Salmon Abundance

One important way to measure the health of salmon species is by counting the number of adult fish that return from the ocean to spawn in their native rivers.

The interactive chart below shows an evaluation of natural-origin (wild) fish that returned to spawn. It provides a general statewide snapshot of the relative progress towards recovery for at-risk salmon and steelhead in Washington. The chart relies on local knowledge and expertise combined with statistical measures that estimate the number of adult fish returning to their home rivers to spawn. Data source: Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

View the Abundance Dashboard


The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) evaluates attributes that are not shown in this report such as productivity, life history, genetic diversity, and the spatial structure (geographical spread) of the populations. NOAA also considers threats and factors affecting the health of fish including habitat, hydropower, hatchery, and harvest impacts. NOAA’s analysis, called the 5-year biological status review, is the method by which NOAA determines progress towards federal de-listing and recovery. The chart above does not replace NOAA’s status review.

In the abundance dashboard above, each region has several charts that display both adult and juvenile data about the abundance of fish populations. “Adult abundance” represents the number of adult fish returning to spawn (either total number of fish spawning naturally or number of wild-born fish spawning naturally). The type of adult abundance data available and used for evaluation depends on several factors, including the ability to distinguish between hatchery-origin and natural-origin (wild) fish on spawning grounds. In most cases, the fish that are counted toward recovery goals are wild spawners.

The abundance of juvenile (young) salmon is one of several measures that tell scientists about the health and productivity of rivers in Washington State. Some rivers may have more juveniles simply because they are larger, other rivers may have more juveniles because the habitat is better.

The juvenile and adult abundance data is from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. The department tracks juvenile abundance densities to varying degrees across the state.