Anadromous Waters Catalog
According to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADFG), 322 of Southeast Alaska’s 5,000+ anadromous waterways are officially recognized as supporting annual escapements (or runs) of steelhead. The “officially recognized” part is key, as this means inclusion in the ADFG Anadromous Waters Catalog (AWC).
Alaska law requires the ADFG to specify the various waterways important for spawning, rearing, or migration of anadromous fishes. The AWC used to make this specification, and it consists of a numerically-ordered list of the water bodies with documented use by anadromous fish for these purposes. The data included in the AWC shows the location, name and number of these specified water bodies, the anadromous fish species using these water bodies, and the fish life history phases for which the water bodies are used (to the extent known).
Protection of these specified water bodies is addressed by Alaska law as well, which requires persons or governmental agencies to submit plans and specifications to ADF&G and receive written approval in the form of a Fish Habitat Permit prior to beginning the proposed use, construction or activity that would take place in specified water bodies.
Long story short, if a species isn’t included in the AWC for a particular water body, there are no protections afforded that species, and therein lies the rub: to conserve steelhead and their habitat in a waterway not listed as supporting them in the AWC, proof of their existence needed to be carefully and accurately documented.
Trout Unlimited has worked to increase the number of officially recognized anadromous streams by using citizen science – going to select Tongass 77 watersheds and surveying the area for steelhead.
Interested in helping with citizen science?