Oregon Coastal Coho — Still “Endangered”

According to OregonLive, June 17,

NOAA Fisheries said today it would keep Oregon coast coho salmon listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act despite relatively high returns of the fish in recent years.

“The federal government’s decision to reaffirm the 2008 listing comes as a blow to Oregon, which favored a state-federal partnership to rebuild coastal coho runs without the ESA’s more rigid oversight.

“Wild coastal coho returns hit 262,000 in 2009, the highest in at least two decades of counting.

“But the fisheries service concluded the fish are still at a moderate risk of extinction. Recent returns were boosted by favorable ocean conditions, federal biologists said, and are at about 10 percent of their estimated historical levels.

“Significant reductions in fishing and hatchery releases have helped improve prospects for coho, federal biologists said.

“But key fish habitat, hit by logging, agriculture and urban development, remains ‘severely degraded.’

“Global warming will also lead to warmer streams and lakes if predictions pan out, the biologists said, a problem for the cold-water fish and a boon to non-native predators such as bass.

“The species was listed as threatened between 1998 and 2004, then was taken off the list in 2006 when NOAA Fisheries ruled that the coho are ‘not likely to become endangered’ in the foreseeable future.”

Let’s take a look at Oregon temperature trends in recent years (from the National Climatic Data Center — annual mean temperatures statewide). The trend since 1995 is -.41 degrees F per decade. Oregon is certainly not warming (at least in the last 15 years).

And what about juvenile Coho returns?

The chart below is from
Juvenile Salmonid Monitoring in Coastal Oregon and Lower Columbia Streams, 2010
Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife

I’m not a fish guy, but the trends don’t seem alarming!

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