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COSEWIC assessment and status report on the coho salmon (Interior Fraser population) in Canada

Special Significance

Coho salmon remain an economically important species, contributing to commercial, recreational, and aboriginal catches along the Pacific coast of North America. Numbers of coho are declining throughout much of its range and some coho populations have become extinct (e.g. Nehlsen et al. 1991, Weitkamp et al. 1995, Slaney et al. 1996, Northcote and Atagi 1997) (Fig. 2). As of December 2001, coho salmon were threatened by extinction in three ESUs, candidates for listing by the US Endangered Species Act in two, and not likely to become endangered in only one ESU (Fig. 2). Coho salmon from the interior Fraser River coho are genetically distinct, constitute an ESU, and are a nationally significant population.

Stock status for coho in BC varies depending on location. The sizes of many populations in southern BC have declined greatly from historical levels (Simpson et al. 2000). Population status for coho from the central coast is poorly understood; coho from northern BC are generally doing better than their southern counterparts although the viability of populations in the upper Skeena River drainage was considered at risk several years ago (Holtby and Finnegan 1997). The status of coho salmon from the interior Fraser watershed appears to be worse than the status of coho from other areas in BC.