Non-native fish are main consumers of salmon in reservoirs, researchers find

by Sean Nealon, Oregon State University
September 22, 2021

When warmwater fish species like bass, walleye and crappie that are not native to the Pacific Northwest, but prized by some anglers, overlap with baby spring chinook salmon in reservoirs in Oregon’s Willamette River they consume more baby salmon than native fish per individual, new research found.

The research by Oregon State University, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and U.S. Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station scientists, recently published in the journal Ecosphere, may have implications for threatened salmon and future management strategies.

“Mixed stock fisheries are complicated and always changing,” said Christina Murphy, lead author of the paper who is a courtesy faculty member at OSU and a biologist with the U.S. Geological Survey in Maine. “We are providing the science to help managers identify tradeoffs to make the best management decisions for each individual location.”

Fisheries managers in Oregon are increasingly identifying and grappling with threats posed by illegally introduced or invasive species overlapping with native fish populations. In part due to this new research, management actions now include removing harvest restrictions on non-native warmwater fish species, which are sought by some anglers because of their white, flaky meat and sporty fighting ability, where their presence may have negative impacts on sensitive native fish species, such as salmon.

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