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  • Collaborative Research on Oregon Ocean Salmon


Northwest Fisheries Science Center (NWFSC) Conservation Biology CB - Mathematical Biology and Systems Monitoring


Collaborative Research on Oregon Ocean Salmon
Goal 1: Improve understanding of salmon ocean ecology by integrating stock-specific distribution patterns over space and time with biological and environmental data.

Goal 2: Integrate multiple disciplines to develop and apply new scientific technology to improve fisheries management strategies across geo-political boundaries.

Goal 3: Improve economic opportunities for fishermen and coastal communities.

The Oregon Salmon Commission, California Salmon Council, and Washington Trollers Association lead the Collaboration. Partners include Oregon Sea Grant, Community Seafood Initiative, Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission, University of California Santa Cruz, Oregon State University, Oregon and Washington Departments of Fish and Wildlife, California and Idaho Departments of Fish and Game, National Marine Fisheries Service Northwest, and Southwest Fisheries Science Centers.

Fishermen sample Chinook salmon at sea. Genetic Stock Identification (GSI) analysis is used to determine stock of origin. Scales are examined to determine age, and other biological and physical data are taken. The purpose is to develop Fishery information system with multiple goals.

The target audience is the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) and Pacific Salmon Commission (PSC) Management, as well as fishermen, scientists, marketers, educators, and the general public. This is a stand-alone project, with one principal point of contact in NMFS. This project is ongoing.

Research Themes

Ecosystem approach to improve management of marine resources
The California Current Large Marine Ecosystem, Puget Sound and the Columbia River Basin are home to a wide range of freshwater and marine resources that provide a wealth of ecosystem goods and services. Ensuring the resiliency and productivity of the California Current and Pacific Northwest ecosystems requires an integrated understanding of their structure, function, and vulnerability to increased human population growth in coastal communities and competing uses of coastal waterways and oceans. The NWFSC‘s approach to understanding these large ecosystems integrates studies across ecosystems (terrestrial, freshwater, and marine) and scientific disciplines to inform resource managers responsible for conserving marine resources.
Recovery and rebuilding of marine and coastal species
The Pacific Northwest is home to several iconic endangered species, including Pacific salmon and killer whales, and several rockfish species. Mandates such as the Endangered Species Act, MagnusonStevens Act, and the Marine Mammal Protection Act, grant NOAA Fisheries the authority to manage the recovery of depleted species and stocks. The NWFSC contributes to species recovery through research, monitoring and analysis, providing NOAA managers and regional stakeholders the tools and information they need to craft effective regulations and develop sustainable plans for recovery.

Research Foci

Describe the relationships between human activities and species recovery, rebuilding and sustainability
Human activities play a major role in determining the status of species and stocks. Rebuilding and recovery therefore need to address how these activities affect their status. At the NWFSC, biophysical modeling is used to link specific human activities such as land use and pollution to habitat conditions, and then to link these conditions and other activities to particular life stages. These models can be used to quantitatively assess how human activities influence species abundance, productivity, distribution and diversity. Not surprisingly, altering human activities in some way is often necessary for species or stock recovery and rebuilding. It is therefore important to understand the socio-economic effects of alternative management structures. Gathering data on their economic costs and social impacts helps identify actions that are cost-effective. These actions will need to be resilient to potential changes in climate throughout the region. Research on how humans react to management strategies helps policy makers avoid those that lead to unintended consequences that can hinder rather than help recovery.
Understand how climate influences ecosystem variability
Effective ecosystem management will require an understanding of how climate variability and climate change will alter riverine, estuarine, and marine habitats and consequently how this will affect ecosystem status, function and recovery. Key research elements include better understanding of historical ecological variability through traditional (i.e., indigenous) sources, exploring the vulnerability of key species and biotic communities to expected habitat changes, including decreasing stream flow, increased flood frequency, increasing stream temperature, sea level rise, ocean acidification, shifts in ocean currents, and changed frequency and extent of deoxygenated zones. A secondary goal is to improve understanding of how ecosystems respond to year-to-year and decadal climate variability. Achieving these research goals will provide NOAA and state and local governments with the knowledge and tools needed to incorporate climate change and variability into management of living marine resources.


aquatic ecosystems
ecological relationships in freshwater ecosystems
bycatch reduction device
device to reduce bycatch of non-target species
climate change
changes in climate
fisheries ecology
relation of fish stocks to ocean habitat


None associated


Class Actinopterygii
ray-finned fishes
Species Oncorhynchus tshawytscha
Chinook salmon, king salmon, spring salmon


Paul Moran
Peter Lawson
Principal Investigator