Copper River Experiencing Second Lowest Commercial Salmon Harvest in 50 Years

From KTUU by Sean Maguire:

The Copper River Flats is seeing the second lowest salmon commercial harvest in the past 50 years, resulting in commercial fishermen being kept from catching the prized fish for nearly two weeks.

As of June 10, the Copper River weir shows that 154,866 reds have passed the counter since May 18. In the same period last year, 320,484 sockeye had swum up the river.

Art Nelson, a spokesperson for commercial fisheries with the Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game, attributes the decline in part to warmer ocean temperatures. “One of the theories is that there had been a number of years of unusually warm water in the North Pacific that was referred to as ‘the blob,’ and that is one of the things that folks believe is leading to the poor productivity, poor feed for the salmon and then poor salmon productivity because of that.”

Washington State Climatologist and research scientist at the University of Washington, Nick Bond, coined the term ‘blob’ in his research on the warming ocean phenomenon in the Pacific Northwest, and he thinks the salmon harvest in the Copper River has been affected by these changing temperatures.

“The ecosystem is a complicated system with a lot of different interacting parts to it, but we’re seeing disruptions of various sorts in the marine food web,” Bond said. “Certainly, a working hypothesis is we’re seeing the working hangover of the blob.”