Marine Environment Changes May Be Affecting Salmonid Survival
There is increasing evidence that changes in the Salish Sea marine environment may be significantly affecting the overall survival of salmon. The smolt-to-adult survival (largely, the period when they are in the marine environment) for many stocks of coho and Chinook, which enter the Salish Sea from mid-spring through early summer and can utilize the Salish Sea for a significant period of time, has declined, in some cases to less than one tenth of the levels that existed in the 1970’s and 80’s.
The Puget Sound steelhead population has also declined significantly, with evidence that mortality in the Salish Sea marine environment is playing a role. Conversely, many pink and some chum salmon populations, which enter the Salish Sea in late winter to early spring, are thriving and sockeye populations have been highly variable, perplexing scientists who work to predict their return for harvest management.
Identifying the Causes of Salmon Decline in the Salish Sea
Long Live the Kings (LLTK) and project partner Pacific Salmon Foundation (PSF) of Canada are working with scientists, managers and funders from the public and private sectors to facilitate the development of a joint US/Canada research effort aimed at better understanding the causes of salmonid decline in the Salish Sea. The Salish Sea Marine Survival Project will utilize intellectual and capital resources from both countries to evaluate salmon and steelhead decline in an ecosystem context, and in order to:
• Improve harvest, hatchery and habitat management
• Increase sustainable fishing opportunities
• Speed wild, ESA-listed salmon and southern resident killer whale recovery efforts
• Identify possible environmental problems in the Salish Sea and how they affect multiple ecosystem components
An International Research Partnership
LLTK, in partnership with PSF, will facilitate development of the transboundary research effort, create funding mechanisms in the US and Canada to support needed research, help manage collaborative research activities, establish and maintain outreach and communications for the project, and help translate research results into management actions.
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