Aquatic Ecosystems and Fisheries
Two intertwined issues confront managers of aquatic ecosystems: how to set the annual catch limits for various fisheries before the size of the return is accurately known, and how to rescue salmon runs and west coast groundfish stocks listed under the Endangered Species Act – a task that has embroiled political leaders throughout the region.
As a result of research conducted by the Climate Impacts Group (CIG), we are beginning to understand how climate affects marine conditions and fishery productivity and abundance. Regional leaders also benefit from CIG’s progress in understanding how climate affects streamflows – an important area of concern for the freshwater phase of the salmon life cycle.
The primary objectives of CIG’s research on aquatic ecosystems are to:
- Examine the relative utility of salmon restoration strategies in the face of human-caused habitat and climate changes due to both natural and anthropogenic forcing,
- Determine how climate variations affect the survivability of Pacific Northwest (PNW) salmon throughout their lifecycle (i.e., in streams, estuaries, and the coastal and open ocean),
- Characterize the role of climate in the Washington-Oregon coastal marine ecosystem, and
- Increase the effectiveness of resource management decisions and the resilience of crucial ecosystems.