U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Emblem U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Salmon of the West
What is a salmon?
Why are salmon in trouble?
Who is in charge?
Voices of the West
Wild/Hatchery: a difference?
Why you should care
What is the FWS doing?
What you can do

Who is in charge?

salmon smoltsNo single agency is in charge of all salmon management because salmon swim across many geographical and political boundaries, which makes their management extremely complex. These "interjurisdictional" fish, as biologists call them, require a coordinated management effort from federal, state and tribal management organizations. Many non-governmental organizations also are involved in salmon conservation efforts.

Unfortunately, many of the West's salmon and steelhead populations are listed for protection under the federal Endangered Species Act, indicating they are in poor health and in some cases, in danger of becoming extinct. As a result, The National Marine Fisheries Service has a federal regulatory role to oversee their recovery. But recovery and restoration to full health of these precious resources in the responsibility of us all.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is a close partner with the National Marine Fisheries Service in recovery of stocks listed under the ESA and brings many programs to assist in the recovery of these salmon and steelhead.

While NMFS has regulatory authority for ESA-listed salmon and steelhead, the FWS has regulatory authority for resident fish species, such as bull trout, and terrestrial species – plants, birds and mammals – listed under the ESA. So as we work to protect and recover those species, we coordinate efforts with NMFS to maximize recovery efforts for all species that are using the same habitats – bull trout and salmon, for example. The FWS and the Department of the Interior also focus extensive resources and effort into preventing more salmon and steelhead populations from being listed under the ESA. We do this through our research and monitoring programs, our many programs to protect and restore habitat and the operation of our fish hatcheries.

The NMFS and the FWS participate in the Columbia Basin Federal Caucus, which coordinates salmon protection and recovery efforts among nine federal agencies. Others in the caucus include: the Army Corps of Engineers, the Bureau of Reclamation, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Bonneville Power Administration, the Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Indian tribes play a key co-management role in managing salmon fisheries and in conserving salmon populations through harvest management, tribal hatchery programs, habitat protection and restoration and biological studies. Salmon are a vital part of the religion, culture and well-being of Indian tribes in the Pacific Northwest. Through treaties with the United States in the mid-1850s, many tribes gave up most of their land but reserved the right of harvesting salmon and other natural resources. Presidential Executive Orders established other tribal reservations. To learn more about tribal efforts see the Web site of the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Idaho Department of Fish and Game and California Department of Fish and Game, and their respective fish and wildlife commissions, provide stewardship over salmon within each state's jurisdiction. They formulate and implement state programs and policies concerning management and conservation of salmon, protect and restore salmon and their habitats, manage hatcheries and regulate commercial and recreational salmon fisheries.

To learn more about the nine agencies responsible for salmon recovery see these links:




Pacific Region Home | USFWS Home Page