Alaska’s Copper River salmon are just a fraction of what they were at last year because of warming waters, Alaska biologists say.
The runs of the prized salmon were so low that the Alaska Department of Fish and Game shut down the harvest last month – which normally lasts three-months – after only two weeks according to Reuters.
The total commercial harvest for Alaska’s marquee Copper River salmon this year after it was halted at the end of May was about 32,000 fish, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game reported to Reuters.
That compares to the department’s pre-season forecast of over 1.2 million and an average annual harvest of over 1.4 million fish in the prior decade.
Alaska State biologists blame warming in the Gulf of Alaska of the Copper River salmon.
The water is warmer than normal due to a warm, North Pacific water mass that climate scientists have dubbed “the Blob,” along with other factors, said Mark Somerville, a biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.
Warmer temperatures caused the metabolism of the fish to speed up, Somerville said. “They need more food for maintenance,” he said. “At the same time, their food source was diminished.”