Salmon 2100: The Future of Wild Pacific Salmon

Salmon in the 21st Century: Managing Human Activities to Achieve Long-Term Sustainability of Pacific Salmon and Steelhead Populations

Don D. MacDonald, E. Eric Knudsen, and Cleveland R. Steward


Salmon and steelhead Oncorhynchus mykiss are powerful symbols for the quality of life we enjoy on the Pacific coast of North America and generate a wide range of economic, social, and cultural benefits for the region. Commercial fisheries contribute significantly to local, provincial/state, and national economies, both directly through the sale of fish and indirectly through the services and manufacturing industries. Sport fisheries provide diverse economic benefits through the tourist, manufacturing, and service sectors. First Nations (Canada) and tribal (United States) fisheries revitalize local economies, encourage social stabilization and renewal, and help maintain the rich cultural heritage that characterizes this region. Considering the nature and extent of the benefits that they bestow, the conservation of our shared salmon and steelhead resources should be a regional, national, and international priority.

A number of region-wide factors have conspired to threaten salmon and steelhead populations, including human population growth, global climate change, habitat loss and degradation, overexploitation of fisheries resources, artificial propagation and aquaculture, introductions of exotic species, ineffective and uncoordinated institutional and regulatory structures, public apathy, and interest-based decision making (see Lackey et al. 2006b, this volume). It is not surprising, therefore, that the solution to this conundrum does not lie in any one strategy or management action. Rather, society as a whole will need to develop and adopt a common vision for the future that includes healthy, diverse, and productive ecosystems; viable aboriginal, sport, and commercial fisheries; and vital and stable communities throughout the historic range of Pacific salmon. In addition, we will need to develop an integrated set of policies, regulations, and actions that provide a basis for managing human activities and human uses of natural resources in a way that ensures that Pacific salmon populations are sustained and enhanced for future generations.