Something is definitely going on in the (Salish Sea) marine environment that is negatively affecting salmon, steelhead and forage fish; things are changing and we need to understand how and why.
Mike Grayum, Director, Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission
The Salish Sea Marine Survival Project represents years of international collaborative research aimed at understanding a key question for Pacific Northwest salmon recovery: what is limiting the survival of juvenile salmon and steelhead in the Salish Sea? Since 2013, over 60 partner organizations and 200 scientists in the U.S. and Canada have contributed to the project, the largest and most important research of its kind in the shared waters of British Columbia and Washington State. This massive effort, coordinated by project leads Long Live the Kings and the Pacific Salmon Foundation, has developed the first comprehensive knowledge base of the environmental factors impacting salmon survival as they enter marine waters.
The findings, summarized in the 2021 Synthesis Report paint a complex picture of the interrelated factors at play in this critical early stage of the salmon life cycle. The body of evidence points to changes in the food web – both the availability of food for salmon, and the increasing impacts of salmon predators – as the largest contributors to declining marine survival, with habitat loss, pollution, and disease also affecting local populations. As partners continue to pursue further research to refine our understanding of these issues, the final results of the Marine Survival Project are already informing management decisions and providing new strategies to stop the slide toward extinction, recover salmon, and ensure a future for sustainable fisheries.