Central California Coast coho salmon, Sacramento River winter run Chinook salmon and Alaska’s Cook Inlet beluga whales are earmarked for new five-year action plans aimed at moving them toward recovery.
NOAA Fisheries officials this past week said eight marine species identified as most at risk of extinction are included in the plan. The others are the Gulf of Maine population of Atlantic salmon, Hawaiian monk seals, Pacific leatherback sea turtles, Southern Resident killer whales in Puget Sound and white abalone.
The Central California Coast coho salmon were first listed as threatened in 1996 and subsequently reclassified as endangered in 2005. This particular species has teetered on the brink of extinction, NOAA notes. Conservation hatchery programs in Sonoma and Santa Cruz counties in California have boosted populations and prevented extinction, Pacific Coastal Salmonid Funds matched with California state grants have provided resources supportive of outreach, education and habitat restoration
Eileen Sobeck, assistant NOAA administrator for NOAA Fisheries, said to ensure these species have a fighting chance at recovery, the agency will need help from its partners and the public. She encourages people to visit NOAA’s Species in the Spotlight Action Plans site, at www.nmfs.noaa.gov, to learn about the science behind this effort and how they can help.
The action plans look at previous species recovery plans and highlight the focused, immediate actions needed to stabilize these species and help prevent their extinction.
One goal of the action plans includes expansion of flood plain and estuarine habitat restoration efforts to improve the fitness and survival of Central California Coast coho salmon. Sobeck said efforts are also aimed at detecting and preventing catastrophic disease outbreaks and disease-related mortality for Hawaiian monk seals, whose lack of genetic diversity leaves them vulnerable to respond to newly introduced diseases.