Fish pens and Education

Central Coast Salmon Enhancement (CCSE) was created in 1983 by a close group of anglers for the goal of better fishing and education for communities about fish. We started out with fish pens filled with Chinook salmon in Port San Luis for more angling opportunities. We also began delivering "Trout in the Classroom" programs to local schools to help connect Central Coast kids to native rainbow trout living in local creeks. (Rainbow trout become known as "steelhead" when some of them migrate to sea and grow large. Trout, steelhead and salmon are all in the salmon family.) In the late eighties and nineties, the salmon fishery on the Central Coast collapsed and in 1997 Central Coast steelhead became listed as threatened. We decided that we needed to shift our mission.



Education and restoration

California Department of Fish & Game (now Department of Fish & Wildlife) had been supportive of the CCSE fish pens, but that changed after steelhead were added to the Endangered Species listing. In 2005, the state decided that the Chinook salmon we were releasing posed a competitive threat to local steelhead, so they shut down the pens. We had already begun to shift our mission toward restoring the steelhead trout population through scientific surveys of Central Coast creek habitat, and to the education of the community on the ecology and economics of these resources.



Education, restoration and science 

To be dedicated to the local creeks means being connected to every watershed in the Central Coast. Through relentless commitment to seeking input from stakeholders that continues to this day, CCSE drafted a library of watershed management plans so every community could have the knowledge and resources to restore their local creeks.

The process of learning what it will take for wildlife and people to thrive together in the decades to come has allowed us to develop wonderful partnerships with landowners, government agencies, other environmental nonprofits, and smart businesses. Together with our partners we are positioned to help lead Central Coast communities into a future in which the interests of humans and natural ecosystems are more balanced. As we begin a new chapter in our 35 year journey, we do so as proven innovators in watershed science with the vision, scientific rigor, passion, and ability to inspire others toward a “fish-friendly future” on California’s Central Coast.