During the last decades of the 20th century, large closures to commercial salmon fisheries jeopardized industry and community vitality. Such lengthy closures could be avoided if up-to-the-moment data were available to distinguish stocks at sea. Through the Collaborative Research on Oregon Ocean Salmon project, AES researchers used genetic fingerprints to determine locations of weak and healthy stocks. They found patterns suggesting that fish from certain rivers move in “pulses” through the ocean. This kind of real-time tracking has helped fisheries managers direct fishing toward robust populations of salmon and away from endangered stocks.
Extension and AES faculty worked with fishery managers to train Oregon and California fishermen in new data-collection methods, including first-ever catch-and-release methods in closed areas, to record the location of salmon at sea.