Not just eels in Britain and elsewhere are declining terribly …
This video from North America is called Underwater Chinook Salmon on the spawning run action.
From the BBC:
19 September 2012 Last updated at 02:21 GMT
By Lynsea Garrison
BBC News, Kenai Peninsula, Alaska
When the number of king salmon running in Crooked Creek’s river declined dramatically, the mostly native Alaskan villagers were left wondering where they could find enough food to last the winter.
Crooked Creek has no big-box grocery stores or roads to other towns. But in good times, the Kuskokwim River promises king salmon to the villages along its 702 miles (1,130km).
But good times are fading into memory for villagers like Evelyn Thomas, who has lived in Crooked Creek her entire life.
“When we don’t get ‘the food’, a staple of our diet is missing.”
Over the past five years, Alaska’s king salmon have begun to disappear from the state’s rivers, and no-one is sure why.
This summer’s king salmon season yielded one of the lowest catches on record. The drop has devastated commerce and tourism, but the most dramatic effect has been on subsistence villages where fishermen eat what they catch.
In an emergency effort to ensure the future survival of the king salmon, state officials have severely limited the catch this year, even going so far as to close some rivers entirely to fishermen.
Fishermen accused of breaking the limit have been prosecuted, their catch confiscated.
“Many people don’t know how they’re going to feed their families throughout the winter,” says Thomas. “There is no economy here, there is no money.”
Crooked Creek is part of one of the poorest regions in the US, the Yukon-Kuskokwim delta in Alaska’s south-west.
The delta’s rural villages suffer from chronic unemployment and some of the highest poverty rates in the country – up to 31%, compared to 15% nationwide.
The cost of living there is exorbitant, because the area has few roads. Petrol and other supplies must be imported by barge or plane.
But one king salmon can feed an entire family for a week.
The fish ranges from a glittering silver in colour to a bold red, but its most distinctive trait is its size. Fishermen in villages like Crooked Creek wade in the Kuskokwim River to catch king salmon in their nets.
They hang their catch on racks to dry and preserve it for the winter. Families can the salmon and make smoked boiled salmon during the winter. Or they freeze the salmon and fry or bake it.
The salmon’s rich flavour and oil nourish families through the long, dark winter.
But this year, the delta’s fishermen hauled in less than a quarter of the usual harvest of 80,000 king salmon, according to the Association of Village Council Presidents.
“Many people in the villages will have to choose between food and fuel this winter,” says Myron Naneng Sr, president of the association.
The reason for the drop remains unclear, says Pat Shields, a biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.
“There’s a concern about kings in Alaska right now – very few rivers have achieved king spawning escapement goals,” he says.
“We’re in the third, fourth, fifth year of this now – what’s happening? We have made our spawning goals in systems and we’re not getting the adults back.”
Since most of Alaska’s prime salmon rivers have suffered large declines, scientists are searching further downstream, in the ocean for clues. Researchers have no sense of when – if ever – the salmon will recover.
Alaska’s economic vitality is tied to the health of its king salmon, and anxiety over the fish’s fate is felt particularly strongly on the Kenai Peninsula. …
King salmon facts
Salmon is the most valuable commercial fishery managed by the state of Alaska, worth $512m (£319m)
Sport anglers on the Kenai Peninsula spend over $40m annually on king salmon fishing
King salmon are the largest salmon species, typically measuring 3ft long, they can weigh an excess of 120lb (54kg)
The fish lives in freshwater and marine environments as far south as southern California to as far north as the Bering Strait
King salmon is also known as chinook salmon
Source: BBC research
Search for the culprit
King salmon is Alaska’s state fish, but the species thrives from the Bering Strait to as far south as Ventura River, California.
California saw healthy king returns this summer, leading some researchers to cite a cyclical change in ocean temperatures known as Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) as a possible culprit.
Unfortunately for the salmon fishermen, PDO can last up to three decades.
According to one theory, PDO has reduced king salmon’s food supply in oceans off Alaska, while at the same time replenishing stocks in California, Oregon and Washington.