Species in the Spotlight: Priority Actions 2016-2020, Central California Coast Coho Salmon
In 2015, NOAA Fisheries announced a new program to focus and redouble our efforts to protect eight species that are currently among the most at risk of extinction in the near future. This 5-year action plan focuses on priority actions for Central California Coast coho salmon.
The “Species in the Spotlight: Survive to Thrive” initiative is a concerted agency-wide effort to spotlight and save the most highly at-risk species. This initiative includes targeted efforts vital for stabilizing their populations and preventing their extinction. The approach involves intensive efforts by us and our recovery partners to stabilize these species. Our goal is to reverse their declining trend so that the species will become a candidate for recovery in the future.
Central California Coast coho salmon were first listed as a threatened species in 1996, and subsequently reclassified as endangered in 2005. This unique run of coho salmon, at the southern extent of the species’ range, has teetered on the brink of extinction. All available time series show a continued and significant downward trend, poor adult returns, and an increase in the risk of extinction since 2005. The two exceptions are Russian River and Santa Cruz, California, where recent increases of adults and naturally-spawned young have been observed due to the operation of conservation hatchery programs.
Our recovery strategy for Central California Coast coho salmon outlines the following three priorities: (1) expand conservation hatchery programs to rebuild self-sustaining wild populations as habitats are restored; (2) focus restoration and outreach in priority watersheds; and (3) invest in monitoring and research that supports and informs conservation hatchery programs, restoration, and status assessments.