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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
In the early 1990s, Redfish Lake sockeye salmon from the Sawtooth Basin in Idaho were on the brink of extinction, and they were listed as endangered under the US Endangered Species Act in 1991. To prevent extinction, a gene rescue captive broodstock program was established for the stock that consisted of taking most of the remaining gene pool into captive culture at specialized conservation hatcheries at the Manchester Research Station and the Idaho Department of Fish and Game Eagle Hatchery.

Efforts through the decade of the 1990s consisted of developing techniques for successful culture of sockeye salmon to adulthood, establishing rearing and spawning protocols to ensure preservation of stock diversity, and habitat enhancement at the rearing lakes. In the early 2000s, the program began to include a demographic focus to boost the population through rearing and release of enough juveniles to produce some adult returns. For the last few years, NWFSC eyed egg production has resulted in over 150,000 smolts being released into the Stanley basin annually for recovery, with plans to increase NWFSC eyed egg production to support release of half a million smolts in the Stanley Basin by 2017. In 2011, and for the fourth year in a row, record numbers of sockeye adults have returned to their native home in Idaho.

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.


Snake River
research area
artificial propagation
research technique
all salmonids


2013 Annual Report to BPA
Annual Report to BPA on project fish culture, production, and research
Fish and eyed eggs for use in ESA listed Snake River Sockeye Salmon recovery actions
Production of adult fish and eyed eggs that are supplied to IDFG for use in recovery efforts for Snake River Sockeye Salmon


Class Actinopterygii
ray-finned fishes
Family Salmonidae
Genus Oncorhynchus
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Species Oncorhynchus nerka
kokanee, red salmon, sockeye salmon


Bryon Kluver
Deborah Frost
Desmond Maynard
Principal Investigator
James Hackett
Melissa Lomshek
Tom Flagg
William McAuley