underwater view of salmon rushing by
Salmon Southeast Alaska’s rural communities rely on the Tongass’ abundant rivers and streams as a natural pantry. Residents each consume an average of 75 pounds of salmon per year. © Chris Crisman

Animals we Protect

Salmon

Salmonidae

Meet the Salmon

Salmon live along the coasts of the North Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and are also intensively produced in aquaculture all over the world as well. They are anadromous, meaning that migration to and from the ocean from freshwater rivers is essential. 

Salmon migrate from freshwater where they lay eggs. After hatching, the salmon may spend several years in freshwater, depending on the species, until they reach maturity. They then go out to the ocean for their adult life. When they are ready to breed, they return to their freshwater birthing place—often to the very spot in which they were born.

Salmon rely on dead trees and debris along the river for places to rest or lay eggs. A stream without dead wood becomes shallow and uniform, which leaves little habitat for fish. Salmon are key prey for many species including brown bears and are also vital to indigenous cultures in the northwest of North America.

Protecting Salmon  
 
The ecosystems of the Pacific Coast—from  Alaska  down to  California—are tied together by one thing: salmon. Salmon have sustained human populations for generations and are the region’s driving ecological force, but now 28 populations of salmon are listed as threatened or endangered.

Many things have contributed to the decline of Salmon species around the world, including overfishing and habitat loss or alteration in the form of dams and agriculture.

In Oregon, The Nature Conservancy is helping protect salmon with the Salmon Habitat Support Fund. Through the fund, supported by Portland General Electric (PGE) customers, TNC and more than 50 conservation partners have supported 146 freshwater habitat restoration projects in Oregon, reintroducing healthy ecological processes to over 360 miles of rivers and streams and 475 acres of riparian or floodplain habitat.

Similar comprehensive projects are ongoing in Alaska, especially in Matanuska and Susitna river basins, where the Conservancy is part of the Matanuska-Susitna Basin Salmon Habitat Partnership. Further south, TNC and others are working to put wood back into rivers on Prince of Wales Island to restore salmon habitat.

You can take action too. Salmon are a very popular food fish. A simple rule of thumb is that the majority of Atlantic salmon available on the world market are farmed (almost 99%), whereas the majority of Pacific salmon are wild caught (greater than 80%).  The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Pocket Guide  can help you determine what fish—including salmon— are the best choice depending on your location.

If you live in Oregon, there’s another easy way to make a difference. PGE customers have the option to donate an additional $2.50  a month when purchasing power from renewable sources such as wind. Administered by The Nature Conservancy, your donation directly supports salmon habitat protection and restoration projects across Oregon.