How are rapid environmental changes influencing Canadian-origin Yukon River Chinook declines?
Yukon River Chinook salmon have experienced devastating declines in recent years, leading to significant impacts on Yukon First Nation citizens. To address this growing conservation issue, we have collaborated with Yukon First Nations to understand their desires for improving salmon conservation capacity, and how we can support them in this endeavour. Together, we have identified some key avenues for research: first, what is responsible for salmon declines – climate change, fishing pressure, habitat loss, too many hatchery fish, or a combination? Armed with this extra information, we will create watershed-specific conservation strategies to help protect salmon and their habitats from future impacts. These strategies will be developed in collaboration with local First Nations to make sure that they are 1) desirable, 2) feasible, and 3) scientifically supported. Finally, as downstream fishing and increased climate change over the Alaskan border have been rising concerns for Yukon First Nations, we will use our data to determine if current harvest rates should be lowered in a warmer and more variable climate. Together, these actions will help Yukon First Nations maximize their local conservation impact, while also supporting their advocacy goals on the International stage.