The Catalog of Waters Important for the Spawning, Rearing or Migration of Anadromous Fishes and its associated Atlas (the Catalog and Atlas, respectively) currently contain over 18,000 streams, rivers or lakes around the state which have been specified as being important for the spawning, rearing or migration of anadromous fish. Based upon thorough surveys of a few drainages it is believed that this number represents less than 50% of the streams, rivers and lakes actually used by anadromous species. It is estimated that at least an additional 20,000 or more anadromous water bodies have not been identified or specified under AS 16.05.871(a).
The Catalog and Atlas are important because they specify which streams, rivers and lakes are important to anadromous fish species and therefore afforded protection under AS 16.05.871. Water bodies that are not "specified" within the Catalog and Atlas are not afforded that protection. To be protected under AS 16.05.871, water bodies must be documented as supporting some life function of an anadromous fish species (salmon, trout, char, whitefish, sturgeon, etc.) Anadromous fish must have been seen or collected and identified by a qualified observer. Most nominations come from Department of Fish and Game fisheries biologists. Others are received from private individuals, companies and biologists from other state and federal agencies.