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  • Snake River Sockeye Salmon captive propagation


Northwest Fisheries Science Center (NWFSC) Environmental and Fisheries Sciences EFS - Fisheries Enhancement and Conservation


Redfish Sockeye
Snake River Sockeye Salmon captive propagation
This project is an interagency collaborative effort for the recovery of the last population of anadromous Sockeye Salmon in the Snake River Basin (280,000 km2). Initially a gene rescue effort, the project now uses its unique large-scale fresh and seawater facilities to produce fish and eggs for use in recovery actions. Over the course of 29 years the project has developed specialized technology for the full life cycle captive culture of anadromous salmonids. Project advancements are presented in annual reports, journal articles, book chapters, technical memorandums and oral presentations. These advancements have guided conservation efforts for anadromous salmonids regionally and throughout the nation. FY 2022 research examines the effect of direct versus gradual seawater acclimation on growth, survival and reproduction. The project will maintain five brood years in culture and produce 1,300 adults and over 400,000 eyed eggs for use in recovery actions during FY 2022. This work conforms to national legislative mandates and meets the goals and objectives of NOAA guidance documents. It fulfills interagency regional plans and is specifically called for in NOAA Columbia River Biological Opinions and the Snake River Sockeye Salmon Recovery Plan. Funding for this ESA recovery project’s facilities and staff time is provided by the Bonneville Power Administration. Discontinuation of this project would negatively impact national, state and tribal efforts to recover this ESU.

Data Sets

Research Themes

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

Evaluate the effects of artificial propagation on recovery, rebuilding and sustainability of marine and anadromous species
Artificial propagation has the potential to provide benefits both to species recovery and to seafood sustainability. Artificial propagation also poses risks to wild species and ecosystems. In the past, the use of artificial propagation has been an important risk factor for several threatened and endangered species, particularly Pacific salmon. Assessing the effects of artificial propagation is complicated by the fact that programs vary widely in size, rearing practices, and goals. The NWFSC conducts critical research on the influence of artificial propagation on population dynamics, growth rate, ecology of infectious disease, and the evolutionary fitness of wild fish and other marine organisms. Results of this research are needed to support the recovery of fish populations and have been especially valuable in providing critical information for recent, larger scale habitat restoration activities such as the Elwha Dam removal. NWFSC will continue to conduct science that informs the discussion about whether to allow fish to recolonize naturally after barrier removal, or to supplement populations with hatchery fish and on the impacts of aquaculture on fishing pressure and practices, and on the surrounding environment and ecosystem.


Artificial Propagation
Salmonid recovery
Snake River
research area
captive broodstocks
fish used for mating that have been produced in the hatchery


Adult Snake River Sockeye Salmon for release in Recovery Actions
Some of the Project's maturing sockeye salmon (0-500) will be shipped to Idaho for release into Stanley Basin Lakes. These fish will be allowed to spawn on their own. This is an action called for in the Snake River Sockeye Salmon Recovery Plan
An annual report on project activities will be submitted to the Bonneville Power Administration
A report on project facility, fish culture and spawning activities will be submitted to the Bonneville Power Administration. The report will be published and available online through the Bonneville Power Administration.
Ongoing captive rearing of Broodyear 2015-2020 Snake River Sockeye Salmon.
All year long the project will continue to provide freshwater and seawater rearing of multiple broodyears of Snake River Sockeye Salmon. These ESA-listed fish will provide a safety net in the event no fish return from the sea and provide fish for use in recovery actions called for in the Snake River Sockeye Salmon Recovery Plan.
Produce Snake River Sockeye Salmon eyed eggs for use in recovery actions.
When the Snake River Sockeye Salmon eggs incubating at Burley Creek Hatchery reach the eyed stage they will be packaged and shipped to the Idaho Department of Fish and Game Springfield Hatchery. These eyed eggs will be incorporated into a production program that is generating smolts for release to Recover the ESA listed population.
Refine techniques for captive rearing and spawning.
Throughout the year the project will continue to develop and test fish culture techniques that improve fish survival, fecundity, and egg quality.
Spawn Snake River Sockeye Salmon to produce fertilized eggs for use in Recovery Actions.
Most of the Project's maturing Sockeye Salmon (500-1,200)will be spawned at Burley Creek Hatchery. The resulting fertilized eggs will be incubated to the eyed stage at this facility.
The project will collect data on the growth, survival, maturation age, fecundity, and egg weight of Snake River Sockeye Salmon maintained in captivitiy.
The project will add another year to a multiyear data set on the growth, survival, maturation age, fecundity and egg size of fish maintained and spawned in the program.


Species Oncorhynchus nerka
kokanee, red salmon, sockeye salmon


Alyssa Mische
Barry Berejikian
Program Manager
Brad Gadberry
Bryon Kluver
Deborah Frost
Desmond Maynard
Principal Investigator
Desmond Maynard
Principal Investigator