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    Curacao’s Big Oil and Big Tarpon

    By Brian Irwin

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    “Fish, two o’clock,” shouted Norman Chumaceiro, my guide to tarpon on the idyllic island of Curacao, 40 miles off the coast of Venezuela. “Now they’re at nine! And six. They’re everywhere!” he exclaimed.

    If anyone could help me come tight on a tarpon it’s Chumaceiro, who, along with his friend Albert Macares, are the only tarpon fishermen on the island. They spend most weekends angling for the king in the Schottegat harbor, just east of the Santa Anna Bay, where luxury cruise liners amble in and out, unloading thousands of tourists to the island every day to shop the strip of waterfront, candy-colored Dutch-style buildings. As I cast feverously to the rolling fish, hundreds of them, I couldn’t help but to notice that this harbor, while thronged with more tarpon than I’ve ever before seen, was coated with a thin slick of oil.

    Above: Norman Chumaceiro points to pods of tarpon, sometimes many dozen, in the Shottegat Harbor, Curacao. Photo: Brian Irwin

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    “Real Life” Science

    By Dylan Tomine

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    Both of my kids love their science classes in school, and Skyla often mentions wanting to be a marine biologist when she grows up. So when the field biologists from the Wild Fish Conservancy invited us to participate in some beach-seine sampling, as part of their project to assess juvenile salmon habitat around Puget Sound, we jumped at the opportunity.

    These guys were incredibly friendly and patient with the kids, happy to explain each process as they captured individual fish, measured and recorded them without harm, then placed them into another bucket for release once the netting was done. A great lesson in how science works in the field and the importance of consistent methodology.

    Above: Frank Staller, field technician for the Wild Fish Conservancy, explains the sampling process to Skyla and Weston. Puget Sound, Washington. Photo: Dylan Tomine  

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    Save the Blue Heart of Europe: The Balkan Rivers story

    By Ulrich Eichelmann

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    The Balkan Peninsula in southeastern Europe is known for its Mediterranean beaches, past wars, corruption, ethnic conflicts and, to insiders, Slivovitz and ćevapi—the plum schnapps and traditional minced-meat dish of the region. Stories about the area are plentiful, but I want to tell you a different story—a story about beauty, diversity and uniqueness, and an imminent threat in disguise.

    It is a story about the rivers between Slovenia and Albania, which are the most intact on the entire continent. Wild rivers with extensive gravel banks, spectacular waterfalls, deep canyons, crystal clear streams full of fish, large alluvial forests where rare eagles nest, even karstic underground rivers. But, most amazingly, almost nobody knows about them. They’re a hidden treasure in the middle of 21st century Europe.

    Above: Vjosa River, Albania. Photo:Roland Dorozhani  

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    Chuitna: More Than Just Salmon on the Line – Watch the full film for free and take action!

    By Paul Moinester


    Watch Chuitna - More Than Salmon On The Line. After a successful run on the film tour circuit and dozens of local screenings, we're thrilled to share this short film with you for free. Video: Trip Jennings


    Stop a Massive Open-Pit Coal Strip Mine on the Chuitna River

    Take_action_largePlease join the fight and help Judy, Larry, Terry and the Tyonek defeat the Chuitna Mine. All it takes is a few keystrokes and mouse clicks. Watch the film and share it on social media. And take action today at American Rivers by telling Alaskan officials to protect the Chuitna’s important habitat. Then, like the Facebook page or text “Salmon” to 313131. You will be notified when it’s time to speak up again.


    The Biggest Salmon Fight No One’s Heard Of 

    The 40-minute bush plane flight from Anchorage to Alaska’s Chuitna River watershed is like a journey back in time. As the tires grip the gravel of the tiny outpost runway, you are thrust into a wild world teeming with life and vibrant rivers overflowing with salmon. It’s a world like my Pacific Northwest home used to be, before we dammed our rivers, logged our forests, and destroyed our salmon runs.

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    Free the Snake Flotilla Action!

    On Saturday October 3, 2015, over 300 people—fishermen, Native Americans, farmers, orca lovers, business owners, students, salmon advocates, kayakers, and conservationists—took to the lower Snake River in southeastern Washington, a short distance from the Lower Granite Dam. Together, this diverse group formed the “Free the Snake Flotilla.” They were a representative slice of the movement that includes many thousands of people worldwide who are calling for the removal of four deadbeat dams on the lower Snake. Over 130,000 people have signed petitions and sent postcards and letters asking President Obama, his administration, members of Congress and key state and federal agencies to take these harmful dams out.

    As they gathered in kayaks and other water craft, this group of unlikely activists all agreed that the current situation on the Snake is unacceptable, and growing worse by the year: Thousands of endangered salmon died this summer due to over-heated river and reservoir water; endangered orcas are malnourished because their favorite food supply of Snake River Chinook salmon has been decimated by the dams; and, over $9 billion in government spending over the past 30 years, mostly on hatcheries and other failed approaches, hasn’t recovered any endangered wild fish runs.

    Above: Free The Snake Flotilla. Production Company: Moonhouse. Director: Ben Moon. Cinematography & Edit: Page Stephenson. Aerials: Whitney Hassett. Music: “Explosions in the Eye” by Peter M. Murray.

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    Save Money, Save Salmon, Save Mike: Free the Snake

    By Steve Hawley

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    Meet Mike. He’s 21 years old, 20 feet long, weighs about 10,000 pounds. He speaks a language that was taught to him by his elders: a series of squeaks, clicks and squeals that allow him to coordinate hunting strategies with his clan. His species is the apex predator in the eastern Pacific. He also babysits.

    Mike is often seen protectively swimming alongside his younger siblings, part of a group of 80 orcas known as the Southern Residents that spend their summers fishing in the vicinity of Puget Sound. But over the past decade the babysitting gigs have been too few and far between. Not enough young orcas are making it through pregnancy, birth and into adolescence. Toxicity is a problem, as it is for all the world’s large marine mammals. But lack of food—Chinook salmon—is a death sentence. Acknowledging as much, NOAA put Mike and the rest of the Southern Residents on the Endangered Species list in 2005.

    Above: J26 Mike surfaces in Haro Strait, a key foraging area for the Southern Residents. Photo: Monika Wieland/Orca Watcher Photography

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    A Fighting Chance for Wild Steelhead - Vote for Puget Sound wild steelhead gene banks

    Words and photos by Dave McCoy

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    The cacophonous boom of that explosion will forever resonate within me. With the flip of a switch, one hundred years of destructive history began to wash away. It was a new day—a day in which the Elwha was finally free. At long last, its waters could once again run unabated to the sea and its steelhead inhabitants could return to their long forsaken home waters.

    It had been a tough century for Elwha steelhead. Once so numerous it was common lore you could walk across the river on their backs, the Elwha’s steelhead population crashed after construction of the infamous dams. With 90 percent of the watershed choked off, their habitat was essentially rendered obsolete and their numbers nearly followed suit.

    That flip of a switch gave Elwha steelhead a fighting chance, something they had not had in a century. However, the State of Washington is now poised to let another man-made roadblock further depress Elwha steelhead stocks and undermine the recovery of wild fish—steelhead hatcheries.

    Above: Releasing the greatest reward, a wild steelhead. All photos: Dave McCoy

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    The Chase: a tiny film

    By RC Cone

    Honestly, we went to Iceland to catch big fish. It was that simple. We wanted to bask in the late Arctic sun while bringing dreamy meter-long Atlantic salmon to hand. We wanted to drink whiskey afterwards, go to bed and do it again every day we could. What surprised us wasn’t our ability to check that mission off the list it was the insignificance that those goals held compared to what we actually discovered. The Chase: a tiny film is an ode to the friendships and experiences that were shared while chasing our passions.

    Above: The Chase: a tiny film. Video: Tributaries Digital Cinema

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    Wild Fish Don’t Ride in Trucks

    By Yvon Chouinard and Matt Stoecker

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    This op-ed was originally published in the Sacramento Bee on July 23, 2015.

    On May 7, the Yuba Salmon Partnership Initiative (YSPI) shared a plan that would create the first “trap and haul” program of its kind in California. Trap and haul involves capturing fish, putting them in trucks, and moving them up or down rivers around obstacles such as dams.

    The initiative is proposing a 50-year, $700 million project that involves moving spring-run chinook salmon around two dams, Englebright and New Bullards Bar Dam, into the North Fork of the Yuba River.

    We all want to see the Yuba River and its salmon thrive. But an expensive project like this one, which doesn’t achieve real recovery of wild and self-sustaining fisheries or watershed function in the Yuba River, would be a huge mistake.

    Above: Yvon Chouinard looks out over Englebright Dam back in 2011, Yuba River, California. Photo: Matt Stoecker

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    Oregon Rain

    By Kate Taylor

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    I stand at my kitchen sink, looking out the window as I fill a glass of water. I live in Rockaway Beach a coastal community of 2,500 people, renowned for all that is epic about the Oregon coast: stunning beaches, lush forests and rich ocean and inland waters.

    I take a sip from the glass. Outside, targeting a nearby clear-cut hillside, a helicopter sprays a sheet of herbicide. I spectate as the chemicals float to dirt, supposedly doing their job—killing weeds that might choke out saplings. Those weeds line Jetty Creek, the source of my small community’s drinking water. Yes, you read correctly: logging companies spray chemicals over my community’s drinking water. And under the protection of the archaic Oregon Forest Practices Act, they’re permitted to do so.

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