Key fish species trends in Puget Sound

Assessing Historical Abundance Trends for Key Marine Species to Support Ecosystem-based Management and Restoration of Puget Sound

Researchers integrate multiple datasets to assess long-term trends in key Puget Sound fish stocks and possible causes of decline, such as fishing, coastal growth, climate change, and proliferating seals and sea lions.

Principal Investigator

Timothy Essington, UW School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences

Co-Principal Investigators

Tessa Francis, University of Washington, Tacoma

Correigh Greene, NOAA Northwest Fisheries Science Center

Dayv Lowry, Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife

Eric Ward, NOAA Northwest Fisheries Science Center 


Unlike most major U.S. estuaries, Puget Sound has not received the long-term monitoring needed to determine how successful restoration and recovery efforts have been. To evaluate the status of its fish populations requires a comprehensive synthesis of historical data, but such an evaluation has only been conducted for one forage fish,Pacific herring. Much less is known about status and trends for such important species as Pacific hake, cod, walleye pollock and spiny dogfish. This  long-term historical assessment of key Puget Sound species will provide the baselines needed to gauge their current status and recovery potential. It will integrate and analyze nine datasets from university, state, federal and salmon-hatchery surveys ranging from 1947 to the present. This will make it possible to consider as never before the relative roles of fishing, population growth and climate change in driving fish losses. Researchers will also gauge the impacts of predation by growing seal and sea lion populations.