OSU helps fishermen find healthy stocks of salmon

a Coho salmon swims upstream
A Coho salmon swims upstream at Oregon’s Fall Creek. (Photo by Lynn Ketchum.)
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OSU researchers use DNA profiles to help fishermen avoid endangered salmon

Large closures to commercial salmon fisheries have jeopardized industry and community vitality. Such lengthy closures could be avoided if up-to-the-moment data were available to distinguish stocks at sea.

Through the Collaborative Research on Oregon Ocean Salmon project, OSU researchers use genetic fingerprints to determine locations of weak and healthy stocks. It started when the OSU Extension Service enlisted the help of fishermen to collect fin and scale samples from the fish they caught in the ocean. OSU then compared their genetic material to a library of genetic markers to pinpoint specific runs of fish. Researchers have since created genetic IDs for more than 20,000 fish. The tracking helps fisheries managers direct fishing toward robust populations of salmon and away from endangered stocks.

The Oregon fishing industry landed 1.3 million pounds of salmon in 2013, valued at $7.5 million.

Sources: Gil Sylvia, director of OSU's Coastal Oregon Marine Experiment Station; Pacific Fishery Management Council's Review of 2013 Ocean Salmon Fisheries report; Oregon Department of Agriculture.

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