Northwest Fisheries Science Center

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Document Type: Journal Article
Center: NWFSC
Document ID: 879
Title: Seasonal stock-specific migrations of juvenile sockeye salmon along the west coast of North America:  implications for growth
Author: S. Tucker, Marc Trudel, David W. Welch, J. R. Candy, J. F.T. Morris, M. Thiess, C. Wallace, David J. Teel, W. Crawford, Edward V. Farley, T. D. Beacham
Publication Year: 2009
Journal: Transactions of the American Fisheries Society
Volume: 138
Issue: 6
Pages: 1458-1480

Knowledge of the migratory habits of juvenile Pacific salmon Oncorhynchus spp. is required to test the hypothesis that ocean food resources are a limiting factor in their production.  Using DNA stock identification techniques, we reconstructed the regional and seasonal changes in the stock composition of juvenile sockeye salmon O. nerka (n = 4,062) collected from coastal Washington to the Alaska Peninsula in coastal trawl surveys from May to February 1996–2007.  Individuals were allocated to 14 regional populations.  The majority were allocated to stocks from the Fraser River system (42%), while west coast Vancouver Island stocks accounted for 15% of the total catch; Nass and Skeena River sockeye salmon constituted 14%, and Rivers Inlet 6% of the total.  The remainder of the stocks identified individually contributed less than 5% of the sockeye salmon analyzed.  These proportions generally reflected the abundance of those populations.  In spring and summer, the majority of fish were caught in close proximity to their rivers of origin, lending further support to the allocations.  By fall, sockeye salmon were caught as far north and west as the Alaska Peninsula, the majority being caught from central British Columbia to Southeast Alaska.  Juvenile sockeye salmon generally disappeared from the coast by winter, suggesting dispersion into the Gulf of Alaska.  Within each region, the proportional stock composition changed as the seasons progressed, with northward (and in some cases, rapid) migration along the coast.  We also demonstrated stock-specific differences in migration patterns.  For each stock identified, body size and energy density were higher at northern latitudes, suggesting that there is an environmental or food web influence on growth or that faster growing fish initiated their northward migration earlier.

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