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Ronan's report


Wednesday, March 16th, 2011

It’s been a while since I posted something related to an environmental cause, but I think I’ve got something worth sharing this week. The internet has brought us a bunch of annoying stuff for sure, but it’s also brought us the ability to connect quickly and easily with like-minded individuals and spread important information. Facebook and Blogs have become the fastest way to get the word out in many instances, and I want to share with everyone an instance where the medium is doing some good.

STOP EATING WILD STEELHEAD started as a Facebook page a few months ago and has developed a small but loyal following here in the PNW. Recently the movement expanded to a Blog to reach the largest possible audience.

So, what is STOP EATING WILD STEELHEAD? And, why should you care? In their own words,

Stop Eating Wild Steelhead is a grassroots movement born out of concern for our Pacific Northwest wild (native) steelhead.

We are not a political organization so much as a voice of concerned citizen anglers who wish to bring the plight of these fish to the attention of the general public who may not understand just how perilous the situation is for our dwindling numbers of wild steelhead trout. We have no affiliation with any established organizations.

As a proud symbol of the Northwest, the steelhead trout has a long history of cultural importance to our region. So significant is the steelhead that it is the State Fish of Washington. And yet, many people are not aware of dire situation surrounding these fish. In most rivers up and down the west coast, steelhead are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. On a few remaining rivers where they have not yet been listed, wild steelhead continue to be harvested even though these rivers are not meeting their escapement goals. No matter what marketing hype you may read, these fish are not of a self-sustaining population and we cannot afford to lose any more of them from our rivers.

We need science-based management for these fish. And we need to stop selling the last of this valuable resource in fish markets and restaurants. An effective means of doing so is to inform consumers so that they can make an educated decision to not purchase wild steelhead.

A couple of the things that STOP EATING WILD STEELHEAD has done so far:

1) Developed a list of companies and restaurants that are selling wild steelhead, including a Google Map showing the physical locations of said companies. It’s a great resource that allows folks to decide where they may or may not want to buy fish or dine out. This list also includes contact information if concerned folks would like to contact these companies and express their concern about wild steelhead. So far, several companies have stopped selling wild steelhead in response to public outcry generated in part by this movement.

2) Educated consumers and others about why wild steelhead populations are in bad shape, and how they can help. In an age of mass marketing and confusion surrounding what fisheries are sustainable, this is an important service.

3) Created a forum where concerned folks can come together and share important information and ask questions and get answers that help them make decisions that help wild steelhead populations.

So, if you are concerned about this issue, and especially if you live in the PNW, I encourage you to join the discussion on the Blog and Facebook. If you come across an establishment serving wild steelhead, please contact STOP EATING WILD STEELHEAD and let them know so they can spread the word. If you are concerned about another issue and have some passion, time, and energy to spare, consider this format as a way to start a grassroots movement.

Take Care and Fish On,
Matt


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