Archived, Siskiyou

Who Was William ‘Bill’ Peterson and Why Do Eco-Terrorists Fear His Salmon Research?

Left to right; Dr. Bill Peterson, Julie Keister, Anders Roestad (front), and three young volunteers. (Photo courtesy Jaime Gómez-Gutiérrez).

Bill Peterson was a leading oceanographic researcher and expert on salmon ecology.

Salmon Decline Linked Mostly to Ocean Conditions…

“The finger of blame for declining runs of Pacific Northwest salmon has been pointed broadly: habitat loss from logging and development, an abundance of predatory sea lions, power-generating dams, terns and other coastal birds that prey on juvenile fish, and over-fishing by commercial and sport fishermen.But no factor is more critical to salmon prosperity than ocean conditions, experts say, and the complex interaction between biologically distinct groups of salmon and changing ocean habitats has created a nightmare for resource managers.”

Science Direct:

“In addition to being an esteemed marine ecologist and oceanographer, William T. (Bill) Peterson was a dedicated public servant, a leader in the ocean science community, and a mentor to a generation of scientists. Bill recognized the importance of applied science and the need for integrated “big science” programs to advance our understanding of ecosystems and to guide their management. As the first US GLOBEC program manager, he was pivotal in transitioning the concept of understanding how climate change impacts marine ecosystems to an operational national research program. The scientific insight and knowledge generated by US GLOBEC informed and advanced the ecosystem-based management approaches now being implemented for fishery management in the US. Bill held significant leadership roles in numerous international efforts to understand global and regional ecological processes, and organized and chaired a number of influential scientific conferences and their proceedings. He was passionate about working with and training young researchers. Bill’s academic affiliations, notably at Stony Brook and Oregon State Universities, enabled him to advise, train, and mentor a host of students, post-doctoral researchers, and laboratory technicians. Under his collegial guidance they became critical independent thinkers and diligent investigators. His former students and colleagues carry on Bill Peterson’s legacy of research that helps us understand marine ecosystems and informs more effective resource stewardship and conservation.”

Journal of Plankton Research


From 1982 to 2015, Bill published 15 comprehensive studies about juvenile salmon and adult returns. He was first interested in juvenile diet (Peterson et al., 1982; Schabetsberger et al., 2003). He continued to characterize the coastal pelagic habitat of salmon (Peterson et al., 2010; Bi et al., 2007; 2011; Ruzicka et al., 2011; Rupp et al., 2012). As a National Marine Fisheries Service scientist, Bill was cognizant that his research endeavors in the California Current must provide value to society (Schwing et al., 2009). Early on, he considered how ocean environmental information could be used to understand the year-to-year variability of commercial fish catches. In fact, his first publication (Peterson, 1973) related upwelling indices with the annual catches of Dungeness crab, Cancer magister. Much later, during the US GLOBEC investigations, and after he had many years of environmental data, he established a web site at the Northwest Fisheries Science Center ( providing forecasts of adult returns of coho and Chinook salmon using relatively simple to measures. The most recent phase of adult salmon return forecasting was development of mathematical models (Miller et al., 2014; Tucker et al., 2015). With colleagues, he developed multivariate models to predict salmon returns (Burke et al., 2013) using 31 indicators of the marine environment collected over an 11-year period. The model summarizes conditions and predicted adult spring Chinook salmon returns to the Columbia River in 2012. In addition to forecasts, this tool quantifies the strength of the relationship between various ecological indicators and salmon returns, allowing interpretation of ecosystem processes. Results suggest that effective management of Pacific salmon requires multiple types of data and that no single indicator can represent the complex early-ocean ecology of salmon.

The honest science published by legitimate scientists has illuminated the simple most important factor in regard to attempting to ‘restore’ salmon on any river, especially the Klamath River.  And it has nothing to do with dams and dam removal.  

The attached PDF presentation by Dr. William ‘Bill’ Peterson makes matters even more clear. 


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