This Recovery Plan links threats and management actions to an active research program to fill data…
About the Species
Eulachon are an anadromous (moving between freshwater and saltwater) smelt in the family Osmeridae. The binomial species name is derived from Greek roots; thaleia meaning rich, ichthys meaning fish, and pacificus meaning of the Pacific.
Eulachon are found from northern California to southwest Alaska. The southern distinct population segment (DPS) is listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.
Eulachon have many other names—smelt, hooligan, oolichan, and fathom fish. First Nations people called eulachon "salvation" fish because the return of spawning runs to coastal rivers meant the difference between life and starvation after a hard winter. Native people continue to fish for eulachon by traditional methods for use as an important subsistence food and medicine.
Adult eulachon typically spawn at age 2-5 years in the lower portions of rivers. Many rivers within the range of eulachon have consistent yearly spawning runs; however, eulachon may appear in other rivers only on an irregular or occasional basis. The spawning migration usually occurs between December and June.
NOAA Fisheries is committed to conserving and protecting eulachon. Our scientists and partners use a variety of innovative techniques to study, learn more about, and protect this species.
- Southern DPS
Behavior and Diet
Where They Live
Lifespan & Reproduction
In the Spotlight
Recovery Planning and Implementation
September 2017: Final Recovery Plan for the Southern distinct population segment (DPS) of Eulachon (PDF, 132 pages).
October 20, 2016: Draft Eulachon Recovery Plan (PDF, 120 pages).
June 21, 2013: Recovery Plan Outline for the Southern DPS of Eulachon (PDF, 27 pages).
NOAA Fisheries listed the southern DPS of Pacific eulachon as threatened under the ESA in 2010 and designated critical habitat in 2011.
Though the designation applies only to eulachon, this critical habitat will provide benefits to other listed species, including salmon, steelhead, bull trout, and green sturgeon.
The designation covers 16 creeks and rivers within Washington, Oregon, and California. The total number of stream miles included in this designation is 335 (539 km). The Federal Register notice has information describing specific creeks and rivers (including latitude and longitude identifiers) and maps of the areas designated.
The ESA gives the Secretary of Commerce discretion to exclude areas from designation if he determines that the benefits of exclusion outweigh the benefits of designation. We have excluded areas that overlap with Native American tribal lands. These areas are excluded because of the unique trust relationship between tribes and the federal government, the federal emphasis on respect for tribal sovereignty and self-governance, and the importance of tribal participation in numerous activities aimed at conserving eulachon. These exclusions consist of portions of the Klamath, Quinault, and Elwha Rivers in California and Washington.
- News release
- Designation of Critical Habitat for Southern DPS of Eulachon
- Eulachon critical habitat maps and GIS data
- References for eulachon critical habitat (PDF, 12 pages)
The analysis supporting the final rule is explained in detail in several accompanying documents. They include:
- A biological report describing how we mapped fish distribution, determined which areas meet the definition of critical habitat, and rated the conservation value of different areas: Critical Habitat for the Southern Distinct Population Segment of Eulachon: Biological Report (PDF, 59 pages).
- An economics report describing how we estimated the economic impact of this proposal on different areas: Economic Analysis of Critical Habitat for the Southern Distinct Population Segment of Eulachon (PDF, 103 pages).
- A report describing how we weighed the benefits of exclusion versus the benefits of designation, to recommend the exclusion of particular areas: Designation of Critical Habitat for the Southern Distinct Population Segment of Eulachon: Section 4(b)(2) Report (PDF, 42 pages).
Studies of Eulachon Smelt in OR and WA, 2014 (PDF, 168 pages)
- September 2014 Eulachon Newsletter (PDF, 2 pages)
- December 2014 Eulachon Newsletter (PDF, 3 pages)
- July 2015 Eulachon Newsletter (PDF, 2 pages)
- December 2015 Eulachon Newsletter (PDF, 3 pages)
- ESA Listing Status Threatened
- Endangered and Threatened Wildlife; Final Rule to Revise the Code of Federal Regulations for Species under the Jurisdiction of the National Marine Fisheries Service
- 2016 5-Year Review Summary and Evaluation
- 2016 Status Review Update (PDF, 121 pages)
- 2010 Eulachon Status Review
- 2008 Eulachon Status Review (PDF, 229 pages)