According to event organizer Bruce McNae, there is a narrow window of opportunity left to find and implement science-based solutions to the wild salmon crisis, which will be the focus of the three-day gathering.
Forum advisor and veteran fisheries biologist Jim Lichatowich said that since 1991, 16 distinctive wild salmon populations have been listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act in Washington State alone. Despite billions of federal dollars having been spent for wild salmon recovery on the Columbia River over the past 25 years, the wild salmon stocks continue to decline.
One of the goals of the forum roundtable is to evaluate what they see as the indiscriminate harvesting of salmon in a mixed stock, open ocean environment. This could allow salmon to return to their rivers of origin. At that point, selective harvest of hatchery fish could take place while allowing the wild salmon to continue upriver to spawn and rebuild their numbers.
Forum organizers hope the event and their website will serve as a conduit and resource tool to bring together wild salmon conservation groups from around the world to advise each other on the policies and measures that provide for the survival of these fish.
During the conference, they plan to explore the place-based nature of functioning ecosystems through the lens of nationality, culture, and experience with the understanding that functioning ecosystems transcend political and economic boundaries.
The event will culminate with a roundtable discussion where each participating organization will offer strategies that have and didn’t worked in their regions in an effort to expand the collective knowledge of the group.