Sustaining North American Salmon: Perspectives Across Regions and Disciplines

Chapter 12: The Future of Pacific Salmon in the Great Lakes

C. I. Goddard


The introduction of chinook Oncorhynchus tshawytscha and coho salmon Oncorhynchus kisutch into the Laurentian Great Lakes was a recent event in terms of ecological time. With the reality of niche overlap and a finite forage base, all salmonid species in the Great Lakes exist at some expense to one another (Negus 1995), and the ultimate ecological niche of Pacific salmon (chinook and coho) in these lakes is difficult to predict. Moreover, the Great Lakes ecosystem is still subject to widespread structural and functional changes, and the nature and sustainability of future fish communities is an open question (Steedman and Regier 1987). Nevertheless, on the basis of the science and discussions with fisheries managers, I believe that it is reasonable to predict that Pacific salmon will continue to play a major role as pelagic piscivores in the Great Lakes but at lower abundance than in the past. To support this prediction, I will review the role of Pacific salmon from ecological and management perspectives.