National Fisherman

Mixed Catch 

jerryJerry Fraser is NF's publisher and former editor.



Top 5 Mixed Catch Stories

Given all the obstacles to rebuilding West Coast salmon stocks, I'd wager you didn't know marijuana was one of them.

To clarify, it's not as if salmon have become stoners with a bad case of the munchies who now swim upstream in a desperate search for a bag of Doritos.

Rather, according to a story in the Eureka (Calif.) Times Record, the conservation group Friends of the Eel River says marijuana cultivation is having a negative impact upon coho salmon and the watershed. It was the topic of a presentation the group's executive director, Scott Greacen, was giving at California's 39th Annual Fisheries Forum in Sacramento on Wednesday.

The daylong forum enables those involved in fisheries and aquaculture in the Golden State to directly address the state legislature about issues important to them.

Greacen was to discuss the negative impacts marijuana cultivation is having upon California's third largest salmon producing river. The group says poorly planned outdoor growing operations are resulting in problems stemming from over-use of fertilizers and pesticides that are toxic to fish, growers taking river water for their operations, and poor land-use practices that result in sediment slipping into the rivers.

Under California law, individuals can grow a limited amount of marijuana for personal and medicinal purposes. Amid conflicting county, state, and federal laws regarding marijuana growth (federal law prohibits it), growing operations have mushroomed in Northern California, and become big business.

Greacen told the newspaper that Northern California officials had been successfully regulating growing operations. But when the federal government started cracking down on marijuana dispensaries, growers slipped into the shadows.

Consequently, growing practices aren't eco- or fish-friendly and subject coho salmon that spawn and live in the river to pollution. Greacen told the newspaper that he hopes California legislators will understand the need for cooperation, transparency and regulation that can make marijuana grows more salmon and river friendly.

Inside the Industry

It’s no secret that fraud is a problem in the seafood industry. Oceana repeatedly touts a mislabeling epidemic. While their method has been criticized, the perception of rampant fraud  has been established.

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The Center for Coastal Studies recently announced that Owen Nichols, Director of the Center for Coastal Studies’ Marine Fisheries Research Program, has been selected as this year’s recipient of the John Annala Fishery Leadership Award by the Gulf of Maine Research Institute. 

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