Time to diversify your salmon portfolio – study

* A varied salmon population is stronger in long run

* Big hatcheries homogenize salmon population

* Could help depleted stocks recover

By Allan Dowd

VANCOUVER, June 2 (BestGrowthStock) – Efforts to protect salmon on
North America’s Pacific coast could take a lesson from
investors who hold diversified stock portfolios, according to a
study published on Wednesday.

Maintaining diversification within the salmon population
will buffer the commercial fishery from the turmoil caused by
the yearly ups and downs of individual fish runs, the U.S.
researchers reported.

“It’s the diversity of the mix that provides stability ….
Anyone who has put all of their money on the hot stock, be that
Enron or the Florida real estate market, has learned that
lesson,” said Ray Hilborn of the University of Washington.

Some salmon do better in cold wet years, while others
thrive in hot dry years, with that diversity — even within
species — bred into them by variations such as what coastal
waterway they spawned in.

Species of salmon in the Pacific include sockeye, pink,
coho, chinook and chum. They are born in fresh water, spend
their adult lives in the saltwater ocean, but return to their
natal rivers or lakes to spawn and die.

‘GAME-CHANGING’

The study published in the journal Nature challenges salmon
management theories in the United States and Canada that are
based on protecting the total number of a salmon species that
return to the coast each year to spawn.

“The game-changing part is we start thinking not about how
many fish we have coming back, but on the diversity of fish we
have coming back,” Hilborn said in a telephone briefing.

The researchers studied five decades of data on sockeye
salmon in Alaska’s Bristol Bay, where they credit
diversification within the sockeye population with keeping that
fishery healthier than many others on the U.S. and Canadian
coasts.

Once-thriving fisheries in California and Washington state
have seen the diversity of their salmon decline because of
heavy fishing, loss of spawning habitat and use of hatcheries
to bolster the wild population.

Large hatcheries homogenize the salmon population in areas
they serve, which makes the populations more vulnerable to
problems like disease and the impact of climate change,
according to the researchers.

The researchers said protecting diversity will require
protecting the varied spawning habitats, but it should help the
salmon recover in areas where they have been depleted and to
adapt to climate change.

“They have a remarkable ability to evolve and adapt to new
conditions,” said the University of Washington’s Daniel
Schindler, who spoke to reporters from Alaska.

Stock Basics

(Editing by Sandra Maler)

Time to diversify your salmon portfolio – study