New Project: Salish Sea Herring Assessment and Conservation

Pacific herring (Clupea pallasii) are an abundant and foundational species in the Salish Sea. Presently, monitoring, assessment, and management efforts treat Salish Sea herring as two separate groups: a Puget Sound herring stock, and a Strait of George herring stock. Building on my previous work to evaluate limits to Puget Sound herring recovery, I have teamed up with Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife staff to evaluate the state of knowledge and provide recommendations on the conservation and management of Salish Sea herring.

We first formed a trans-boundary technical team comprised of tribes and First Nations scientists, agency scientists, and university scientists. Our team started by collecting leading hypotheses about the factors influencing changes in herring abundance and distribution in the Salish Sea. Those hypotheses, including shoreline development, contaminants and pollutants, and food web changes, were used to develop a conceptual model of Salish Sea herring, including key ecological connections and influencing factors. A public workshop was held at the Canada House of Western Washington University to review the conceptual model with additional experts from both sides of the border.

At present, I am developing a Qualitative Network Model, based on the conceptual model and the workshop results, which can be used to test the relative support for different hypotheses about key influences on herring abundance and distribution in the Salish Sea.

This work is funded by the SeaDoc Society and WA DFW collaborators are Dayv Lowry, Todd Sandell, and Phil Dionne.

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