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View: Abstract

Inverse production regimes: Alaskan and West Coast Pacific salmon

Hare, S.R., N.J. Mantua, and R.C. Francis. 1999. Inverse production regimes: Alaskan and West Coast Pacific salmon. Fisheries 21(1):6-14.


A principal component analysis reveals that Pacific salmon catches in Alaska have varied inversely with catches from the United States West Coast during the past 70 years. If variations in catch reflect variations in salmon production, then results of our analysis suggest that the spatial and temporal characteristics of this "inverse" catch/production pattern are related to climate forcing associated with the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, a recurring pattern of pan-Pacific atmosphere-ocean variability.

Temporally, both the physical and biological variability are best characterized as alternating 20- to 30-year-long regimes punctuated by abrupt reversals. From 1977 to the early 1990s, ocean conditions have generally favored Alaska stocks and disfavored West Coast stocks. Unfavorable ocean conditions are likely confounding recent management efforts focused on increasing West Coast Pacific salmon production. Recovery of at-risk (threatened and endangered) stocks may await the next reversal of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation. Managers should continue to limit harvests, improve hatchery practices and restore freshwater and estuarine habitats to protect these populations during periods of poor ocean productivity.