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July 27, 2008 12:00 AM

Summertime and the fishing is perplexing

Posted by Jim Vesely

A story out of Portland reveals the remarkable news that the largest run of sockeye salmon is running up the Columbia River -- more sockeye than have been counted in five decades, since 1938.

A depleted fishery that 10 years ago was reduced to just two fish at Lower Granite Dam on the Snake River has seen 800 return to the dam. About 218,000 have been counted at Bonneville Dam. What to make of it?

Jim Vesely's Sunday column explains how NOAA views the fishery. Click below for a podcast Q&A with the author.

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Posted by sockeye

5:40 PM, Jul 27, 2008

Interesting subject -- one note: The sockeye returns have a limited bearing on the Snake dams debate for several reasons:

1) Over 99% of these fish are Columbia sockeye, not Snake River sockeye
2) So far, one fish has made it back to the Stanley Basin where it will be captured for a life-support hatchery
3) The Wenatchee/Osoyoos/Canadian fish returning to the Columbia arm aren't and never were endangered
4) Additional spill -- won by the environmentalists in court -- has helped all these fish this year. Scientists agree that dam removal would help sockeye still more.

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