Northwest Fisheries Science Center


Recent Top Stories

Safe skies at night
 Posted: December 15, 2017

Using 15 years of NOAA's Fisheries Observer Program data, Center scientists Tom Good and Jason Jannot worked with longline fishermen and vessel captains to study methods of reducing impacts to albatross and other seabirds in the U.S. West Coast sablefish fishery. Results of their research have been published in the journal Fisheries Research.   more...


The next link/button will exit from NWFSC web site Journal's Most Downloaded Paper
 Posted: December 14, 2017

One of the top six most downloaded articles from the Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology in the last several months was published by Center scientists Dawn Noren and Marla Holt, together with their co-authors at UC Santa Cruz. Their study used flow-through respirometry to find that the metabolic cost of bottlenose dolphins producing echolocation clicks is low, which helps foraging dolphins conserve oxygen.   The next link/button will exit from NWFSC web site more...


The next link/button will exit from NWFSC web site Annual report of Puget Sound's marine waters
 Posted: December 6, 2017

We don't always know what's going on under the surface of Puget Sound, but a new report released today gives us a comprehensive look at marine conditions in 2016, including river inputs, seawater temperature, salinity, dissolved oxygen, ocean acidification, biotoxins, bacteria and pathogens, and more. The report represents a collaborative effort among various groups and was produced by NWFSC for the Puget Sound Ecosystem Monitoring Program's Marine Waters Workgroup.   The next link/button will exit from NWFSC web site more...


The next link/button will exit from NWFSC web site New video on the secret life of rivers
 Posted: November 30, 2017

A healthy river ecosystem depends in part on the invisible world of the hyporheic zone. This zone serves as a refuge for copepods and invertebrates that are food for salmon, helps moderate water temperatures, and hosts beneficial bacteria that recycle nutrients and degrade pollutants. Center scientists worked with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Seattle Public Utilities, and Leaping Frog Films to share the diversity of the hyporheic zone in a new animated video, "The Secret Life of Rivers."   The next link/button will exit from NWFSC web site more...


Former Center Director named science fellow
 Posted: November 30, 2017

Dr. Usha Varanasi, former NWFSC Science Director (1994-2010), is among the 396 new fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, announced this week. Dr. Varanasi was elected for her contributions to environmental chemistry and toxicology. Election as a fellow of AAAS is an honor bestowed upon members by their peers in recognition of their meritorious efforts to advance science or its applications.   more...


Recovering marine mammals increase pressure on salmon
 Posted: November 22, 2017

Recovering populations of sea lions, harbor seals, and other marine mammals on the West Coast are eating more and more Chinook salmon, and their consumption may now exceed the combined harvest by commercial and recreational fisheries, a new study finds. A collaboration of federal, state, tribal, and academic researchers from Oregon State University, NOAA Fisheries and other institutions published the findings this week in the journal Scientific Reports.   more...


Veterans join NOAA Fisheries internship program
 Posted: November 9, 2017

Two veterans are beginning internships at NOAA Fisheries' Northwest Fisheries Science Center, and the first veteran to complete the program starts graduate school in fisheries on a full scholarship. This Veterans Day marks the fifth since NOAA launched its first training opportunities for veterans on the West Coast, and veterans now hold key research and conservation roles with NOAA from Southern California to Washington.   more...


New report on Pacific halibut
 Posted: October 13, 2017

The NWFSC's Observer Program recently released its annual Pacific halibut bycatch and mortality report, which is used by the International Pacific Halibut Commission and the Pacific Fisheries Management Council to manage bycatch in groundfish fisheries and provides estimates bycatch and mortality for each year from 2002-2016.   more...


Estuarine engineers
 Posted: October 2, 2017

Burrowing shrimp are more than just good bait for sturgeon and salmon or a nuisance to oyster farmers. They are a key part of their environment, and their loss could result in serious ecological consequences. To better understand how to manage their populations along the West Coast, scientists from the NWFSC, Oregon State University, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture have teamed up to study the diets of burrowing shrimp and the enormous impact they have on the estuaries they inhabit.   more...


Warm waters draw spawning fish north
 Posted: September 26, 2017

Unusually warm ocean conditions off the Pacific Northwest in the last few years led anchovies, sardines and hake to begin spawning in Northwest waters much earlier in the year and, for anchovy, longer than biologists have ever recorded before, according to a new study by researchers from Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission, Oregon State University, and the NWFSC.   more...


International prize recognizes Northwest ocean research program
 Posted: September 25, 2017

The NWFSC and Oregon State University received the PICES Ocean Monitoring Service Award for jointly maintaining the Newport Line for more than 50 years, yielding new scientific insight into climate patterns such as El Nino and La Nina, salmon returns, ocean currents and much more.   more...


Seabird Cable Strike Mitigation Workshop
 Posted: September 22, 2017

Trawlers in the West Coast hake and Alaska pollock fisheries attract seabirds that congregate to feed on offal, which can put these birds at risk of colliding with the cables that run aft of these vessels. On November 7-8 , NOAA Fisheries is hosting a workshop to discuss strategies to reduce seabird mortality from cable strikes.   more...


The next link/button will exit from NWFSC web site Catching diversity of fish may stabilize income for fishers
 Posted: September 19, 2017

In a new study co-authored by Eric Ward and Ole Shelton, researchers showed that people who purchased multiple fishing permits and diversified the types of species they catch had much less income variability than people who specialized in just one species or obtained a single type of permit. The paper, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is the first to track the effect of fishing practices on individuals, rather than fishing fleets or communities.   The next link/button will exit from NWFSC web site more...


New database of species in Puget Sound
 Posted: September 15, 2017

A new study led by Shallin Busch has produced a detailed, searchable database of almost 3,000 species found in Puget Sound, and unravels some earlier assumptions about how vulnerable some species may be to ocean acidification. Contrary to the researchers' expectations, whether or not an organism builds a shell may not be the best indicator of whether a species is sensitive to ocean acidification.   more...


Lean times for salmon
 Posted: September 7, 2017

The NWFSC has been studying the ecology of young salmon entering the ocean for more than 20 years to help reveal how conditions in the ocean affect salmon survival and, ultimately, how many salmon complete their life cycle to return to their home streams and spawn a new generation of fish. This year, ocean conditions for salmon headed to sea are very poor, with a high likelihood of depressing salmon returns to the Columbia River in the next few years.   more...


The next link/button will exit from NWFSC web site Tracking Dungeness crab in the Columbia River
 Posted: September 7, 2017

Dungeness crabs are a multi-million dollar fishery for Oregon and Washington state. Curtis Roegner and his colleagues are leading a three-year study to radio tag Dungeness crab in the mouth of the Columbia River. The results of the study will help the researchers better understand the species' life cycle and how the crab respond and adapt to changes in their environment, such as from dredging operations.   The next link/button will exit from NWFSC web site more...


Fishermen and scientists collaborate at sea
 Posted: August 31, 2017

Scientists from our field station in Newport, together with Oregon State University's Hatfield Marine Science Center and the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission, are part of a NOAA Fisheries science initiative that employs local fishing boats as floating research platforms. The program, in it's third year, promotes interaction between scientists and local fishermen and supports quarterly research surveys off Newport, OR.   more...


Messy is good for fish
 Posted: August 1, 2017

Puget Sound's iconic salmon are struggling. A team of researchers led by fish biologist Tim Beechie have begun an ambitious, long-term program to monitor and track changes in the natural habitat most essential to the health and survival of threatened steelhead, coho, and Chinook salmon. In a recently published NOAA Technical Memorandum, Beechie and his team describe their new methods for using aerial photographs and satellite images to track the Puget Sound's changing environment.   more...


Program Review: Economics and Human Dimensions
 Posted: August 1, 2017

The NWFSC is holding a science program review of our Economics and Human Dimensions Programs on August 7-10, 2017 in Seattle, WA. A team of national experts will conduct a peer review of our programs' goals and objectives, data collection related to commercial and recreational fisheries, fishery participants and communities, and the models and research tools used to analyze the data. The public will also have opportunities to comment.   more...


The next link/button will exit from NWFSC web site Saving salmon
 Posted: July 24, 2017

In the first of a series of special reports by the Idaho Statesman, Laurie Weitkamp shares how she hopes to discover clues to salmon survival by analyzing the blood of young fish in the Columbia River estuary. Her team's research illustrates how critical the health of the estuary is to salmon survival. (Photo credit: Ali Rizvi)   The next link/button will exit from NWFSC web site more...


New blog about groundfish trawl survey
 Posted: June 21, 2017

The Center's Fisheries Research Survey Team launched a new blog to track the 2017 groundfish survey, which traverses West Coast waters from U.S.-Canada to U.S.-Mexico twice during the sampling season from May to October. Follow along as we use trawling and oceanographic sampling to learn about the California Current ecosystem and the health of many West Coast fish populations.   more...


Researchers probe explosion of pyrosomes off the Northwest Coast
 Posted: June 13, 2017

Researchers are trying to unravel the mystery of why strange jelly-like organisms called pyrosomes have exploded in number off the Northwest Coast in recent months. They were rarely seen off the Northwest until about two years ago but have multiplied to the point they are clogging fishing gear by the thousands. (Photo by Hilarie Sorensen/U. of Oregon)   more...


Welcome our new NWFSC Director
 Posted: April 28, 2017

We are pleased to welcome Dr. Kevin Werner as the new science director of the NWFSC. Dr. Werner comes to us with two decades of experience within NOAA, having served recently as the Director of the National Weather Service's Office of Organizational Excellence and the Regional Climate Service Director for NOAA's Western Region. His new role will officially begin on May 15, 2017.   more...


Salmon recovery on the Columbia River
 Posted: April 24, 2017

Salmon recovery efforts may have just taken a big step forward, thanks to a collaborative project between the NWFSC, the Hood River Production Program, and the Bonneville Power Administration. In a new paper published by the American Fisheries Society, researchers may have found a way to help fish hatcheries increase productivity while reducing their impact on threatened, wild salmon.   more...


The next link/button will exit from NWFSC web site Tackling ecological resilience
 Posted: March 29, 2017

A new paper by the University of Washington and the Northwest Fisheries Science Center aims to provide clarity among scientists, resource managers and planners on what ecological resilience means and how it can be achieved. The study, published this month in the journal PLOS ONE, is the first to examine the topic in the context of ecological restoration and identify ways that resilience can be measured and achieved at different scales.   The next link/button will exit from NWFSC web site more...


New NOAA Program for Veterans
 Posted: November 10, 2016

This Veteran's Day marks the fourth since NOAA launched its first training opportunities for veterans. Barney Boyer, an intern at our Mukilteo Research Station, is the first military veteran to work with NOAA Fisheries through a new partnership between Washington's Department of Veterans Affairs, the Veterans Conservation Corps, and several NOAA offices.   more...


Aerial images document J2 in final months before death
 Posted: January 6, 2017

Aerial images by our colleagues at the Southwest Fisheries Science Center and the Center for Whale Research documented the final months of J2, the iconic Southern Resident killer whale that has been recently presumed dead. J2's presumed death follows that of four other whales from her extended family group ("J-pod") since last summer, and highlights continued concerns about the impact of limited prey resources and other threats to the population.   more...


Remembering Carl Lian
 Posted: January 25, 2017

We regretfully announce the passing of our colleague Carl Lian on December 27, 2016. Carl was a member of the NWFSC's Economics and Social Science Research Team, where he studied the impacts of the West Coast groundfish catch share program and compiled a wealth of fisheries economic data for our region. Our thoughts go out to Carl's family and friends during this time.   more...


Winter hake survey to begin
 Posted: January 9, 2017

The 2017 winter hake survey is gearing up to embark from Newport, Oregon on January 11. Scientists from the Center's Fisheries Engineering and Acoustic Technologies (FEAT) Program will be aboard the NOAA Ship Bell M. Shimada for a month-long cruise to survey spawning hake along the West Coast. Follow the action as FEAT scientists share what they are seeing on their new blog, the Main Deck.   more...


Update on strandings of killer whales L95 and J32
 Posted: October 5, 2016

The final necropsy reports for L95 and J32, Southern Resident killer whales from L and Jpod, are now available. L95 was a 20 year old male tagged by NWFSC scientists in March and J32 was an 18 year old female found dead in December 2014.   more...


Year in Review: 2016
 Posted: February 13, 2017

As we move forward into 2017, let's take a look back at some of the Center's accomplishments last year. Many thanks to our staff, NOAA colleagues, and external partners for helping us make strides toward understanding and conserving marine life in the Pacific Northwest and beyond.   more...


NOAA releases Climate Regional Action Plans
 Posted: December 16, 2016

NOAA Fisheries released five climate Regional Action Plans to assist decision makers in preparing for and responding to climate-related changes in marine and coastal ecosystems. The RAP for the western region was developed by the Northwest and Southwest Fisheries Science Centers to evaluate the effects of a changing climate on marine and anadromous fish, invertebrates, marine mammals, sea turtles and seabirds in the California Current Large Marine Ecosystem.   more...


NOAA Fisheries Annual Priorities
 Posted: November 7, 2016

NOAA Fisheries just released the Priorities and Annual Guidance for 2017. This document features the agency's goals, priorities, and anticipated results for next year. As in previous years, this year's document also reflects high-level input and a commitment to execute this plan from every member of the agency's Leadership Council.   more...


Restoring predators and prey together speeds recovery
 Posted: March 1, 2017

A new study published in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution shows that restoring predator and prey species together helps accelerate ecosystem recovery efforts. The research team from NOAA Fisheries, Oregon State University, UC Santa Barbara and Imperial College London found that pursuing recovery of one species at a time is slower and less desirable.   more...


Public Access to Research Results
 Posted: March 1, 2017

Today, the Center met an important milestone by making at least 30% of our NOAA-funded data accessible to the public by March 1. The PARR (Public Access to Research Results) inventory includes 84 data sets, or about 33% of the Center's 254 total data sets. All 254 datasets can be found on https://catalog.data.gov/dataset. Our goal is to publish 60% of the data by March 1, 2018 and 100% by March 1, 2019.   more...


Taurine and alternative fish feed
 Posted: February 28, 2017

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently approved taurine as an ingredient in alternative plant-based feed to help provide fish farmers with more options and reduce our nation's reliance on animal-based feed. Learn how Dr. Ron Johnson's work on the benefits of taurine for overall fish health contributed to the FDA's approval.   more...


Fishing for answers
 Posted: December 6, 2016

The charter fishing industry has a long history in Washington and Oregon, as residents and tourists engage in a variety of fishing opportunities, from salmon fishing in the Puget Sound and the Columbia River to rockfish and tuna fishing in the region's marine areas. In a recently published NOAA Technical Memorandum, author Jerry Leonard shares the results of a 2014 survey of charter vessels in both states to explore how the region's fishing industry responded to changes to the environment, the economy, and regulations imposed by federal and state governments.   more...


Kickstarting innovation
 Posted: October 21, 2016

Imagine a low-cost way to fund innovative research, develop new tools and methods, and invigorate the careers of junior and senior scientists. Robin Waples details the origins, achievements, challenges, and future of the NWFSC's popular Internal Grants Program in a new NWFSC Technical Memorandum, Small Investments with Big Payoffs.   more...


Special issue honoring Mark Plummer
 Posted: October 17, 2016

When Mark Plummer died in 2014, he left behind a legacy of rigorous research, interdisciplinary collaboration, and creative innovation. The environmental science journal Coastal Management, of which Plummer was an associate editor for four years, published a series of articles written by his former colleagues and collaborators in tribute to his life and career.   more...


Shellfish harvesting habits in Puget Sound
 Posted: October 14, 2016

A new NWFSC Technical Memorandum by lead author Leif Anderson reports on recreational shellfishing practices and the impacts of beach closures in Puget Sound, based on a 2013 survey conducted with the support of Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.   more...


NOAA Nite at Mukilteo
 Posted: February 10, 2017

Join us for an evening of talks and a chance to chat with scientists who work at NOAA's Mukilteo Research Station on Monday, February 13. Scientists will discuss the marine science happening in this region, including abalone conservation, the effects of toxic chemicals, Dungeness crab management, salmon habitat restoration, ocean acidification, and more. This event is free and open to the public.   more...


Ocean acidification impacts on food webs and fisheries
 Posted: January 12, 2017

Ocean acidification will reverberate through the West Coast's marine food web, but not necessarily in the ways you might expect, new research shows. Dungeness crabs, for example, will likely suffer as their food sources decline. Dungeness crab fisheries valued at about $220 million annually may face a strong downturn over the next 50 years, according to the research published today in the journal Global Change Biology.   more...


When algae turn toxic
 Posted: October 20, 2016

In 2015, the largest and longest-lasting harmful algal bloom of this century hit the West Coast. Domoic acid, a neurotoxin produced by the Pseudo-nitzschia algae, was found in dangerous levels in shelfish from Washington to California. A new paper in PLOS ONE explores the causes and whether we can predict future events.   more...


Groundfish Bottom Trawl Survey
 Posted: March 9, 2017

The West Coast Groundfish Bottom Trawl Survey has been conducted annually at the Northwest Fisheries Science Center since 1998. Each year, four chartered fishing vessels conduct over 150 trawls from May to October, covering trawlable habitats at depths of 55 m to 1,280 m from the U.S.Mexico to the U.S.Canada borders. Learn more about history of this survey in a newly published Technical Memorandum.   more...


Toxics and effects on health of killer whales
 Posted: January 4, 2017

A new NOAA Technical Memorandum sheds light on how some of the most common persistent organic pollutants in Puget Sound are transferred to endangered Southern Resident killer whales, from the whales' favored prey (Chinook salmon) as well as between mothers and calves. The report, by lead author Teresa Mongillo (West Coast Region), also provides recommendations for the most necessary directions that future work on Southern Residents should take.   more...


The next link/button will exit from NWFSC web site Puget Sound eelgrass beds holding steady
 Posted: January 4, 2017

The NWFSC and partners recently uncovered 40 years worth of data on Puget Sound's ecosystem changes, with some surprising results. The researchers found that overall, eelgrass beds in the region remained stable over those four decades, suggesting its resilience to long-term changes like climate fluctuations. Eelgrass serves as vital nursery habitat for many marine species such as salmon and herring.   The next link/button will exit from NWFSC web site more...


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