23 of California’s trout and salmon species are going extinct.
You read that right. Currently, California has 31 different species of native salmonids, 23 of which are likely to go extinct within 100 years. In addition, 14 of those 23 may disappear in the next 50 years. The cause of this future extinction is climate change and drought, as reported by UC Davis and CalTrout.
The report examined all species of native trout and salmon, in hope that it will serve as a basis for conservation efforts in the state. According to the research, five years of drought and warming trends have had a massive impact on the state of California salmon. With runs of fish being of commercial importance to California, the state is posed to loose $7 billion from its inland sportfishing. Conservation efforts include dam removal and improvement of key habitat.
Salmon species have survived a lot of strenuous conditions, but climate change is testing them. The lack of cold water and prolonged droughts have decreased stream flow making spawning runs difficult. Human interactions with the environment are detrimental to the salmon as well. Mostly in the form of loss of habitat from dams and changing the food web. Even stocking efforts are causing problems, as the fish are interbreeding, resulting in hybrid species.
The good news is that groups are starting to take notice and in the case of the southern steelhead, it has bounced back before. The fish was once nearly wiped out and now number around 500. Conservation groups are working to restore the steelhead’s habitat.