When a fish is in crisis, the public wants to blame the fishermen. It is preferable to blaming ourselves. But a fish whose only problem was overfishing, a fish stock that could be saved simply by a ban on all commercial fishing, would be very rare. It would be an enviably easy problem to fix.
The salmon is as magnificent an animal as anything on the Serengeti – beautiful in its many phases; thrilling in its athleticism; moving in its strength, determination and courage – and it would be a tragedy if it were to disappear. All that is true, but a more important point is that if the salmon does not survive, there is little hope for the survival of the planet.
The salmon, though it belongs only to the northern hemisphere, has always been a kind of barometer for the planet’s health. That is because anadromous fish – fish that live part of their life in freshwater lakes and rivers and part of it in the sea – offer a clear connection between marine and terrestrial ecology. Most of what we do on land ends up impacting the ocean, but with salmon we are able to see that connection more clearly.
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