National Geographic : 2009 Aug
• salmon" could represent a byword for good resource governance and a green brand, re ect- ing the greatest success story in the history of fisheries management. Or that phrase could memorialize the saddest and most unneces- sarily squandered conservation opportunity of the early 21st century. ink: American alli- gator. Or think: passenger pigeon. At present, the situation is uid. for a salmon, even with- out politics and economics. Consider the 1.2 million fry released each spring from the Malki hatchery. Roughly ve inches long a er their rst months of growth, they face no easy path from infancy to adulthood. What they face, rather, is a high likelihood of early death. For starters, the hatchery lies about a hundred miles (as a sh swims) from the sea. Each little salmon must descend the Bystraya River to its con u- ence with a larger river, the Bolshaya. Eluding all manner of freshwater perils on the Bolshaya, it must gradually metamorphose into a di erent sort of sh, a smolt, capable of making the tran- sition to life in salt water. From the mouth of the Bolshaya, on Kamchatka s west coast, it must enter the bigger world of the Sea of Okhotsk, a frigid but nourishing body of water between the peninsula and mainland Russia. en, for a period of two to ve years (depend- ing on the species), that fish must circulate through the Sea of Okhotsk or else southeast- ward around the peninsula s tip into the expanse of the Paci c. e sh might travel thousands of miles, nding its preferred food (mostly small squid and crustaceans) abundant but facing predation, competition, and other challenges of the marine environment. For instance, it might be caught in the open ocean by shermen using enormous dri nets that trap everything in their path. If it survives these years of robust swimming and feeding, it will grow large, fat, and strong. at s the advantage of anadromy (a sea-run life history): e ocean years allow Scene-stealing Koryaksky Volcano looms above Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, the regional capital. Here entrepreneurs and bureaucrats execute plans for pipelines, roads, and mines---developments that will build wealth but endanger salmon runs.