Pacific Salmon and Steelhead Fisheries Management Glossary
Pacific salmon and steelhead are culturally, ecologically, and economically important to West Coast communities. Salmon fisheries are complex and require cooperation amongst many parties to ensure that the fisheries are managed sustainably.
Anadromous describes fish that are born in freshwater, migrate to and spend most of their life in the ocean, and then return to freshwater to reproduce. All six species of Pacific salmon and steelhead found along the West Coast of North America are anadromous.
Catch is the amount of fish, such as salmon and steelhead, that are caught in a fishery. In salmon fisheries, catch is measured in numbers of fish (other fisheries may use weight).
Co-management is the collaborative process between co-managers–tribal governments and state governments on the West Coast. Using scientific information, the co-managers make decisions about the management of fisheries to ensure that the fisheries meet legal requirements, treaty fishing rights, and conservation goals.
Conservation is the protection of natural resources to prevent over-exploitation. Additionally, the Endangered Species Act includes a definition of conservation as “the use of all methods and procedures which are necessary to bring any endangered species or threatened species to the point at which the measures provided pursuant to the ESA are no longer necessary.”
Endangered Species Act (ESA)
The Endangered Species Act (ESA) is the primary law in the United States for protecting critically important species that are at risk of extinction. Under the ESA, the federal government has the responsibility to protect these species and their critical habitats. NOAA Fisheries is responsible for endangered and threatened marine and anadromous species - from whales and seals to sharks, salmon, and corals.
Escapement is the amount of salmon that return to a hatchery or stream to spawn.
Exclusive Economic Zone
The Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) is an area from 3 to 200 nautical miles offshore of coastal states and is classified as federal waters. In the EEZ, the U.S. has special rights about the exploration and use of marine resources, which includes energy production from water and wind, and fisheries.
Federal waters occur from 3 to 200 miles offshore of the U.S. coast; this area is also termed the Exclusive Economic Zone.
Fisheries management is a process that relies on science, management approaches, enforcement, partnerships, and public participation. Fisheries management uses scientific information (e.g., number of fish caught, types of fish caught, life cycle knowledge) and input from fishing communities to help guide management decisions and conservation objectives.
A fishery is an activity leading to the harvesting of fish and can be specified by the species of fish caught, people involved, location, method of fishing, and purpose of the activities. Fish caught in a fishery can be for commercial, recreational, or tribal and ceremonial purposes.
The term harvest refers to the total number of fish caught and kept from an area or fishery during a period of time.
A fish hatchery is where fish are spawned through human intervention and eggs are hatched and raised through the early stages of their life, and then released into the wild. Hatcheries are used to supplement salmon populations for multiple purposes, which include supplying fish for future harvest or for conservation of salmon stocks that need support to avoid extinction.
Interception occurs when a salmon from one state or country is caught in another state or country's fisheries. As salmon grow and mature in the Pacific Ocean, they travel along the West Coast and across international borders. Salmon that are born in U.S. streams may migrate through Canadian waters, where they may be caught in Canadian fisheries. Salmon from Oregon streams can be caught in Washington fisheries.
Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA)
The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA) is the primary law that governs fisheries management in the federal marine waters (3-200 miles offshore) of the United States. The goal of the MSA is to encourage the long-term biological and economic sustainability of marine fisheries.
Overfishing, overharvesting, and overexploitation describe the continual removal of a resource, such as salmon, to the point at which the breeding population of species becomes too low to recover and reproduce for future generations.
Pelagic refers to the open ocean.
As salmon migrate back to freshwater as adults, they arrive in groups called runs, which are typically associated with a season (spring, summer, fall, winter). A run of salmon may be composed of salmon from a single age or multiple ages, and can be from a single stock or multiple stocks.
Smoltification is the physiological process that occurs when a salmon or steelhead transitions from a freshwater to a saltwater life-stage.
A smolt is a life cycle phase of a salmon or steelhead when the fish is preparing for the transition from freshwater to saltwater. The process is called smoltification.
Spawning grounds are the freshwater areas where salmon and steelhead spawn. When Pacific salmon and steelhead spawn, females create nests (called “redds”) in the gravel where they lay thousands of eggs, which are then fertilized by males. Salmon and steelhead travel great distances to reach their spawning grounds in rivers and streams.
A stock is a genetically linked group of salmon that originate and return to a specific geographic area at a specific time. Stock assessments are essential for fisheries management to evaluate the status of salmon and steelhead, determine yearly catch limits, and plan fisheries.
In the Pacific Northwest of the U.S., the term "Ceremonial and Subsistence" (C&S) is used to describe non-commercial harvest in Treaty Tribe fisheries for personal, ritual, or community use. In Canada, the term "Food, Social, and Ceremonial" (FSC) is used to describe the non-commercial harvest of fish by the First Nations.
Sustainable fisheries are fisheries that leave enough fish to reproduce in the future, value ecosystem relationships, and ensure that people who depend on fishing can maintain their livelihoods. The goal of sustainable fisheries is to enable some level of consistent harvest while maintaining healthy and productive populations of fish. The goal is achieved through continuous management of fishing activities and collection of data to determine the total number of fish caught.
A treaty is a formal, legally binding agreement that establishes obligations between and among two or more countries, states, or sovereign nations. Examples of treaties include the Pacific Salmon Treaty and treaties between the U.S. and American Indian Tribes.