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Ecology and salmon related articles

Maps of the Six Species of Salmon

by Ecotrust 1999

Chinook Runs Chinook
Chinook runs have been increasing throughout Alaska. Commercial harvests are relatively high, though not as high as in the late 1970s and 1980s.

In much of British Columbia, escapement (the number of fish arriving at the spawning grounds) is declining, and seventeen stocks have been identified as extinct. On the Fraser River, however, escapement has been increasing, largely due to conservation measures initiated in the early 1980s.

Coastal stocks in Washington are listed as healthy, while Puget Sound stocks are declining, and five stocks are currently in critical condition. Along the Oregon coast, fall chinook runs are relatively stable except for declining runs in the southern region a trend that continues down the California coast.

Large populations of chinook salmon once inhabited the drier interior regions, including the upper Columbia, Snake, and Sacramento-San Joaquin rivers. The majority of these runs are now extinct, while others are listed under the federal Endangered Species Act.

Chum Runs Chum
Catch levels of Alaskan chum are high, though they have been declining since the record commercial catch of 13 million fish in 1984. Hatchery fish make up an increasing share of the commercial catch, amounting to more than one in four fish.f the 1,625 stocks identified in British Columbia, 141 (9 percent) were at high risk of extinction, and twelve stocks showed moderate risk. Most of the imperiled stocks occur in the Nass River, followed by basins on the north coast, Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands), and the central coast. Of twenty-two chum stocks extinct in the province, seventeen had been found in the Vancouver area. Most Washington chum runs are healthy, with the exception of two Puget Sound stocks in critical condition and lower Columbia River populations, which are declining. Chum are in critical condition in Oregon, where many populations are already extinct. Few chum remain in California.

Coho Runs Coho
Data on coho in Alaska are sparse, except in the south-central part of the state. In general, escapement is increasing throughout the state, with the exception of southeast Alaska. In recent years, Alaska has seen record commercial catches of coho.

In British Columbia, coho runs are declining. By 1992, escapement had reached the lowest levels since the 1950s. On the Fraser River, coho have shown the most dramatic decline (by a factor of eight) of any of the species of salmon. Conservation measures put in place to protect coho have curtailed the B.C. commercial fishery and led to controversy over how many B.C.-bound salmon are intercepted by Alaskan fishing boats.

Most stocks along the Washington coast and in Puget Sound are rated as healthy. However, sixteen out of forty-six Puget Sound stocks were listed as depressed, and one was listed in critical condition.

Coho were once widespread throughout the Pacific Northwest and northern California. Now they are extinct in more than half of their historical range - in the upper Columbia and inland basins of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and California. Nearly all remaining coho runs in Oregon and California are very small. Juvenile coho stay in fresh water for a year or longer, making them particularly vulnerable to the disruption of stream.

Pink Runs Pink
In Alaska, catches of pink salmon have reached record levels, and escapement has been increasing as well. More than a quarter of the commercial catch in Alaska is the product of hatcheries.

On the Fraser River, escapement by pinks has risen from less than 1 million at the beginning of the 1990s to more than 3 million today. For comparison, historic runs averaged 50 million fish. Pink salmon populations have also increased in other basins throughout British Columbia. In Washington, nine out of fourteen Puget Sound pink stocks are considered healthy, while two are in critical condition. One run, on the Elwha River, is considered extinctSelf-sustaining populations of pink salmon apparently never occurred in Oregon. All California pink runs have become extinct.

Sockeye Runs Sockeye
Alaskan sockeye runs have varied in recent years, with the Bristol Bay run failing far short of expectations in 1997 and 1998, and rebounding in 1999. Trends of escapement have increased elsewhere in the state, except in southeast Alaska.

In British Columbia's Fraser River, sockeye escapements have risen in the past decade from 1.5 to 2 million fish - a figure that pales next to historic runs that may have reached 100 million fish. Sockeye numbers elsewhere in the province have also increased in recent years.

Runs of sockeye in the Columbia and Snake rivers are severely depleted or have been completely destroyed. Puget Sound sockeye declined in the 1990s, although a few runs have rebounded in response to restoration efforts. On the Washington coast, one run is healthy while others are at risk.

With the exception of a few sockeye that return to the Deschutes River in Oregon, there are no longer self-sustaining populations of sockeye in Oregon or California.

Steelhead Runs Steelhead
Data on Alaskan steelhead stocks are very sparse. Only two out of 336 identified stocks were well enough documented that their status could be evaluated. Both appeared to be stable.

About 40 percent of steelhead stocks in British Columbia are of special concern or at risk of extinction.

The health of stocks in Washington varies. Winter and summer steelhead populations in Puget Sound have declined, primarily due to habitat damage. With a few exceptions, coastal stocks appear to be healthy. Stocks that once inhabited the upper Columbia, Spokane and Pend Oreille rivers are now extinct.

Stocks along the Oregon and California coasts are in critical condition, with escapements declining. These declines have been attributed to poor ocean conditions, predation, habitat damage, and widespread operation of hatcheries.

In the southern and inland portions of the steelhead's range, its situation is the most dire. Stocks in the interior basins of Oregon and California have become extinct largely due to dams, water diversion, and habitat damage.

Maps of the Six Species of Salmon
excerpt from Salmon Nation, 1999

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