In DepthConservation

Salmon-smeared notebooks reveal fisheries past bounty

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Science  23 Aug 2019:
Vol. 365, Issue 6455, pp. 733
DOI: 10.1126/science.365.6455.733

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Summary

Over more than 3 decades, from 1912 to 1948, a government fisheries "overseer" filled dozens of notebooks with fish scales from the Skeena, Canada's second largest salmon river. Ultimately, however, the records were dumped in a box and largely forgotten. This week, scientists unveiled a study that makes clever use of the fish DNA preserved in the battered, smeared books to reconstruct how wild Skeena salmon have fared over the past century. The conclusion is sobering: Declines have been more precipitous and widespread than previously understood, with the river's 13 major wild sockeye salmon populations plummeting by 56% to 99% over the period from 1913 to 2014, largely because of overfishing.

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