Salmon 2100: The Future of Wild Pacific Salmon


David A. Bella


I invite you, the reader, on an adventure, a journey into a strange territory, a place where you can get lost as I did many times. I did not plan to go there. I thought my task would be easy. I was wrong.

Let me explain.

I had been confronted with a depressing assessment. Stated simply, the assessment concluded that under our current practices, wild salmon in the region would not survive. What would I do? The deadline given for saving or losing them was the year 2100. To some, this might not seem like a big deal. But think. Many bright and dedicated professionals and billions of dollars in expenditures have been devoted to the protection of wild salmon. Failure surely suggests that more of the same will not work. If the importance of this still does not grab you, let me help by expanding this depressing assessment. Under our current practices, we stand to lose far more than wild salmon; our own survival as a society is at risk. What we do for wild salmon is a quiz. The final exam is much bigger: what legacy will we leave for our children’s children? If we fail the quiz, then our prospects for the final are not good.

The first part of this chapter presents a proposal; similar proposals have been made for more than a century. This was the easy part of my task, a reworking of ideas I had addressed before. But then, at the prodding of reviewers, I was forced to address some troubling questions:

Given current practices and obstacles, can we realistically hope to bring this about? How could this really be achieved?

If we fail to confront such questions, our best ideas become illusions that invite despair.

I tried to answer in conventional ways: policy recommendations or plans. But, to be honest, I found I did not have much confidence in these. I was forced to depart from conventional ways. I found myself drawn into a territory that I had hoped to avoid because, despite my best efforts, the words I write from this territory sound strange and even bizarre. But let’s face it: the world is actually more strange and bizarre than we have been taught to believe. However, we will never notice this if we stay put in familiar and “normal” territory. I invite you, therefore, to leave this territory with me. But first, the proposal.