Coastal coho salmon are what the state of Oregon and federal government call “an evolutionary significant unit” (ESU). The current status of the coastal coho ESU reflects a reduction in fishery harvest, improved hatchery management, and extensive habitat restoration work under the Oregon Plan for Salmon and Watersheds.
As recently as 2006, despite a historical plunge in numbers of fish returning to spawn in Oregon coastal streams, state and federal biologists concluded that the numbers of fish were on the upswing such that the species could be taken from the list of threatened and endangered species under the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA).
As an outcome of a lawsuit by Trout Unlimited and others, a Federal court ordered that NOAA Marine Fisheries Service must re-list the fish. This has some important implications for North Coast watershed councils, land managers and others, although some of our salmon runs are already ESA-listed. You can read an article on this topic in the Oregonian by clicking here.
Important points about the coastal coho verses other species of salmon:
1. Coho use low-gradient streams for spawning.
2. Estuaries and wetlands are important for coho survival over it’s lifecycle.
3. Coho can be hatchery reared, though the survival rate of hatchery fish is often lower than wild ones.