A new study released earlier this week claims that California is at a very high risk of losing most of its salmonids within a century’s time. This includes both the Chinook salmon, highly prized specimens, as well as many other trout and salmon species.
The new report on the matter is called “State of the Salmonids II: Fish in Hot Waters” and comes as an update to a first similar such study, released in 2008. Research was carried out by UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences and the California Trout, a conservation group.
Climate Change and Dams are Just Some of the Dangers Faced by Salmonids
According to the report, California salmonids are put at risk by quite a number of factors. One of them is the ever present climate change and warming temperatures. Salmons and trouts rely on cold and clean water. But if snow starts thinning and glaciers melting, this latter could also start being a rarity.
Local agriculture was also presented as a risk factor. The study shows the negative effects of farming and grazing on the waterways. It points out how chemicals and eroded sediments can foul the otherwise clean waters. Irrigations can also reduce local water levels and leave salmonids stranded in shallow and warm water.
Presently, California holds some 31 genetically distinct kinds of trout and salmon. The report estimates that 23 of these may be gone within the next century. The 50-years outlook is even worse, all things considered. If current trends don’t change, some 14 species and subspecies could go extinct over the following five decades.
Still, the study researchers point out that salmonids may still have a chance. They suggest restoring coastal marshes and riverside floodplains, areas in which young fish should have plenty of food. Also, the scientists point out the need for focusing conservation efforts on mountain springs.
“We do still have time, and we are optimistic that with some effort, we can have a future that involves these fish,” says Curtis Knight. He is the executive director of the California Trout.
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