Letters to the Editor

Letter: Salmon action needed now

Thank you to the ADN and Zachariah Hughes for the three-part series on the Yukon River salmon collapse. In the 30-plus years I’ve fished the lower Yukon, we’ve seen hard years, including last year, but nothing like this year. Nothing.

The last article asked: What caused this sudden collapse? The likely most significant contributor is the warming and acidification of the Bering Sea. Like the seabirds, our fish are starving in the ocean.

In the past decade that we’ve fished the lower Yukon, we’ve observed conditions never seen before: swampy tundra on fire, years with nearly zero mosquitoes, 80-degree days for two weeks straight, dead unspawned fish lining sandbars, a weird fungal disease that causes whirling disease in salmon, the disappearance of the permafrost beneath our camp and the last commercial king opening.

It’s time for our members of Congress to put a price on carbon pollution. Well done, with an adjustment at the border to keep American jobs here in America plus cash back to protect low-income households, a carbon price will give us a fighting chance against the climate crisis that is claiming our salmon.

Is this all that it will take, pricing pollution? No, other focused policies and goals will be needed, but they will all be much more easily reached with a steadily rising price on carbon.

What I’ve seen is just what’s happening in the lower river. Every stretch of the river has its own stories, and this year, its own heartbreak. If the Yukon is the canary in the climate coal mine, it’s a damn big canary and we better be listening hard to that silence. It’s time to take action on climate now and protect all our fish, fisheries and fish towns.

— George Donart


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