Columbia River, include better water flows, headwaters protection, and reopening migration routes to those headwaters. It also warns that the nation needs to fight climate change by cutting back on global warming pollutants. The next BiOp draft is scheduled for release on May 5.

Martin believes there are real solutions that can make a difference for salmon, and that the global warming data makes it all the more urgent to put those solutions into place. The full report will be posted on the Web site of the group Save Our Wild Salmon, at www.wildsalmon.org.

Chris Thomas/Craig Eicher, Public News Service - WA