It's the Little Things: Forage Fish Ecology and Management in the Salish Sea

Tessa Francis

Start Time & Date

Start Time & Date


Video of the Zoom webinar


Forage fish are small, schooling fish that are highly abundant and foundational in most marine ecosystems. Forage fish are delicious and nutritious and, therefore, are crucial delivery systems of nutrients and energy to many fish, birds, and mammals. The shallow, nearshore habitats of the Salish Sea are important nursery areas for forage fish as well as the juveniles of other important species, including Pacific salmonids, but shorelines are heavily impacted by human activities, leading to a heavy emphasis in the region on restoring and preserving natural shoreline habitat. But what really limits forage fish populations? Does shoreline restoration matter to juvenile fishes, including salmon? In this talk, I'll describe the importance of forage fish to the Salish Sea ecosystem, as well as some of the major threats to their conservation, with a focus on Pacific herring. I'll talk about what limits herring populations, which have been in decline in recent years in the Salish Sea, and potential management strategies and challenges. And I'll share results from a project aimed at understanding the benefits of one management strategy, shoreline armor removal, for juvenile fish. 

Tessa Francis

Dr. Tessa Francis is the Lead Ecosystem Ecologist at the University of Washington Tacoma’s Puget Sound Institute, and the Managing Director of the Ocean Modeling Forum. She is an aquatic ecologist, working to connect science to decisions in a variety of settings. Tessa currently leads several research projects related to the conservation and management of coastal social-ecological systems, employing a combination of field observations, qualitative and quantitative analytical approaches with agency, tribal and First Nations, industry, NGO and academic partners. Tessa holds a BA in Political Science from UC Berkeley, a BS in Wildlife Science from the University of Washington, and a PhD in Zoology and Urban Ecology from the University of Washington.

Herring (in a person's hand)

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The Environmental Speaker Series is hosted by the College of the Environment at Western Washington University.

The Series is free and open to the public.

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Presentations are held each Thursday at 4:30pm On-campus and ONLINE.


Due to the pandemic, the in-person presentations are not open to the public. However, the talks will be live-streamed ONLINE for the off-campus audience.


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