Relationships between Alaskan salmon catch and North Pacific climate on interannual and interdecadal time scales

  • Downton M
  • Miller K
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Using multivariate time series models, Alaska's statewide commercial catch of three salmon species during 1925-1994 is shown to be related to surface temperatures in particular large regions of the eastern North Pacific. Previous research has indicated that interdecadal changes in Alaskan catch levels are related to large-scale changes in the climate regime of the North Pacific. The present work focuses on interannual variability by controlling for climatic shifts in the mid-1940s and mid-1970s. For sockeye (Oncorhynchus nerka) and chum (O. keta), relationships with temperature occur within a few months after ocean entry with warmer regional temperatures enhancing survival. For sockeye and pink salmon (O. gorbuscha), relationships with temperature occur at the time and location of the return migration, suggesting that colder ocean temperatures may enhance spawning success or egg survival. In addition, the models show a significant positive relationship of chum catch to pink catch 2 years earlier, suggesting a common influence on smelts of the two species. The results support the contention that climatic factors affecting the marine environment play a significant role in salmon production on interannual, as well as interdecadal, time scales.

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  • Mary W Downton

  • Kathleen A Miller

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