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The various fish habitat management and protection tools in Alaska are based on our knowledge of the distribution of individual resident and anadromous fish species and life stages. Anadromous fish, for example salmon, are those that hatch in fresh water, then migrate to ocean for the majority of their lives, and ultimately return to the same fresh water body to spawn. Due to the vastness of Alaska's streams and rivers (which total approximately 750,000 miles in length), and more than three million lakes, only a fraction of the actual anadromous fish freshwater habitats have been documented. The department’s Catalog of Waters Important for the Spawning, Rearing, or Migration of Anadromous Fishes (see the June 2015 Alaska Fish and Wildlife News article “” by J Johnson) currently lists almost 19,000 streams, rivers, or lakes around the state, which have been identified as being important for the spawning, rearing, or migration of anadromous fish. However, based upon thorough surveys of a few drainages it is believed that this number represents less than fifty percent of the streams, rivers, and lakes actually used by anadromous species. An even smaller percentage of resident fish habitats have been documented. Inventorying more freshwater systems will provide better knowledge of fish distribution and habitats important to sustaining wild fish populations.
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