Chinook Salmon Research Initiative
Chinook (king) salmon have been returning in fewer numbers to many Alaska rivers, requiring painful restrictions on fisheries that harvest these stocks. Widespread shortfalls became apparent during the 2007 fishing season, but scientists date the onset of the declines with the poor survivals of the offspring from 2001. Chinook salmon have a life span of 3 to 8 years, with 5 and 6 year olds being especially important to the health of a Chinook salmon population.
In October of 2012, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) hosted a research symposium to “identify key knowledge gaps and assemble a list of research priorities” to better understand the factors affecting Chinook salmon abundance in Alaska.
Following this symposium, a team of ADF&G scientists and biologists, in collaboration with federal agencies and academic partners, developed a research plan with recommended studies to address the questions identified in the gap analysis. The first phase in the implementation of this plan was funded by the Alaska Legislature during its 2013 session. The core of the plan is stock specific, life history-based research focused on 12 indicator stocks from across Alaska. For more information see the Chinook Salmon Stock Assessment and Research Plan
This research will cover multiple years and produce a large body of findings and reports. Research efforts fall into four general categories.
- Stock assessment programs targeting specific knowledge gaps on individual, indicator stocks.
- Compilation of local and traditional knowledge regarding Chinook salmon trends in abundance, distribution, and physical appearance.
- Research on juvenile Chinook salmon in the near shore marine environment, which is thought to be a critical life history stage, and one little studied.
- Life history process studies intended to examine a range of environmental factors affecting Chinook salmon growth and productivity.
The department recognizes the Alaskan public has a keen interest in the Chinook salmon research being conducted and ADF&G has developed this special section of its website, where information will be provided about the Chinook Salmon Research Initiative. The Chinook Salmon Initiative section of the website will change as new information is added and you may want to bookmark this section of the website so you can return to it easily to check for new information.