Time to diversify salmon portfolio: study

Wed Jun 2, 2010 1:03pm EDT
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By Allan Dowd

VANCOUVER (Reuters) - 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.


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.   Continued...