Northwest Fisheries Science Center

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Document Type: Journal Article
Center: NWFSC
Document ID: 5267
Title: Return to the river: scientific issues in the restoration of salmonid fishes in the Columbia River
Author: R. N. Williams, P. A. Bisson, Daniel L. Bottom, L. D. Calvin, Charles C. Coutant, Michael W. Erho, C. A. Frissell, J. A. Lichatowich, W. J. Liss, Willis E. McConnaha, P. R. Mundy, J. A. Stanford, R. R. Whitney
Publication Year: 1999
Journal: Fisheries
Volume: 24
Issue: 3
Pages: 10-25

 The Columbia River once was one of the most productive river basins for anadromous salmonids on the West Coast of North America; however, its current runs total less than 10% of historic levels.  The Independent Scientific Group (ISG) of the Northwest Power Planning Council reviewed regional salmon management actions described in the Columbia River Basin Fish and Wildlife Program and concluded that the current program is unlikely to recover declining salmon and steelhead stocks.  Adoption of a salmon life history ecosystem concept as a guiding foundation is needed to recover depressed stocks.  Increasing natural ecosystem processes and functions should rebuild salmon populations to more abundant, productive, and stable levels.  Elements of a salmon recovery program that increase these normative conditions include restoration of habitat for all life history stages (including migrations), reduction of mortality sources (including harvesters), planning of hydropower mitigation measures in the context of the normative river concept, and empirical evaluation of mitigation for effectiveness in reaching fish restoration objectives.  Salmon need to be managed for population and life history diversity, not just for harvest.  Reserves that protect remaining core populations and intact habitats are needed to foster a step–by–step rebuilding of salmon abundance and productivity. 

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