Scientists respond to Lubchenco
Friday, March 11, 2011: In a recent commentary in The Oregonian, Jane Lubchenco, administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, stated that salmon recovery in the Columbia Basin is now being guided by science and pointed to increased survival of juvenile salmon and improved returns of adult salmon as validation of recovery efforts. But attributing improvements in salmon and steelhead returns to the recovery program alone is misleading. Survival of juvenile salmon in the Columbia River has increased because of improved passage conditions, due largely to increased spill at the dams -- ironically, an action that was imposed on federal agencies by court order. Improved ocean conditions have resulted in increased adult returns for some populations of salmon and steelhead. Unfortunately, most of the returning fish are from hatcheries. Wild fish populations remain far below recovery levels.