Fraser River Salmon Decline May Be Linked to Harmful Algal Blooms
At the Pacific Salmon Commission Workshop on the Decline of Fraser River Sockeye in Nanaimo, BC, June 15-17, 2010, an NCCOS-funded researcher and collaborators in the NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service and Canada proposed that the 20 year decline of the Fraser River sockeye salmon is correlated with the occurrence of blooms of the fish-killing raphidophyte, Heterosigma akashiwo.
This harmful alga has bloomed in the area for several decades but since 1989 large-scale blooms have caused severe mortality of farmed fish and some observed wild fish mortality in the region. The Fraser River sockeye salmon is historically the most valuable west coast Canadian and U.S. salmon fishery.
Funding was originally provided by NCCOS as part of an effort to minimize impacts to farmed fish during a severe Heterosigma bloom in 2006, but led to a joint U.S. and Canadian effort to improve prediction of Heterosigma blooms.