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Using science to inform ecosystem restoration in Puget Sound

Armine Hareyan's picture

In Puget Sound, scientists and managers must restore endangered orca populations and Chinook salmon populations as they work to restore an entire ecosystem. The needs of these two species present a prime example of how previous single-species strategies do not work in ecosystem restoration.

“The orca’s main source of food is Chinook salmon. And the whales are suffering from malnutrition,” said NOAA Fisheries Scientist Mary Ruckelshaus. “But by increasing salmon production in hatcheries, the whales’ appetites may be fed at the expense of recovering wild Chinook. Releasing large numbers of salmon raised in hatcheries can lead to the decline of wild salmon.”

Ruckelshaus will discuss how scientists assist managers with the difficult choices needed to restore the Puget Sound ecosystem in her talk as part of the symposium, “Embracing Change: A New Vision for Management in Coastal Marine Ecosystems” at the AAAS Annual Meeting in Boston.

Ecosystem restoration of Puget Sound is a mandate of Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire and the state legislature. Puget Sound is also one of four pilot studies by NOAA of integrated ecosystem assessments, a new way of using science to identify indicators of ecosystem health and to prioritize strategies that will contribute to measurable marine restoration goals. The other pilot studies are taking place in the Northeast Shelf, Alaska and the California Current ecosystems.-NOAA Headquarters

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