The NPSRP impacts multiple interest groups and as a management practice may meet conflicting interest among these groups. Considering the ethics of the NPSRP is important because it may help fisheries managers recognize what the best management methods are. The NPSRP should be evaluated from the three viewpoints involved: northern pikeminnow, salmon, and human perspectives to determine if the program overall is ethical.
A Northern Pikeminnow Perspective
Figure 15. Mound of removed Northern Pikeminnnow.
The NPSRP may be unethical from the northern pikeminnow perspective for the following reasons.
- It fails to address the actual causes of salmonid declines: over harvest (Raymond 1988) and dams that alter salmon habitat (Chapman 1986; Lichatowich 1999). The responsibility of salmon population decline is deflected to salmon predators and result in management plans like the NPSRP.
- It is a large scale removal method unequal to methods used to manage other predators of juvenile salmonids other species are known to also prey upon juvenile salmons as well and do not receive equal treatment. For example, Caspian Terns (Roby and Collis 2011), Double-crested Cormorants and gulls receive minimal management attention and often only consider non-lethal methods.
- The management is focused on the removal of a native species that has adapted to the habitat alterations made by humans. Dams provide favorable hunting habitats for northern pikminnow which they benefit from because they prey on the disoriented juveniles near the dams (Poe and Rieman 1988). A management plan that discourages one native species for adapting to anthropogenic habitat alterations in order to preserve another that has not adapted as well is an unethical practice.
A Salmonid Perspective
Figure 16. Spawing Sockeye salmon.
For the best interest of salmon, the NPSRP might be an ethically acceptable management plan.
- Without management, salmon populations may continue to decline, reducing the nutrient input to river ecosystems and reducing biodiversity (Bibly et al. 1996; Bilby et al. 1998; Gende et al. 2002; Larkin and Slaney 1997; Wipfli et al. 1998).
- Some methods are not realistic options and has low expectations for salmon recovery, such as habitat restoration, so management must turn to the next available options ethical for salmon restoration (Lichatowich et al. 1995).
A Human Perspective
Figure 17. Salmon fishermen.
From a human perspective the NPSRP may be an ethically acceptable management practice to preserve salmonid populations that society depends on economically and culturally.
- Salmon harvest is an important source of revenue in the Pacific Northwest with an estimated mean annual economic contribution from salmon for the Pacific Northwest to be $3,431,697 from 2005 – 2007 (The Research Group 2009).
- The mean annual number of jobs created by the salmon industry in the Pacific Northwest to be 45,463 (The Research Group 2009).
- Salmon also are an important cultural contribution to the Pacific Northwest and the NPSRP directly helps to conserve the cultural heritage (Lichatowich 1999).
Points to Consider
After considering the NPSRP from the ethical viewpoints of the three groups involved: Northern pikeminnow, salmon, and humans, it can be argued that the program is not equally ethical. From the salmon and human point of view the program is an ethical management practice, however from the Northern Pikeminnow perspective it can be considered unethical. It is unethical greatly because the program targets a native species that has thrived in the altered habitat created by dams and instead of addressing the cause of salmon decline (overharvesting and dam construction) the focus is redirected to Northern pikeminnow predation. We believe that it would be unethical to consider the program from only one or two of the ethical perspective. Instead, the NPSRP should be considered from all three perspectives. Since the ethics for each species differ in their support or opposition of the program, the program objectives should be a compromise among the different species ethics.