Species in the Spotlight: Priority Actions 2021-2025, Sacramento River Winter-Run Chinook Salmon
The Species in the Spotlight initiative is a concerted agency-wide effort to spotlight and save marine species most at-risk of extinction. This plan focuses on priority actions needed in 2021-2025 for Sacramento River winter-run Chinook salmon.
In 2015, NOAA Fisheries launched the Species in the Spotlight initiative to provide immediate, targeted efforts to halt declines and stabilize populations of the species most at-risk of extinction in the near future. The priority action plans are part of a strategy to focus resources within and outside of NOAA, guide agency actions where we have discretion to make investments, increase public awareness and support for these species, and expand partnerships. The 2021-2025 Priority Action Plans outline actions that are needed in the next 5 years to address the most urgent threats to the species.
The Sacramento River winter-run Chinook salmon evolutionarily significant unit is one of the most at-risk endangered species because it is composed of just one small population that is a mere fraction of its historical size. The earliest abundance data for this population is from the late 1960s, when the population size was estimated at up to 117,000 adults. Most recently, from 2010 to 2019, the combined abundance of natural- and hatchery-origin spawning winter-run Chinook salmon adults ranged from a low of 827 in 2011 to a high of 8,128 in 2019, with an average of 3,092. The 2012-2016 drought had a biologically significant effect on the abundance of natural-origin spawners; only 153 adults returned in 2017, the lowest level of natural-origin spawners on record, and 461 returned in 2018.