NEWPORT, Ore. A successful pilot program launched last year that used genetics to determine the river origin of Chinook salmon caught off Oregon's central coast will begin its second season this month and expand to the entire coast off Oregon as well as to northern California waters.
The hope is to discover more about the distribution of salmon in the ocean so that fisheries managers can make in-season decisions and allow the harvest of healthy stocks while mitigating the harvest of weakened runs. The ultimate goal is to avoid shutting down the entire coastal fishery as happened in 2006 to protect weakened runs from the Klamath River, say Oregon State University researchers who are leading the study.
"Every piece of the project that we experimented with last year worked," said Gil Sylvia, director of OSU's Coastal Oregon Marine Experiment Station and a co-principal investigator on the project. "We have the protocols down. We know we can identify with a high degree of certainty the origin of wild or hatchery fish caught offshore and do it within roughly 24 hours.
"Now our goals are to learn whether Klamath stocks are aggregated within a specific area at a certain time, and whether there are differences in the catch composition close to shore and outside of six miles," he added.
Dubbed Project CROOS (Collaborative Research on Oregon Ocean Salmon), the effort is a unique collaboration among scientists, commercial fishermen and fisheries managers. The 2006 pilot study was funded by a grant from the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board and coordinated by the Oregon Salmon Commission and researchers at OSU's Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport.
During the field studies, 72 Oregon fishing vessels took part and provided 2,567 viable tissue samples from fresh-caught salmon to an OSU genetics laboratory in Newport, Ore. Of that total, OSU geneticists were able to assign a probability of 90 percent or more in determi
Contact: Gil Sylvia
Oregon State University