Lake Ozette Sockeye Salmon
The Lake Ozette sockeye salmon is a threatened species. NOAA Fisheries’ West Coast Region, along with the Science Centers, work to protect and conserve this species under the Endangered Species Act.
ESU Description: This evolutionarily significant unit, or ESU, includes naturally spawned sockeye salmon originating from the Ozette River and Ozette Lake and its tributaries. This ESU also includes sockeye salmon from the Umbrella Creek/Big River Hatchery Program.
Current Population Trends: Lake Ozette Sockeye Salmon ESA Status Reviews and Five-Year Updates
Critical Habitat: Designated September 2, 2005
Protective Regulations: Issued June 28, 2005 (70 FR 37159)
Recovery Plan: Lake Ozette Sockeye Salmon Recovery Plan (2009)
NOAA Fisheries delineated eight recovery domains, or geographic recovery planning areas, for the ESA-listed salmon and steelhead populations on the West Coast. The Lake Ozette Recovery Sub-domain is part of the Washington Coast Recovery Domain and is located on the western rim of Washington's Olympic Peninsula (see map of recovery domains). This sub-domain has one ESA-listed salmon species, Lake Ozette sockeye salmon.
NOAA Fisheries West Coast Region manages recovery planning and implementation for this sub-domain through its Oregon and Washington Coastal Area Office.
Following the 1999 listing of Lake Ozette sockeye salmon as threatened, the Lake Ozette Sockeye Steering Committee (Steering Committee) formed to address the biological and environmental factors impeding the population’s survival. The Steering Committee included local, private, state, tribal, and federal partners, private citizens, and non-governmental organizations. The Steering Committee assisted NOAA Fisheries in its development of a biologically sound plan to guide recovery efforts and in choosing recovery actions to implement. NOAA Fisheries adopted the Lake Ozette Sockeye Salmon Recovery Plan in 2009.
The recovery plan identifies multiple actions that, when implemented, will provide the foundation for restoring the population to healthy levels. In June 2019, the Steering Committee voted to dissolve, following budget constraints that precluded a funded/facilitated meeting structure. Primary functions of the Steering Committee were assumed by the North Pacific Coast Lead Entity and Coast Salmon Partnership.
Partnerships for Recovery
Since the plan's adoption, partners have taken the recovery plan from words to action. The Lake Ozette Recovery Plan is implemented cooperatively by the partners of the Lake Ozette Sockeye Steering Committee. Through the work of the Lake Ozette Sockeye Steering Committee, the recovery plan is making progress in several key areas, including habitat restoration and scientific research. Recovery actions include:
- Makah Tribal biologists continue to monitor water quality in tributary streams and collect survival data by trapping juvenile sockeye migrants at a weir in the outlet of the lake.
- Implementation of the Makah Tribe’s Umbrella Creek and Big River hatchery programs continues to provide a genetic reserve for the at-risk beach spawners, and has improved the geographic distribution of the population by establishing spawning in these tributaries.
- Local citizens continue to remove invasive weeds along streams, such as knotweed, to restore native vegetation and habitat complexity.
- NOAA Fisheries and Makah Tribe Fisheries Management collected river otter scat between 1998 and 2003. Through visual and genetic identification, the collected samples revealed river otter food habits. The analysis documented monthly fluctuations of river otter predation rates on juvenile and adult salmon, with special emphasis on predation rates of adult Lake Ozette sockeye salmon. The results of the analysis will inform predation management strategies.
- Olympic National Park is managing fisheries in the lake to reduce the risk of incidentally catching sockeye salmon and encouraging the removal of non-native fish that prey on and compete with juvenile sockeye salmon.
- Since 2001, forest landowners have implemented stream protection rules designed to protect Lake Ozette sockeye salmon and meet Clean Water Act standards. Nearly 25 percent of current timberlands are left unharvested to protect streams and unstable slopes that could deliver sediment to streams.
Salmon recovery requires action at all levels of government and by all stakeholders to be effective. Partnerships among federal, state, local, and tribal entities, together with non-governmental and private organizations, are key to restoring healthy salmon runs and ensuring the cultural, economic, and environmental benefits they provide. Implementing recovery actions is especially critical at the local level. NOAA Fisheries supports this by providing scientific and policy support, providing funding as available, and working with our partners to improve regulatory mechanisms for salmon recovery.
Key partners working to restore Lake Ozette sockeye are identified below.
Federal, State, & County Partners
- Olympic National Park
- Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary
- Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife
- Washington Department of Natural Resources
- Clallam County
- Green Crow Corporation
- Merrill & Ring
- Coast Salmon Foundation
- Coast Salmon Partnership
- North Pacific Coast Lead Entity
- Friends of Lake Ozette
- Interested and Engaged Citizens
If you would like to get involved directly in Lake Ozette sockeye salmon recovery efforts please attend a Lake Ozette Sockeye Steering Committee meeting. Scheduled meetings can be found at Coast Salmon Partnership, and upcoming meetings are announced quarterly.
The Lake Ozette Steering Committee maintains a website through one of its member/partners, Haggerty Consulting; see the Lake Ozette sockeye salmon page. Notes from Lake Ozette Sockeye Steering Committee meetings are maintained by Clallam County. They will be available at a web link, currently under development. Look for information at the Clallam County's Lake Ozette Sockeye Steering Committee Meetings page.
If you have questions, would like to learn more about recovery efforts in your watershed, or would like to get involved directly, please contact:
West Coast Region - Oregon and Washington Coastal Office