Expert Report

Each report is produced by a committee of experts selected by the Academy to address a particular statement of task and is subject to a rigorous, independent peer review; while the reports represent views of the committee, they also are endorsed by the Academy. Learn more on our expert consensus reports.

Recent declines in the abundance of salmon in the Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim (AYK) region of western Alaska have created hardships for the people and communities who depend on this resource. In 2002, the AYK Sustainable Salmon Initiative (SSI) was created to undertake research to understand the reasons for this decline and to help support sustainable management in the region. This report makes recommendations for developing the research that the AYK SSI science plan should be based on, and relates the development of a restoration plan to the results of that research.

Key Messages

  • Current scientific information is not sufficient to explain the reasons for the low returns with any confidence.
  • Identifying the nature of the declines (or fluctuations) in salmon runs and their causes will take a great deal of research.
  • It is at least possible that the low returns represent population fluctuations rather than a long-term declining trend.
  • The data show clearly that salmon returns in the AYK region in the 1990s and early 2000s were lower than previously. Those low returns have caused considerable social and economic hardship in the region.