After hearing so many accusations, concerns, and fears about trawler by-catch accounting for our current decline in chinook, I talked to one of the biologists over at the Soldotna office of ADF&G. According to the biologist, we have no idea what percentage of chinook by-catch comes from Alaska, Cook Inlet, or the Kenai River. Who knows? Moreover, by-catch has been declining over the last couple decades.

That is not to excuse or make light of by-catch, only to put it in some kind of perspective. Below is a map of chinook distribution around the Pacific Ocean . . no one knows what percentage of what stocks are taken by the trawlers. As the map illustrates, chinook have a vast range, and reproduce in more places than Alaska.

Attachment 72591

Habitat- Chinook salmon have adapted to survive in both freshwater and marine environments. The salmon are born in shallow freshwater streams and venture downstream out into their ocean environment. This movement occurs once the fish have reached a larger, more mature stage in their life (see growth/reproduction). Once in the marine environment, Chinook can be found anywhere from the surface zones to depths of well over 100 feet. Typically, the salmon stay within 3-15 miles of the shoreline. After 3-5 years, the fish migrate back to their “birth stream” to spawn and eventually expire.

Range-The Chinook has modified its lifestyle to live in a variety of watery habitats around the globe. Naturally, the fish occupies the Pacific coasts from San Franciscoon north to the Bering Strait. On the other side of the pond, Chinook inhabit the coasts from Japan to the Bering Strait. While these are the primary waters for the ocean dweller, Chinook have been found populating various streams off the Arctic coasts of northern Russia and Canada.

While the fish has a rather vast natural range, the organism has been introduced by humans to other aquatic regions around the world. One of the most successful and perhaps unique areas for the fish to adapt to is the Great lakes. Up until more recently, 90% of the biota of theGreat Lakes was alewives. To solve this epidemic, humans introduced the salmon to the lakes in the late 60’s. Needless to say the salmon flourished and the alewives population is now at a more manageable level. Chinook have also been exposed to streams in New Zealand and have seen similar success. From this it is thought that some of the salmon have made their way over to Patagonia by some means of transportation or simple means of exploration of the new territory.