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Salmon Sustainability

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Earth and Environmental Sciences
Main Image
Earth and Environmental Sciences
Activity Language
Time Needed for Activity

Students will learn about the habitat and lifecycle of Pacific salmon, the effects of climate change on salmon populations and the importance of sustainable fishing practices.

This workshop discusses topics, which can lead to feelings of eco-anxiety among volunteers, educators and youth if not presented in a thoughtful manner. The most important things to remember are to be honest, hopeful, developmentally appropriate, and action oriented. This workshop was created with these guidelines in mind. For more details, refer to the volunteer resource, Being Conscious of Eco-Anxiety.

What You Need

Introduction, Activity #1 , #3 & #4 

  • PowerPoint Presentation (or copies of printed slides if PowerPoint is unavailable)

Activity #2 & Activity #5

  • PowerPoint Presentation (or copies of printed slides if PowerPoint is unavailable)
  • Foam ocean cut-outs (1 per group of 4 students)
  • Paper fish (8 per group to begin with, approx. 150 pieces total) or counters
  • Play LTS money (or Tracking Sheet)

Wrap- Up 

  • PowerPoint Presentation (or copies of printed slides if PowerPoint is unavailable)
  • Jenga Salmon Shadow Food Chain Tower (optional)
  • Playing cards (optional)

Guide:

PowerPoint:

What To Do

Activity #1: What do we know about Pacific salmon?

  • As a group, discuss what students already know about Pacific salmon.
  • Go through the PowerPoint presentation [slides 2 – 10]. Have students answer the following questions:
    • Are salmon important to you and your community? If so, how?
    • Can you name any Pacific salmon species?
    • What do you know about Pacific salmon lifestyle or habitat?
    • What is climate change?
    • What causes global warming?
    • How does climate change affect Pacific salmon populations?

Activity #2: Fishing Simulation 1

  • Instruct students to get into groups of four.
  • Have each group send one member to pick up the salmon population (8 paper fish) and the ocean cutout.
  • Have the students sit together with the ocean and fish on a table or desk that all group members can reach.
    • You may take as many fish as you want each turn. Take turns going clockwise around the group – select the person with the closest birthday to go first.
    • Once you take a fish out of the ocean, you cannot put it back.
    • At the end of each round (after each group member has had a turn), the number of fish left in the ocean will be doubled.
    • At the end of the game, you can trade in your fish for money (1 fish = $20)
    • You are not allowed to talk to your group members.
    • Keep playing until you are told to stop.
  • Keep the groups moving at the same pace so that the oceans can be “replenished” after each round. Do not have groups go to the next round until they all have their oceans refilled.
  • Let the groups play for four or five rounds, but DO NOT tell them how many rounds they will be playing.
  • Stop the game and then discuss as a class.
    • How many fish are left in your ocean?
    • Who in your group has the most fish?
    • Who has the most fish in the class?
  • Have each group come up and trade in their fish for money.
    • Which group made the most money as a group?
    • Were the groups that made the most money the same groups that had the individuals that made the most money?
    • What happened to the salmon population?

Note: Do not discuss why the outcomes are what they are at this point! This will be discussed later!

  • Collect the play money from each group.

Activity #3: Examples of Overfishing

Discuss the following questions [slides 12-13]:

  • What does "overfishing" mean?
    • A good example of overfishing is the overfishing of sharks for their fins. Almost 100 million sharks are killed each year, many of which are killed for their fins, which are used in shark fin soup. There are not enough sharks left to reproduce and sustain the population.
  • What does this mean for salmon populations? 

Activity #4: The Three E’s – Environment, Economy & Equity

  • Write the words “Environment,” “Economy” and “Equity” on the board.
  • Brainstorm ideas related to each. Record these on the board near the words.
    • How do these three words relate to the idea of sustainable fishing?
    • What are some ideas on sustainable fishing practices to protect these Pacific salmon populations?

Activity #5: Fishing Simulation 2

We are going to play the salmon fishing game again, but this time you can come up with a system/strategy for the game while you play, keeping in mind the idea of sustainable development.

  • The same rules apply, but you can talk to your group members during the game.
  • At the end of the game, ask the following questions:
    • How many fish are left in your ocean?
    • Who in your group has the most fish?
    • Who has the most fish in the class?
  • Have each group come up and trade in the fish for money.
    • Which group made the most money as a group?
    • Were the groups that made the most money the same groups that made the most money last time?
    • What did you do differently this time?
    • Did you make as much money? Why or why not?

Discovery

Fishing Simulation #1 replicates what happens when there are no laws or regulations regarding fishing numbers in a season. When a large quantity of fish is harvested from a population, it lowers the amount of fish that are able to reproduce for the following seasons. Without being able to communicate within their groups, it is difficult for students to know if they are overfishing.

Fishing Simulation #2 replicates what happens to a fish population when there are regulations on the amount of fish that can be harvested in a season. By communicating with each other, each group is able to adjust the regulations to respect the needs of the environment and economy in an equitable way.

Respecting the environment can help the entire ecosystem. By ensuring that salmon have clean water/habitat, access to spawning rivers, plenty of food, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and by practicing sustainable fishing, we stabilize the food web. This ensures that there is enough food for animals and humans, and protects the fishing industry from economic hardship.

  • Time permitting, volunteers may choose to play the “Salmon Shadow” Food Chain Tower Activity (see activity guide), which demonstrates the importance of salmon as a keystone species in the ecosystem.
  • Alternatively, volunteers may choose to play the Food Web Jenga - Climate Extension game. This game demonstrates the importance of food webs and how climate change can disrupt them.

What's Happening?

Fishing Simulation #1 replicates what happens when there are no laws or regulations regarding fishing numbers in a season. When a large quantity of fish is harvested from a population, it lowers the amount of fish that are able to reproduce for the following seasons. Without being able to communicate within their groups, it is difficult for students to know if they are overfishing.

Fishing Simulation #2 replicates what happens to a fish population when there are regulations on the amount of fish that can be harvested in a season. By communicating with each other, each group is able to adjust the regulations to respect the needs of the environment and economy in an equitable way.

Why Does It Matter?

Respecting the environment can help the entire ecosystem. By ensuring that salmon have clean water/habitat, access to spawning rivers, plenty of food, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and by practicing sustainable fishing, we stabilize the food web. This ensures that there is enough food for animals and humans, and protects the fishing industry from economic hardship.

Investigate Further

  • Time permitting, volunteers may choose to play the “Salmon Shadow” Food Chain Tower Activity (see activity guide), which demonstrates the importance of salmon as a keystone species in the ecosystem.
  • Alternatively, volunteers may choose to play the Food Web Jenga - Climate Extension game. This game demonstrates the importance of food webs and how climate change can disrupt them.