Kirkus Reviews QR Code
KING OF FISH by David R. Montgomery

KING OF FISH

The Thousand-Year Run of Salmon

By David R. Montgomery

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2003
ISBN: 0-8133-4147-7

Wild salmon may be headed for the Land of the Dodo, argues Montgomery (Geomorphology/Univ. of Washington), unless obvious measures are taken to protect and restore their environment.

As humans go about changing the face of the earth, some species are bound to suffer. Salmon, the King of Fish, Montgomery says in this explicit and urgent, if at times starchy and quite repetitive study, are a case in point. They have been hounded to extinction through over-fishing and, more devastatingly, through habitat change, or, often enough, habitat destruction. So many actions have interfered with salmon reproduction—from damming and gross pollution to the less obvious problems associated with siltation, logjams, rising water temperatures, and sea lions—that this indicator of clean rivers has disappeared from most of Europe and New England and is rapidly diminishing in the Pacific Northwest (where much of Montgomery’s research is centered). The author reviews the historical waters of the fish, its biology and behavior, tenders a short course in fluvial morphology, and details how each of the rivers has been altered to the woe of the salmon. Yet, “actions to stem known causes remain either mired in institutional, corporate, or societal denial, dissipated by spin-doctoring, or thwarted by political agendas and bureaucratic inertia.” Even when “treaties implied that government had a responsibility to preserve salmon runs through habitat protection and land use restrictions,” such protection and restriction have not occurred. Time and again, Montgomery steams, the simple and logical proposals to give the salmon a fighting chance have been too radical for policymakers.

A sorry, scary future for salmon and their ecosystem if this author’s warnings go unheeded. (25 b&w photographs, 2 maps, not seen)