Eight At-Home Ways to Save Local Fisheries and Protect Salmon
When we hear about salmon and steelhead being threatened in different areas, it seems like an impossibly big thing to fix. The proposed solutions to protect salmon often require either a lot of money or a lot of legislation. However, a large number of people making small steps can also do wonders to protect salmon and their habitat. If you live within a watershed of popular fishing sites (or any fishing area), here are eight things you can do to help protect salmon.
Watch Your Water Use
When it comes to basic needs for salmon, water is one of the biggest. Using water-saving plumbing choices like toilets, shower heads and faucet aerators can go a long way. Shorter showers and responsible irrigation are other ways to help keep water levels up.
Rethink Your Soap Choices
If you have the scrubbing microbeads in your soaps, you may want to consider an alternative. These plastic pieces are often brightly colored, and can pass through water treatment filter screens. They get ingested by fish once the treated water is released into larger water bodies, who eat them, thinking they’re eggs. These fish end up starving to death with a belly full of plastic. Also, soaps containing phosphates (usually detergents for clothing) are linked to algal blooms that cause oxygen loss and fish kills. This is a risk if you have a septic tank and a waterfront or streamside property.
Careful Car Washing
Car washes are great, provided they recycle their water. If you go to public car washes (which is the salmon-safe choice because they have the filters necessary to catch the heavy metals and oil residues on your car instead of letting them leak into the ground and nearby streams), ask if they recycle their water. By cleaning and recirculating their own water, they’re not a large drain on the public water system, and leave more water in the streams.
Proper Dump Etiquette
It’s a pain to sort out the toxic items in your trash– chemicals, paints, tires, batteries, etc. However, when the breakdown of dump materials filters its way to streams, you will be grateful that the worst of the chemicals that are a danger to fish and human health are gone. Not sure what’s safe? Read the rules at your local dump’s website.
Avoid Plastic Bags
If you can, try and keep from buying or bringing plastic grocery and other bags near streams. Ziplocks are heavier duty and usually stay full, but the grocery bags blow away easily, and the handles can quickly become toxic food and even nooses for aquatic life.
Plant Shady Trees
The more trees and shrubs along a riverbank nearby, the better habitat is there for the fish. Shade equals cooling, which increases oxygen levels in water. Cover also means extra protection for young fish from birds and other predators.
Planting your yard with native plants instead of ornamentals will create both a food source for local wildlife, as well as a low-maintenance yard for you. Native plants usually don’t need watering (except when first planted).
Chemical fertilizers, particularly those high in phosphorous, can cause algal blooms and fish kills. The algae, when it dies, will require a lot of oxygen to break down, and this leaves none for the fish. Natural mulches and organic fertilizers are usually a better choice, especially if you can see the water from your home. This will go along way to helping protect salmon.