COMMENTARY | Robert Zubrin best known for his advocacy of Mars colonies, recently touched on a little known project that has restored an abundance of salmon to the Pacific and in the process has gotten environmentalists irate.
“In 2012, the British Columbia-based Native American Haida tribe launched an effort to restore the salmon fishery that has provided much of their livelihood for centuries. Acting collectively, the Haida voted to form the Haida Salmon Restoration Corporation, financed it with $2.5 million of their own savings, and used it to support the efforts of American scientist-entrepreneur Russ George to demonstrate the feasibility of open-sea mariculture – in this case, the distribution of 120 tons of iron sulfate into the northeast Pacific to stimulate a phytoplankton bloom which in turn would provide ample food for baby salmon.
“The verdict is now in on this highly controversial experiment: It worked.
“In fact it has been a stunningly over-the-top success. This year, the number of salmon caught in the northeast Pacific more than quadrupled, going from 50 million to 226 million. In the Fraser River, which only once before in history had a salmon run greater than 25 million fish (about 45 million in 2010), the number of salmon increased to 72 million.”
As a happy side effect the operation has restored a variety of sea life and has served to sequester a great deal of carbon dioxide, which we are assured is causing global warming. You would think environmentalists would be over joyed. You would be wrong.
The objection seems to be based on the fact that this was a commercial enterprise. Environmentalists are also against anything humans could do to effect the environment, even if it is beneficial. Sadly they seem to have government regulators on their side, at least for now.
It is fortunate that no one had this attitude when the first hunter/gatherers hit upon agriculture. Indeed the Haida people seem to have applied to the oceans what those early people did to the land, by fertilizing it and thus increasing its abundance. That this is somehow considered a bad thing is a puzzlement and an aggravation.