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Conservation Science for a Healthy Planet

Consumption of chinook salmon increases with recovery of West Coast marine mammals

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November 20, 2017 Oregon State University

The researchers estimate that from 1975 to 2015, the yearly biomass of chinook salmon consumed by pinnipeds (sea lions and harbor seals) and killer whales increased from 6,100 to 15,200 metric tons, and from five to 31.5 million individual salmon.

….While the recovery of marine mammals represents a conservation success, it creates complex tradeoffs for managers also charged with protecting the salmon they prey on, the study concludes. The U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 protects all marine mammals, including whales and pinnipeds (seals and sea lions) within the waters of the United States. and the Endangered Species Act protects nine West Coast populations of chinook salmon….

While the recovery of marine mammals represents a conservation success, it creates complex tradeoffs for managers also charged with protecting the salmon they prey on. Credit: © Lori Pagel / Fotolia

Brandon E. Chasco, Isaac C. Kaplan, Austen C. Thomas, Alejandro Acevedo-Gutiérrez, Dawn P. Noren, Michael J. Ford, M. Bradley Hanson, Jonathan J. Scordino, Steven J. Jeffries, Kristin N. Marshall, Andrew O. Shelton, Craig Matkin, Brian J. Burke, Eric J. Ward. Competing tradeoffs between increasing marine mammal predation and fisheries harvest of Chinook salmon. Scientific Reports, 2017; 7 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41598-017-14984-8

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