Skip to comments.The Pacificís Salmon Are Back ó Thank Human Ingenuity
Posted on 04/23/2014 10:08:06 AM PDT by neverdem
Geoengineering could turn our long-barren oceans into a bounty.
In 2012, the British Columbiabased Native American Haida tribe launched an effort to restore the salmon fishery that has provided much of their livelihood for centuries. Acting collectively, the Haida voted to form the Haida Salmon Restoration Corporation, financed it with $2.5 million of their own savings, and used it to support the efforts of American scientist-entrepreneur Russ George to demonstrate the feasibility of open-sea mariculture in this case, the distribution of 120 tons of iron sulfate into the northeast Pacific to stimulate a phytoplankton bloom which in turn would provide ample food for baby salmon.
The verdict is now in on this highly controversial experiment: It worked.
In fact it has been a stunningly over-the-top success. This year, the number of salmon caught in the northeast Pacific more than quadrupled, going from 50 million to 226 million. In the Fraser River, which only once before in history had a salmon run greater than 25 million fish (about 45 million in 2010), the number of salmon increased to 72 million.
The fish really came back this fall, a year following our 2012 ocean pasture restoration in the NE Pacific. The wonderful heartening news is they came back in tremendous numbers, more than in all of recorded history in many regions such as SE Alaska nearest to our ocean restoration project location.
Now it is being reported that everywhere from Alaska to the lower 48, baby salmon that swam out to sea, instead of mostly starving were treated to a feast on newly vibrant ocean pastures where once they could neither thrive nor survive. They grew and grew and before too long they swam back to our rivers a hundred million strong.
The SE Alaska Pink catch in the fall of 2013 was a stunning 226.3 million fish. This when a high number of 50 million fish were expected. Those extra ocean pasture fed fish came back because their pasture was enjoying the richest plankton blooms ever, thanks to me a[nd] 11 shipmates and our work in the summer of 2012. IT JUST WORKS.
In addition to producing salmon, this extraordinary experiment has yielded a huge amount of data. Within a few months after the ocean-fertilizing operation, NASA satellite images taken from orbit showed a powerful growth of phytoplankton in the waters that received the Haidas iron. It is now clear that, as hoped, these did indeed serve as a food source for zooplankton, which in turn provided nourishment for multitudes of young salmon, thereby restoring the depleted fishery and providing abundant food for larger fish and sea mammals. In addition, since those diatoms that were not eaten went to the bottom, a large amount of carbon dioxide was sequestered in their calcium carbonate shells.
Native Americans bringing back the salmon and preserving their way of life, while combating global warming: One would think that environmentalists would be very pleased.
One would be very wrong. Far from receiving applause for their initiative, the Haida and Mr. George have become the target of rage aimed from every corner of the community seeking to use global warming as a pretext for curtailing human freedom.
It appears to be a blatant violation of two international resolutions, Kristina Gjerde, a senior high-seas adviser for the International Union for Conservation of Nature told the Guardian. Even the placement of iron particles into the ocean, whether for carbon sequestration or fish replenishment, should not take place, unless it is assessed and found to be legitimate scientific research without commercial motivation. This does not appear to even have had the guise of legitimate scientific research.
Silvia Ribeiro, of the international anti-technology watchdog ETC Group, also voiced her horror at any development that might allow humanity to escape from the need for carbon rationing. It is now more urgent than ever that governments unequivocally ban such open-air geoengineering experiments, she said. They are a dangerous distraction providing governments and industry with an excuse to avoid reducing fossil-fuel emissions.
Writing in the New York Times in 2012, Naomi Klein, the author of a forthcoming book on how the climate crisis can spur economic and political transformation, made clear the antihuman bias underlying the Haidas critics. Klein reported that while vacationing on the coast of Canadas British Columbia, in a place she had visited for the past 20 years, she was thrilled by the unprecedented sighting of a group of orcas. At first, it felt like a miracle. But then she was struck by a disturbing thought:
If Mr. Georges account of the mission is to believed, his actions created an algae bloom in an area half of the size of Massachusetts that attracted a huge array of aquatic life, including whales that could be counted by the score. . . . I began to wonder: could it be that the orcas I saw were on the way to the all you can eat seafood buffet that had descended on Mr. Georges bloom? The possibility . . . provides a glimpse into the disturbing repercussions of geoengineering: once we start deliberately interfering with the earths climate systems whether by dimming the sun or fertilizing the seas all natural events can begin to take on an unnatural tinge. . . . a presence that felt like a miraculous gift suddenly feels sinister, as if all of nature were being manipulated behind the scenes.
This is a remarkable passage. Previously, environmentalists objected to human actions that harmed whales. But now, human actions that help whales also evoke horror. Clearly, its not about whales at all. Its about prohibiting human activity, which is seen as intrinsically evil and therefore in need of constraint regardless of its content or intent.
Responding to these and similar antihuman ravings, the Canadian government went so far as to send gun-toting flak-vest-armored Environment Canada agents to raid the headquarters of the offices of the HSRC. George has been forced to resign the presidency of the corporation, as the desperate proponents of carbon rationing and fishing restriction scream for his head.
But the salmon are back.
Contrary to those who have denounced the experiment as reckless, its probable success was predicted in advance by leading fisheries scientists. While I agree that the procedure was scientifically hasty and controversial, the purpose of enhancing salmon returns by increasing plankton production has considerable justification, Timothy Parsons, professor emeritus of fisheries science at the University of British Columbia, told the Vancouver Sun in 2012. According to Parsons, the waters of the Gulf of Alaska are so nutrient-poor they are a virtual desert dominated by jellyfish. But iron-rich volcanic dust stimulates growth of diatoms, a form of algae that he describes as the clover of the sea. As a result, volcanic eruptions over the Gulf of Alaska in 1958 and 2008 both resulted in enormous sockeye salmon returns.
Unfortunately, while the potential of open-sea mariculture has been known for decades, experiments by established agencies that would validate the concept and lead to its commercialization have been blocked at every turn by regulators, who deemed such efforts at oceanic fertilization to be possible violations of U.N. protocols banning marine dumping. It took the daring George-Haida team to jump past the regulatory quagmire and break the impasse.
The George-Haida experiment is of world-historical significance. Starting as a few bands of hunter-gatherers, humanity expanded the food resources afforded by the land a thousandfold through the development of agriculture. In recent decades, the bounty from the sea has also been increased through rapid expansion of aquaculture, which now supplies about half our fish. Without these advances, our modern global civilization of 7 billion people would not be possible.
But aquaculture makes use only of enclosed waters, and commercial fisheries remain limited to the coasts, upwelling areas, and other small portions of the ocean that have sufficient nutrients to be naturally productive. The vast majority of the ocean, and thus the earth, remains a desert. The development of open-sea mariculture could change this radically, creating vast new food resources for both humanity and wildlife. Furthermore, just as increased atmospheric carbon dioxide levels have accelerated the rate of plant growth on land (by 14 percent since 1958, according to NASA satellite data), so increased levels of carbon dioxide in the ocean could lead to a massive expansion of flourishing sea life, provided that humans make the missing critical trace elements needed for life available across the vast expanse of the oceans.
The point deserves emphasis. The advent of higher carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere has been a great boon for the terrestrial biosphere, accelerating the rate of growth of both wild and domestic plants and thereby expanding the food base supporting humans and land animals of every type. Ignoring this, the carbophobes point to the ocean instead, saying that increased levels of carbon dioxide not exploited by biology could lead to acidification. By making the currently barren oceans fertile, however, mariculture would transform this putative problem into an extraordinary opportunity.
Which is precisely why those demanding restraints on carbon emissions and restrictions on fisheries hate mariculture. They hate it for the same reason those demanding constraints in the name of allegedly limited energy resources hate nuclear power. They hate it because it solves a problem they need unsolved.
The ultimate question comes down to this: Are humans creators or destroyers? If it is accepted that we are simply agents of destruction, consuming or ruining resources that existed before we came, then it follows that human activities, numbers, and liberties must be severely constrained and that someone must be empowered to do the constraining. On the other hand, if it is understood that humanity is fundamentally a creative force, that we invent resources and improve the world unleashing abundance, lighting the night, ridding continents of pestilence, and bringing barren oceans to life then it becomes clear that the essential mission of government is not to limit liberty, but to defend it at all costs.
By advancing the case for humanity, the Haida have rendered us all a signal service.
Happy Earth Day!
Robert Zubrin is president of Pioneer Energy, a senior fellow with the Center for Security Policy, and the author of Energy Victory: Winning the War on Terror by Breaking Free of Oil. The paperback edition of his newest book, Merchants of Despair: Radical Environmentalists, Criminal Pseudo-Scientists, and the Fatal Cult of Antihumanism was recently published by Encounter Books.
I’ve been talking about this kind of technology for thirty years. It’s nice to see it finally happen.
So what happens when they stop dumping Iron Sulfate into the water?.....................
Good find! Thanks1
What did I miss? Are we using Soylent Green already. GW alert.
The Haida Indians go hungry? I hope not. At some point the hypocrisy of the left becomes so great it can't be ignored for anyone willing to look, even some on the left.
Evidently iron sulfate is considered a “good” chemical by the greenies, that can be freely dumped with impunity into the oceans. However if a mean nasty profitable mine produced the same effluent, they’d be shut down in ten seconds by the EPA.
Luddites. Idiots. Morons.
Go live in cave and eat slugs.
Kudos to neverdem
One of the most important posts in ten years.
To all- please ping me to Canadian topics.
This is sort of like feeding the bears, after awhile they learn to just wait around to be fed.
This is an actual quote?!
What can men do against such reckless stupidity...
“once we start deliberately interfering with the earths climate systems whether by dimming the sun or fertilizing the seas all natural events can begin to take on an unnatural tinge”
OKaaayyy....and pray tell what would the “Global Warmist” want to do to “FIX” the climate if NOT “interfering with the earth’s climate systems” ? ?
Success, but the GW idiots didn’t think of it, so its a problem for them......not the Salmon.
This is freaking awesome. I might have a pink salmon filet tonight, although sockeye is really my fave.
This article makes a lot of good points; but it is also misleading, because it conflates “ open-sea mariculture” with “geoengineering”.
The Haida wanted more salmon, and they succeeded. That’s the open-sea mariculture part, and so far it’s been a good thing.
OTOH, Russ George (and others of his ilk) are interested in geoengineering — so that they can make a bundle, selling carbon-offset credits. George tried this years ago, and got shut down.
While it would be great to rid ourselves of carbon rationing, by the simple expedient of dumping iron filings into the ocean — there’s a large risk of going too far. Several year ago, oceanographer John Martin said: Give me half a tanker of iron and Ill give you the next ice age. The intent of geoengineering with iron filings would be to get rid of only the “surplus” carbon dioxide. Of course, the problem is determining how much CO2 is surplus (if any).
This is a lot riskier than the article makes out.
What do they want to do to ‘fix’ the climate?
1) Lower all our standards of living until the vast majority of humanity lives in huts, yurts, or caves. (Excepting the elites, of course.)
2) Remove all modern technology. (Excepting the elites, of course.)
3) Lower the population of Earth by first removing all whites, Americans, and (naturally) Christians. (Except...do I need to say it?)
Yes, happens every year. The life cycle of the salmon: hatch, swim out to sea, eat, grow, swim back up the river you came out of, have sex, and die.
"...sort of like feeding the bears,..."
I think that is the idea. Lots of salmon equals happy bears. Just imagine, all those bears waiting around the river for the salmon to show up.
Very interesting. Thanks.
A few years ago, they said Global Warming was going to kill all the Salmon off
See! The iron makes the salmon rust. Oh, the humanity !
This will work great until the Orcas figure it out, and their population starts to grow to meet the expanding population of food.
That said, this appears to be pretty good news, especially the part where they didn’t take taxpayer money to accomplish it.
the predators like whales that will eventually learn to come there to feed on the baby salmon will become trained to do so and will increase in number.
Which will result in a mass die off of the whales if the practice was suddenly stopped.
I'm fine with the Luddites eating slugs in caves. My problem is their insistence we do the same.
I don’t miss your point at all. In fact, it was the first thing I thought of.
Outstanding column. Thanks for posting it.
I don't smoke. I hate the smell of cigaretts. After I smoke a cigar I feel I have to shave my teeth(Our Church has a cigar dinner fundraiser). I know tobacco causes health problems. If you own a bar and want to allow smoking, go ahead. Just don't expect me to ever enter the place.
Freedom and liberty is a tough concept for lots of people.
How do they count fish?
The iron sulfate they already dumped remains in the system. Localized algae blooms won't occur any more, but the ocean will remain a little bit richer for the experience. Gains in biomass will level out and become more distributed. Not a disaster especially.
Wait until the EPA finds out about this and fines them BILLIONS$$$$ for “polluting” our oceans with iron sulfate, and then charging them for the cost of extracting the “pollutant”!
After the debacle with CO2 and the courts, don’t you dare try to tell me about how “natural” iron sulfate is!
Using the libs’ own logic back on them, it would appear that the environuts are all racists because they are waging war against the economic survival of the Haida tribe in Canada. Someone should represent the Haida as a sovereign nation and establish their international right to seed iron sulfate in the northeast Pacific, the historical waters of their historical food source. Anyone who opposes them is just a racist.
Don’t you understand that increased food supplies could lead to more people?!?!?
Do you not understand that every U.N. initiative for the last 50 years has been aimed at limiting the number “PEOPLE” on this planet?!?!?!?
There’s TWO kinds of “PEOPLE” this world doesn’t need:
1) The productive class who use and harvest the resources of this earth in disproportionate numbers,
2) The third world types who insist on reproducing at fantastic rates, and making the rest of us feel bad, because they need those resources much more urgently than we wasters!
Whales do eat fish. The largest - the Blue whale - eats krill.
First you have to confiscate all of our firearms. You cannot get started until you accomplish that first.
So the question for the environmentalists who object to farmed salmon (as it isn't natural) or other aquaculture project, how long can you prevent this major source of protein for humans from being brought into management by modern agricultural methods?
Either there will be “fish farms” or the sea will be fertilized and manipulated to produce more food for a growing world population. It is inevitable.
It depends upon who is doing the counting. The USF&WS counts adult fish in fish ladders. Others stun electrically juvenile fish in streams to get a sense of successful spawning. Yet others measure the catch. There are hordes of interested parties each with an agenda compiling it all.
Yes, but the increased population of whales will cause an increase in harvesting of whales by the native peoples of Alaska and the Japanese. When the whales die off, the Alaskans will go back on government welfare and the Japanese will try to establish a eastern co-prosperity collective with other nations in the region. What could go wrong?
Thanks for the info....and thanks for not telling me “one at a time..” (g)
With Russian, Japanese, and Korean trawlers out there creaming as much as they can take, that's not in the cards.
Fascinating article. And in response to the question of “what happens when they stop” ...ferrous sulfate powder is roughly $180 per ton.
I reckon the fishermen in Alaska and Canada will find a way to remedy the problem.