California Salmon and Trout in Peril: Study

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Salmon are at the heart of tribal cultures up and down the West Coast—their diet, commerce, ceremonies, and spirituality. They appear in cave art of 10,000 or more years ago. Salmon are not just a way of life. They are life.

And in California, they may soon be extinct.

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Courtesy Mike Wier
Coho salmon spawning in Humboldt Bay, California


Three quarters of the state’s salmonids, as salmon and trout are called, could be gone in a century if conditions don’t change. That’s according to a new scientific assessment released on May 16. Nearly half of all salmon species face extinction in 50 years if trends in the state stay the same.

The report, State of the Salmonids II: Fish in Hot Water, from the UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences, and CalTrout, a nonprofit organization, is updated from a study done a decade ago to reflect the latest climate models, and other factors including the five-year drought, which in addition to other stressors pushed several species to the edge of extinction.

“Overall, California’s salmonids are markedly worse off than in 2008,” said lead author Peter Moyle, professor emeritus in the Department of Wildlife, Fish and Conservation Biology and Associate Director of the Center for Watershed Sciences at UC Davis, during a media teleconference May 16. “The impacts of climate change have become much clearer than in the past.”

Read more here.