ESA Petition on Gulf Chinook Undergoes NOAA Review

Biden administration advances conservation group’s bid to list Gulf of Alaska king salmon as endangered or threatened
Experts say that the request, if granted, could force restrictions not just on salmon fishermen but also on activity that affects river habitat, like road and residential construction.
Northern Journal by Nathaniel Herz – May 23, 2024
The Biden administration says that listing numerous Alaska king salmon populations under the Endangered Species Act could be warranted, and it now plans to launch a broader scientific study to follow its preliminary review.

NOAA announced a positive 90-day finding on a Wild Fish Conservancy (WFC) petition to list Chinook salmon in the Gulf of Alaska as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), meaning that their initial review indicates the petitioned action may be warranted.

As you may recall, on Jan 11 of this year, NMFS received a petition from the WFC to delineate and list one or more evolutionarily significant  units (ESU) of Gulf of Alaska Chinook as threatened or endangered under ESA and to designate Critical Habitat with the listing.

The ESA requires to the maximum extent practicable that, within 90 days of the receipt of the petition presents substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that the petitioned action may be warranted.There is more information and a link for your comments here:

ATA will be submitting comments including: 

Not only did the petitioners fail to include hatchery Chinook in their discussion, but they also make escapement counts their sole numeric focus which provides a highly distorted view of the population.  When one considers the overall population level, it is not even clear that there has been any significant decrease in SE Alaskan Chinook levels, an assertion at the heart of the petition.

In terms of the total population of Chinook salmon in Alaskan waters at any point in time mature adults (escapement counted) are a tiny minority. Fry and smolt make up the vast majority of the Chinook population in Alaskan waters and out-number their adult counterparts by a factor of 100 or more.  Adding an unknown number of Chinook  found in federal waters and the high seas, it is hard to even consider such a large population to be threatened or endangered.