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Effects of Salmon Fisheries on Southern Resident Killer Whales

In July 2018, NOAA Fisheries issued a paper on priority Chinook salmon stocks for Southern Resident killer whales. The following questions and answers provide more information about the priority Chinook salmon stocks.

Southern Resident killer whales are listed as endangered under both the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA) and Canada's Species at Risk Act (SARA). New scientific information and analyses about the Southern Resident killer whale population and the extent of their reliance on salmon - particularly large Chinook salmon - strongly suggest that Chinook salmon abundance is very important to survival and recovery of Southern Resident killer whales. This relationship has potentially serious implications for salmon fisheries and other activities that affect the abundance of Chinook salmon.

We want to review information in a transparent and scientifically rigorous manner. We believe we can best accomplish this in a joint effort with Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) in a process that engages scientists with a broad range of scientific specialties.

Independent Science Panel Workshops

Three workshops were held by NOAA Fisheries and Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) to help implement our respective recovery plans for Southern Resident killer whales. The first workshop was held in Seattle, Washington on September 21-23, 2011 (see the Proceedings from Workshop 1: Participant Discussion and Feedback). The second workshop was held in Vancouver, B.C., on March 13-15, 2012. The third workshop was held in Seattle, Washington on September 18-20, 2012.

Independent Science Panel Documents

On November 30, 2012, we released the Independent Science Panel's final report:

PFMC Ad Hoc Workgroup

At its April 2019 meeting, the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) established a joint workgroup with NOAA Fisheries to help assess the impacts of ocean salmon fisheries on Southern Resident killer whales. The workgroup will consider how fishery impacts might be limited on Chinook salmon stocks that are important to the Southern Resident killer whales.

Priority Chinook Salmon Stocks

NOAA Fisheries and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) have developed a framework to identify Chinook salmon stocks that are important to Southern Resident killer whales to assist in prioritizing actions to increase critical prey for the killer whales.

Last updated by West Coast Regional Office on February 04, 2022