New Report Looks at Impact of Climate Change on Trout and Salmon

Wed, 12/05/2007

New Report Looks at Impact of Climate Change on Trout and Salmon

December 5, 2007


Jack Williams, TU Senior Scientist (541) 261-3960
Erin Mooney TU Press Secretary (703) 284-9408

New Report Looks at Impact of Climate Change on Trout and Salmon
Report Analyzes Warming Climate’s Effect on Fish and Rivers

Washington, D.C. – Though climate change will have a dramatic effect on trout and salmon populations, a new report says that much can be done now to prevent widespread fish declines in rivers and streams around the country.

Trout Unlimited’s new report, Healing Troubled Waters, highlights how global warming will affect our nation’s trout and salmon populations and the waters in which they live.  Based on research by Trout Unlimited scientists, the report also provides recommendations for what can be done to help fish and rivers withstand these changes.

The report summarizes recent scientific studies that show that trout and salmon populations are likely to decline by 50% or more in regions around the country that will be most effected by global warming.  According to new studies by the U.S. Forest Service, some trout species like the bull trout, found in high-mountain areas of the West, could see as much as a 90% population loss. Many trout species already listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act will become increasingly vulnerable to extinction.  In addition, it has been shown that 20% to 40% of the Pacific Northwest’s salmon populations may disappear as a result of climate change.

“Climate change is not some uncertain future problem, it is happening right now and we see evidence in terms of reduced snowpack and earlier spring runoff,” said Jack Williams, Trout Unlimited’s senior scientist and one of the report’s authors. 

 “Salmon and trout are among our most vulnerable species and their protection in the face of a rapidly changing climate demands strong actions,” he continued.

In the Appalachians, scientists estimate that up to 90% of the wild brook trout there could be lost due to climate change.

Though the statistics paint a somewhat grim future scenario for coldwater fish, the report provides a framework for what can be done to help rivers and fish build resistance and resilience to the effects of climate change. By protecting high quality habitats and healthy fish populations, scientists hope that fish will be able to endure warmer water temperatures and additional stress as a result of a warming climate. The report points out that these investments are crucial now, before widespread changes occur.

With Congress prepared to address climate change, the opportunity exists for making this a legislative priority.
 “We are pleased to see that a number of members of Congress have recognized the need to fund and implement strategies such as these to combat climate change impacts on fish and wildlife resources and have introduced bills that would provide such funding,” said Steve Moyer, TU’s Vice President of Government Affairs. 

“One of the most promising is the Climate Security Act, S. 2191, introduced by Senators Warner (R-VA) and Lieberman (D-CT), to be marked up in the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee today, which would invest an estimated $175 billion thru the year 2037 on projects designed to enhance sustainability of fish and wildlife in the face of continuing climate change impacts.  We urge Congress to pass the legislation as soon as possible,” said Moyer.

The complete report is available at


Date: 12/5/2007


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