Federal fisheries officials, working with collaborators in the private-public Oregon Coast Coho Partnership, are expressing optimism on restoring healthy coho salmon runs to the Oregon coast through science-driven restoration and sound watershed management.
This includes efforts to uphold Native American tribal fishing rights.
Coho salmon populations on the Oregon coast, as well as the coast of Northern California, are currently listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, because there isn’t enough high-quality habitat available for vulnerable juvenile cohos to be reared.
The cohos weigh an average of eight pounds and two feet in length. More than 30 habitat restoration projects have been funded and are underway through the partnership, which is collaborating with community organizations, tribes, local, state and federal partners.
Locally led teams are developing strategic action plans for each coho population, using modeling and local knowledge. The cohos are an anadromous fish, meaning they can live in both fresh and saltwater. They have a relatively complex life span that includes spawning and juvenile rearing in rivers for at least one summer, following by migrating to saltwater to feed, grow and mature before returning to freshwater to spawn.
They are vulnerable to many stressors and threats, including blocked access to spawning grounds and habitat degradation caused by dams and culverts.
NOAA Fisheries said that it aims to restore the habitat that the juveniles rely on for food, protection and safe areas for spawning and rearing. By the end of 2023, NOAA said, it anticipates that the partnership will have restored 400 acres of wetland and stream habitat and reopened 30 miles to streams for migration.