SciSun: Would you like some Fish with that wine?   Leave a comment

Everything people do somehow affects our natural environment. The buildings we live and work in use natural materials; cars and trucks that we drive in or that deliver the things we need (and maybe some things we really don’t need!) use energy; and we have the choices to use (and abuse) our natural resources, or take care of the environment and show responsible stewardship. Even our everyday food and drink can have unknown, and unexpected impact to the natural world. For example, it’s recently been seen that increased use of water during the summer to irrigate grapes – vineyards that make wine – has been very hard on the fish that depend on year-round streams for protection and growth.

Many fish, including Steelhead Trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) and Chinook Salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) in northern California and the upper Columbia River (on the border of Oregon and Washington), live most of their adult lives in the ocean, but only lay eggs in fresh water streams. The young fish stay in these streams until they’re large enough to swim into rivers, and then all the way to the ocean. For little baby fish, a shallow, protected stream is a much safer place to be than an ocean filled with much bigger fish and sea lions and otters and fishermen and all types of other dangers. Unfortunately for the fish – and other wildlife who live in and around these fresh-water forest streams – people have been drinking much more wine, which means more grapes need to be grown, and those grapes need water; lots and lots of water, and almost all of it during the dry summer season when there’s usually less water to go around. So, after nine years of study, scientists have found only about 30 percent of the young fish counted in June survived to grow and move to the ocean at the end of the summer. Without the steady and reliable levels of water in the streams, there was no where else for the small fish to go. To be certain the impact on the fish was directly because of the amount of water available, and not some other reason, scientists noted that many more fish survived during years with more rainfall, and in areas where there are fewer vineyards that take stream water.

California Drought 2009 NOAA

This is NOT what is meant by a ‘dry wine’

Without the streams and rivers these fish have depended on for thousands of years, the fish won’t survive and already they are threatened in much of their environment. While scientists can’t make more water (but there’s probably someone working on that!), they do know the fish populations can be saved with smart thinking, planning, and attention on water management so there’s enough for the fish and other species of the natural environment, and enough for the vineyards. By reducing water waste, storing water for future use, and protecting stream watersheds during their most challenging dry-summer times, it should be possible for the fish to live and grow, and wine-lovers to enjoy a glass-o’-the grape with their meals.

Please select from our daily catch of additional information:

http://www.water.ca.gov/wateruseefficiency/agricultural/

http://www.usawaterquality.org/themes/conservation/default.html

http://www.ag.ndsu.edu/pubs/ansci/wildlife/wl1000-1.htm

 


Posted June 24, 2012 by ECOVIA eco-adventure® in SciSun

Tagged with , , , , ,

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