Gene Conservation Laboratory
Glossary of Terms

To assist with understanding technical language, definitions of commonly used terms used salmon management are listed here. See our glossary of terms for commonly used terms in genetic analyses.

  • alevin Baby fish, after the egg hatches, with a big yolk sac.
  • anadromous A fish that hatches in freshwater, migrates to the ocean to live and grow, and returns to freshwater to spawn.
  • biodiversity The vast variety of species and stocks within a species that sustain our fisheries through all of the changes caused by nature and humans. Earthquakes may destroy some stocks of fish, oil spills may destroy some stocks, and floods and droughts may hurt some stocks in some years. By maintaining a vast variety of stocks, these adverse effects can be buffered. Maintaining biodiversity is the best way that we can sustain the fisheries that Alaskans enjoy on a permanent basis.
  • brood (year) All salmon in a stock spawned in a specific year.
  • District Waters open to commercial salmon fishing. Commercial fishing districts, subdistricts and sections in commercial fishing areas are defined in statutes referenced below under �Salmon administrative area�.
  • Escapement (or Spawning Abundance or Spawners) The annual estimated size of the spawning salmon stock. The quality of escapement may be determined, not only by numbers of spawners, but also by factors such as sex ratio, age composition, temporal entry into the system, and spatial distribution with the salmon spawning habitat (from 5 AAC 39.222(f)).
  • embryo Baby fish inside of the egg.
  • fry Baby fish after yolk is absorbed.
  • Harvest The number of salmon or weight of salmon removed from the available fish through fishing activities.
  • Harvest Rate The fraction of the available fish harvested in fishing activities.
  • homing Pacific salmon are not only anadromous, but they also return to spawn in the same river or creek where they hatched and lived as fry.
  • parr marks Big oval spots on the sides of most fry.
  • redd A nest that females dig in the gravel for the eggs.
  • Run The number of salmon in a stock surviving to adulthood and returning to their natal streams in a calendar year. A run is composed of both harvested adult salmon and the escapement to spawning areas. A run can designate the annual return of fish in a calendar year. With the exception of pink salmon, a run is composed of several age classes because individuals from a given brood year mature at different times (from 5 AAC 39.222(f)).
  • Salmon Administrative Area (Area) Geographic areas used to administer the registration of commercial salmon fishing permits (from 20 AAC 05.230). Commercial salmon fishing areas are designated by letter code and are defined by Alaska administrative code.
  • Salmon Stock (Stock) A locally interbreeding group of salmon that is distinguished by a distinct combination of genetic, phenotypic, life history, and habitat characteristics, or an aggregation of two or more interbreeding groups, which occur in the same geographic area and are managed as a unit (from 5 AAC 39.222(f)). For this report, a "stock" is a composite of all populations within reporting groups.
  • smolts Baby fish that lose their parr marks and become silvery and are ready to migrate to the ocean.
  • spawn Females laying eggs and males fertilizing them with sperm.
  • species A biologist's way of saying type or kind. There are five species of Pacific salmon in Alaska.
  • Chinook salmon (kings or blackmouth salmon) These are the largest salmon as adults. Fry have fairly large, uniform parr marks, and adults have black gums. Chinook salmon often live from 5 to 7 years, and the biggest ones weigh over 90 pounds. They are important to subsistence fisherman, commercial trollers, and sport fishermen. In Alaska, Chinook salmon are common from the Yukon River to Ketchikan.
  • coho salmon (silvers). Coho salmon also have big parr marks, and adults usually weigh about 5 to 15 pounds. Most coho salmon only live 3 years. Adult coho salmon can be distinguished from Chinook salmon by white gums. They are commonly found south of Norton Sound. Coho salmon are important to many subsistence, commercial, and sport fishermen.
  • sockeye salmon (reds). Sockeye salmon fry have irregular parr marks. Adults often weigh 5 to 10 pounds and take on a red body color as they mature in freshwater. Fry almost always live in a lake for 1 to 2 years, and the adults spawn in watersheds that contain lakes. Sockeye salmon live to be 3 to 5 years old, and they are commonly found from Kuskokwim River to Ketchikan. Sockeye salmon are the most valuable fish to the commercial fishery, and they are mostly caught by gillnetters. They are also important for subsistence, personal use, and sport fishermen.
  • chum salmon (dogs). Chum salmon fry have smaller, irregular parr marks. The fry become smolts, loose their parr marks, and migrate to the ocean within a few weeks of absorbing the yolk sac. Chum salmon are sometimes called "dogs" because the male's jaw becomes very doggy looking as they mature. The snout changes shape and sharp teeth are exposed and they also take on a calico coloration. Chum salmon usually live 3 to 5 years and may weigh from 8 to 15 pounds. They are common throughout Alaska and are important to net fisherman and to subsistence fisherman.
  • pink salmon (humpies). Pink salmon fry have no parr marks. They hatch as little silvery smolts, and they can migrate into the ocean with little or no freshwater rearing. Pink salmon are called "humpies" because the males take on a distinctive humpback appearance as they mature to spawn. They always mature at 2-years old, and they usually weigh near 3 pounds. They are most valued by net fisherman and subsistence fishermen.