The size of the Oregon coastal salmon runs in the mid-1800s Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/3r074x21m

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  • Abstract.- Increasing the abundance of salmon in coastal Oregon rivers and streams is a high priority public policy objective. Salmon runs have been reduced from pre-development conditions (typically defined as the 1 850s), but it is unclear by how much. Considerable resources have been allocated to restoring salmon runs, but it is uncertain what the current recovery potential is because much of the freshwater and estuarine habitat for salmon has been altered. The goals of all recovery efforts are based on assumptions, often unstated, for what the size if the runs were prior to significant habitat alteration, coupled with an estimate of the amount and quality of freshwater and estuarine habitat currently available. At one extreme, it may be that current run sizes reflect the recovery potential of the existing salmon habitat. At the other extreme, the recovery potential may be as high as the mid 1800 levels. Historical salmon runs sizes on the Oregon coast were estimated using two methods: (1) Converting aboriginal population levels and their salmon consumption rate into numbers of salmon; (2) Extrapolating cannery pack into numbers of salmon. Annual aboriginal harvest of all salmon species is estimated to have been approximately 10 million pounds/year or between 1.75 million and 5.36 million salmonids, a harvest level similar to that occurring during the height of commercial fishing on Oregon's coastal rivers in the late 1 800s and early 1 900s. Extrapolating cannery pack data, the estimated size of the late 1 800s aggregate runs of coho (Oncorhynchus kisutch) was 1.5-2.5 million. The estimated size of aggregate runs of chinook (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) runs was 290,000-517,000. Compared to mid 1 800s coho estimates, current runs (during favorable ocean conditions), are 11-19%. During poor ocean conditions, current coho runs are 3-6% of the historical size.
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