The salmon fishing season in California has been canceled, as salmon populations have collapsed in the past few years. This year, only 170,000 fish are expected to return to the Sacramento River, down from a high of over a million salmon in the 1990s. Other salmon populations across California have seen similarly steep declines.
The collapse of salmon populations will mean higher food prices for Californians. Fishermen who rely on catching salmon will have to find other means of supporting themselves. Indigenous people in Northern California, such as the Yurok Tribe, will be worst affected. Salmon are sacred to many indigenous nations in California and are an essential part of their traditional ways of life.
It’s not just California salmon that are in steep decline. Across the world, fish populations are in free fall. In the past 50 years, freshwater fish populations have decreased by 76%. A third of global fish stocks are overexploited and are in decline. The climate crisis is worsening all of this. Warming waters will disrupt fish habitats and life cycles. And marine ecosystems are being destroyed by the impact of the climate crisis. Coral reefs, the most biodiverse ecosystem on the planet, will decline by 70-90% by 2050 unless the climate crisis is stopped. Over 3 billion people rely on fish for food and for income. What will happen as these fish populations shrink or even disappear?
At the root of these collapsing fish populations in California and across the world is the system of capitalism we live under. The constant exploitation of the natural world for profit has led to the destruction of countless habitats and ecosystems that humans rely on to survive. If we want the ecosystems that support us to survive, we have to stop the destruction of the natural environment caused by the rich and their system’s rapacious search for profit.