OSU helps fishermen find healthy stocks of salmon

Salmon fisherman
A salmon fisherman unloads his catch at Newport, Oregon. Photo by Lynn Ketchum

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 Collaborative Research on Oregon Ocean Salmon (Project CROOS), 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 1.2 million pounds of salmon in 2015, valued at $7.3 million.

Sources: Gil Sylvia, director of OSU's Coastal Oregon Marine Experiment Station; Pacific Fishery Management Council's Review of 2015 Ocean Salmon Fisheries.

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