Future of Pacific salmon in the face of environmental change: Lessons from one of the world's remaining productive salmon regions

Fisheries
By: , and 

Links

Abstract

Pacific salmon Oncorhynchus spp. face serious challenges from climate and landscape change, particularly in the southern portion of their native range. Conversely, climate warming appears to be allowing salmon to expand northwards into the Arctic. Between these geographic extremes, in the Gulf of Alaska region, salmon are at historically high abundances but face an uncertain future due to rapid environmental change. We examined changes in climate, hydrology, land cover, salmon populations, and fisheries over the past 30–70 years in this region. We focused on the Kenai River, which supports world-famous fisheries but where Chinook Salmon O. tshawytscha populations have declined, raising concerns about their future resilience. The region is warming and experiencing drier summers and wetter autumns. The landscape is also changing, with melting glaciers, wetland loss, wildfires, and human development. This environmental transformation will likely harm some salmon populations while benefiting others. Lowland salmon streams are especially vulnerable, but retreating glaciers may allow production gains in other streams. Some fishing communities harvest a diverse portfolio of fluctuating resources, whereas others have specialized over time, potentially limiting their resilience. Maintaining diverse habitats and salmon runs may allow ecosystems and fisheries to continue to thrive amidst these changes.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Future of Pacific salmon in the face of environmental change: Lessons from one of the world's remaining productive salmon regions
Series title Fisheries
DOI 10.1080/03632415.2017.1374251
Volume 42
Issue 10
Year Published 2017
Language English
Publisher Taylor & Francis
Contributing office(s) Coop Res Unit Seattle
Description 16 p.
First page 538
Last page 553
Country United States
State Alaska