Accelerating Salmon Recovery by Coordinating Efforts and Prioritizing Actions

Puget Sound salmon recovery work is the cornerstone of broader Puget Sound recovery efforts, and abundant wild Chinook salmon populations are vital to this effort. The largest of the salmon species, Chinook salmon, are culturally significant and an important economic resource for Puget Sound tribes, a favorite food of southern resident orcas, and highly prized by the recreation and commercial fishing industry. A variety of pressures–including urbanization and human population growth, agriculture, dams, stormwater pollution, harvest, and hatcheries–have reduced Puget Sound Chinook populations to one-third of their early-1900s numbers. Without a significant reversal in these trends, along with increased habitat protection efforts, Puget Sound Chinook are unlikely to recover.

Many of the restoration actions in Puget Sound have been effective even though the region is not seeing significant increases in the number of Chinook salmon. We know what is needed to restore salmon populations in Puget Sound, but many of the same challenges noted when the Puget Sound salmon recovery plan was developed in 2005. persist In addition, emerging challenges–including climate change, balancing the needs of a growing human population, and early marine survival–also require consideration and integration into recovery efforts.

Recovering the health of Puget Sound and listed species depends on a continued collaborative effort between state and federal agencies, tribal governments, local governments, business and environmental groups, and many others. Such a complex and huge undertaking demands thoughtful and evolving strategic approaches that align diverse efforts across the region, a leveraging of limited resources to maximize gains, and a push for an infusion of additional resources and collaboration to continue to protect and restore these critical habitats for salmon.

Background: Salmon recovery in Washington is driven by regional salmon recovery plans. The recovery plans provide the actions and rationale for where to invest and when. Each region reports on the actions implemented related to what is recommended in the regional recovery plan. The information about recovery plan implementation is grounded in the regional organizations’ extensive knowledge of recovery issues and recovery progress.