Rene Sanchez's June 9 news story, "Making the Northwest Less Pacific," failed to address scientific evidence that the decline in the Pacific Northwest salmon population that began in the mid-'70s is the result of a natural increase in the ocean temperature and not human activities.

A warmer ocean has a detrimental impact on salmon survivability because it kills off much of the zooplankton that serves as a food source for fish. Victor Kaczynski, a consultant on fishing issues in the Pacific Northwest, estimates that the zooplankton food supply has fallen by as much as 70 percent, causing a concomitant 70 percent reduction in the salmon population.

This warming is not due to man-made global warming, as some environmentalists claim. It is the result of a natural cycle that has been going on for hundreds of years in which the ocean warms for 20 to 30 years and then cools for a similar length of time. University of Washington scientists Nathan Mantua and Robert Francis, and Steven Hare of the International Pacific Halibut Commission conclude that the current warm "phase should be expected to reverse within a decade, at which time favorable ocean conditions should return for West Coast salmon."

The federal government's decision to impose Endangered Species Act regulations on the Pacific Northwest economy will do nothing to affect the natural oscillations in the salmon, which will soon rebound anyway, but will needlessly inflict major costs on the people of the region.


Director, Environmental Policy Task Force

National Center for Public Policy Research