Tag Archives: Chinook salmon

Impossible Choices: The Complicated Task of Saving Both Orca and Salmon

Decades of politics and foot-dragging have stymied the recovery of threatened and endangered Chinook salmon, while an iconic population of killer whales that depends on them veered toward extinction. Now, a last-ditch effort to save the whales may also be what thwarts the recovery of Chinook. The Southern Resident killer whales are dying. An extended family of 75 orcas living year-round in the sea surrounding the San Juan Islands near Seattle, their numbers never fully rebounded since aquariums that later became SeaWorld captured a third of them in the late 1960s. And there are other culprits. Cargo ships and whale-watching boats zip through the Salish Sea, adding noise that interferes with the whales’ ability to locate each other and their prey. The water they live in is toxic. The Puget Sound outside Seattle is tainted with flame retardant, and PCBs and pollutants gush from nearby rivers into the sea. >click to read<10:13

Fishermen concerned about salmon boycott at Seattle restaurants

There is new concern about the impacts restaurants may be having on the commercial fishing industry as a growing number of Seattle chefs decide to remove Chinook salmon from their menus to help rebuild the fish population and save the orcas.,, But many are concerned the boycott is counterproductive. Pete Knutson, a long-time commercial fisherman and commissioner of the Puget Sound Salmon Commission, points out that most of the Chinook that end up on restaurant menus are harvested after they’ve already passed through the areas where the orcas feed. Video >click to read<11:18

Giving up Chinook Is a Nice Idea but It Will Not Save the Orcas

The Seattle Times published a heart-warming/heart-breaking story Wednesday about chef Renee Erickson, who recently announced that she will be yanking Chinook salmon from her restaurant menus in response to Tahlequah, aka J35, the Salish Sea orca who became an international cause célèbre after carrying her dead baby for 17 days. “It’s sad,” Erickson told the Times. “I love eating [chinook], and I grew up catching it.” But, she added, “The biggest gut wrench is that we have starving orcas. We are eating the salmon they need to eat.”,,  Taking chinook off restaurant menus (and your own shopping list) is a commendable action. But, unfortunately, it won’t save the whales. It’s kind of like every other environmental crisis: >click to read<09:59

Salmon decline reveals worrisome trend

The sad story of an orca carrying her dead calf for 17 days off the Washington coast this month has garnered global attention to the plight of killer whales in the region. It has also highlighted the steep decline in the region’s salmon stocks, the resident orcas’ sole food source. ,, That is because the availability of Pacific Ocean salmon has been trending low for the past decade. The total pounds of chinook salmon caught off the Oregon coast in 2017 fell 40% compared with the year before, according to Oregon Department Fish & Wildlife (ODFW) data. Between 2014 and 2017, total pounds caught dropped 80% and the value of the catch dropped 72% to $5 million. Drought in California and nutrient-starved ocean conditions are blamed for the decline. >click to read<16:15

Southeast Alaska commercial troll summer king season opens July 1

Southeast Alaska’s commercial salmon trollers open their summer season for king salmon July 1st with a harvest target of 53,800 Chinook. The fleet is expected to catch that in a short opening. That’s after low catches and restricted fishing for kings this spring. The first summer opening is expected to last four or five days and will be managed in-season. That means the Alaska Department of Fish and Game will announce a closure once the catch nears that harvest target. Grant Hagerman is the department’s troll management biologist for Southeast and says fishing in the spring season has been slow. Audio report, >click to read<17:06

Save salmon; kill sea lions

Another spring, another much anticipated migration of “Kings of the Columbia,” our Pacific Northwest’s most revered salmonoid, the chinook salmon. Or perhaps not. At one-time chinook and their cousins migrated upstream by the hundreds of thousands. No longer. Salmon and steelhead are on the fast track to becoming endangered species. The Columbia River has its problems when considering fish migrations. The dams, commercial transportation, irrigation demands, you name it. These problems are solvable, but it will take time. There is now one glaring problem that can be simply and quickly resolved. >click to read<15:05

Governor-Led Orca Recovery Effort to Hold First Meeting on Tuesday

An orca conservation team convened by Gov. Jay Inslee is holding its first meeting on Tuesday. The Southern Resident Killer Whale Recovery Task Force will focus on ways to help the Northwest’s iconic species. Stephanie Solien, who is co-chairing the Task Force, says many of the remaining orcas are in bad shape. She says the Task Force will focus on three of the well-known threats to the whales. Solien says conservation will be a statewide effort, especially when it comes to saving the chinook salmon the whales feed on. Watch out! >click to read<14:23

Oregon Fish and Wildlife commissioners back gillnetters

The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission is again pushing for commercial salmon fishermen to get time on the Columbia River. Oregon and Washington state adopted a policy nearly six years ago to slowly phase gillnetters off the river’s main stem, but Oregon has second-guessed the wisdom of the decision. The five commissioners at a meeting in Astoria on Friday said they supported looking into a summer Chinook salmon season for gillnetters — something they attempted to do last year. Commissioners walked back that move, however, after Gov. Kate Brown instructed them to align with her administration and Washington state. >click to read<21:04

Commercial fishermen hit hard by king cuts

Commercial king salmon fishermen will have a tough time making ends meet this summer. The all-gear harvest limit for Chinook salmon — the pot of king salmon divided between gear groups in Southeast — is about 40 percent smaller this year, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced Wednesday. The reduction, from nearly 210,000 fish in 2017 to 130,000 in 2018, is based on an index of the abundance of fish ADFG expects to spawn on Southeast and transboundary rivers this summer. ADFG is expecting record-low returns of king salmon,,, >click to read<10:36

Support HR-200 – Chinook Salmon ‘Overfished’? Not So Fast, Say Fishermen

For fishery regulators, it is official: The Sacramento River’s fall-run Chinook salmon are “overfished.”,,, “Are you kidding me? They aren’t overfished!” exclaimed Half Moon Bay commercial fisher Kirk Lombard, irate upon hearing about the designation. “Fishing isn’t the problem. They had a few terrible years with almost no water.”,,, The reason the term is used, then, is because of a federal law – the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act of 1976. This law, which sets the framework for managing sustainable fisheries, states that a population of fish that falls below a predetermined minimum population level is “overfished.” Support HR-200 >click to read< 10:24

California’s Salmon Industry Set to Take Another Hit

Fisheries managers will impose the toughest restrictions on California’s salmon harvest in nearly a decade, hobbling the billion-dollar industry that depends on it. This year’s fall salmon run is estimated to be only a quarter of normal on California’s Sacramento River, due mostly to drought conditions and warmer ocean temperatures. As a result, officials at the Pacific Fishery Management Council last week moved to cut the commercial season by as much as a third of its standard length. >click to read< 10:42

This Is Why You Don’t See People-Sized Salmon Anymore

While the orcas of Puget Sound are sliding toward extinction, orcas farther north have been expanding their numbers. Their burgeoning hunger for big fish may be causing the killer whales’ main prey, chinook salmon, to shrink up and down the West Coast. Chinook salmon are also known as kings: the biggest of all salmon. They used to grow so enormous that it’s hard now to believe the old photos in which fishermen stand next to chinooks almost as tall as they are, sometimes weighing 100 pounds or more. >click to read<11:06

Largest Chinook salmon disappearing from West Coast

The largest and oldest Chinook salmon — fish also known as “kings” and prized for their exceptional size — have mostly disappeared along the West Coast. That’s the main finding of a new University of Washington-led study published Feb. 27 in the journal Fish and Fisheries. The researchers analyzed nearly 40 years of data from hatchery and wild Chinook populations from California to Alaska, looking broadly at patterns that emerged over the course of four decades and across thousands of miles of coastline. In general, Chinook salmon populations from Alaska showed the biggest reductions in age and size, with Washington salmon a close second. >click to read<17:14

Fish Board: Spotter planes out, Chinook actions on hold for now

The Alaska Board of Fisheries voted to ban spotter planes in Southeast salmon fisheries and provided some relief to struggling commercial troll fishermen on Friday, the first full day of deliberations for the board. Though the board made significant changes to Southeast finfish regulations, Juneau fishermen were left with a cliffhanger: salmon action plans aimed at protecting struggling Taku and Chilkat river Chinook — which could leave fishermen docked for a significant part of the season — won’t be voted on until at least Saturday morning. >click here to read< 17:19

Money fish rule

Once more trawlers in the Bering Sea have gone to court in an effort to stop the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) from billing them for the costs of managing Chinook salmon in the Bering Sea.,,, U.S. Commerce Department “cost recovery regulations, as applied to catcher-processor sector participants violate the (Magnuson-Stevens Act) MSA and (Administrative Procedures Act) APA, are arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion and not in accordance with law, and are in excess of statutory jurisdiction, authority or limitations and short of statutory right,” the trawlers charged in a lawsuit filed Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for Alaska. click here to read the story 08:25

This area of Canada is becoming known for its truly gigantic salmon

Ted Walkus may have made the catch of the year at Rivers Inlet, B.C. Walkus, a hereditary chief of Wuikinuxv First Nation, caught a salmon that makes the fish most of us see at the supermarket look like sardines. It was a 50-pound monster, nearly as tall as Walkus himself. Catching a fish this big isn’t a total anomaly in the area. Rivers Inlet is known as something of a lost world, one of the only places on Earth where massive Chinook salmon are born. The biggest-ever salmon caught in the area was an incredible 83.3 pounds. click here to read the story 15:50

Net-mounted LED lights help reduce bycatch in Pacific hake fishery

LED lights can help reduce bycatch by aiding the escape of Chinook salmon from Pacific hake trawl nets, according to a study done by researchers at the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission and the Northwest Fisheries Science Center. The lights influence where salmon exit bycatch-reducing windows in the hake nets, and could increase the total number of salmon that escape, the researchers say. In a series of tests in 2015, the lights seemed to attract the Chinook salmon. During the tests, 86 percent of the salmon that escaped used the openings framed by LED lights. click here to read the story 15:48

Endangered orcas compete with seals, sea lions for salmon

Harbor seals, sea lions and some fish-eating killer whales have been rebounding along the Northeast Pacific Ocean in recent decades. But that boom has come with a trade-off: They’re devouring more of the salmon prized by a unique but fragile population of endangered orcas. Competition with other marine mammals for the same food may be a bigger problem than fishing, at least in recent years, for southern resident killer whales that spend time in Washington state’s Puget Sound, a new study suggests. click here to read the story 07:43

Record Chinook Salmon, Steelhead Returns Reported on Mokelumne River

For many years after Camanche Dam was built, the Mokelumne River, a major tributary of the San Joaquin River and the Delta, hosted small runs of Chinook salmon. The historic runs of steelhead after the construction of the dam averaged only 100 fish and no steelhead returned to spawn many years. But both steelhead and salmon runs have rebounded in recent years, due to a number of factors. In welcome good news for Central Valley salmon populations, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and the East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) report record fall spawning returns of Chinook salmon and steelhead to the Mokelumne River, a tributary of the San Joaquin River.,, The hatchery has received 13,799 adult salmon to date—compared to 4,129 at this point last year—and is expected to break the record return of 18,000 in 2011. click here to read the story 20:33

Warning signs for salmon

The numbers of young salmon caught off the Oregon and Washington state coasts during an annual federal survey cruise this June were among the lowest recorded in the past 20 years. In fact, numbers were low across nearly all the species researchers regularly catch or observe — from birds like the common murre to forage fish like anchovies and smelt. Months ahead of schedule, as a kind of heads up, West Coast researchers, project managers and program directors decided to send out a memo in mid-August detailing their initial findings — data that would usually be combined with other information and put out on a webpage at the end of the year. The data is preliminary, but researchers say it is clear many young coho and Chinook salmon didn’t survive the migration from freshwater streams and rivers to the ocean this year, while poor ocean conditions could impact salmon returns to the Columbia River for the next few years. click here to read the story 21:44

Kings off limits starting Thursday: ADF&G cites low chinook salmon stocks coastwide

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game on Thursday will shut down commercial and salt-water sport chinook salmon fishing throughout Southeast Alaska. “Extreme management measures” are needed to protect kings originating from Southeast Alaska, Northern British Columbia, the Fraser River of British Columbia and the coast of Washington state, according to an announcement made late Monday by Fish and Game. The region wide commercial and sport chinook closures are effective 12:01 a.m. Thursday and will last at least through Sept. 30, according to the department. “We didn’t miss fish,” Fish and Game Deputy Commissioner Charles Swanton said late Monday of fishing efforts in the region. “The fish just aren’t there.” click here to read the story 14:30

California likely to shorten chinook salmon season

With chinook salmon at its lowest population in years, West Coast fishery managers are considering a proposal to strictly limit the commercial season and to delay its start around the San Francisco Bay from its usual May date to August. A final decision will be made on Tuesday. “You’re probably going to find it only in your upscale grocery stores and upscale restaurants, and it’s not going to be always available. It’s probably not going to be cheap,” said Dave Bitts, a Eureka fisherman and adviser to the Pacific Fishery Management Council, which manages fisheries in the federal waters off California, Oregon and Washington. Click here to read the story 08:55

Study says seals eat more Chinook than Southern resident killer whales

Seals are eating more Chinook than Southern resident killer whales. That’s bad for both endangered species’ recoveries. “The seals might not be the enemy as much as the problem is that we’ve lost forage fish available to them,” said Joe Gaydos, science director of the SeaDoc Society on Orcas Island. According to a recent Canadian study, the amount of Chinook salmon eaten by seals in the Salish Sea has increased from 68 metric tons in 1970 to 625 metric tons in 2015. That’s double the amount Southern resident killer whales ate in 2015 in the same location, and six times more than commercial and recreational fisheries according to the study. Continue reading the story here 12:20

Feds Facing Order to Redirect Klamath River Water for Salmon

Two Native American tribes sued the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation last year, claiming its bungled management of Klamath River waterways allowed a deadly parasite to infect 91 percent of endangered juvenile Coho and Chinook salmon.  The Yurok and Hoopa Valley Tribes say they depend on the salmon for subsistence, income and for traditional ceremonies that define their people. Lawyers for the federal government and an industry group of farmers and ranchers argue that diverting water to help salmon will harm businesses that support local jobs and communities and threaten another set of endangered fish, the shortnose sucker and Lost River sucker. In separate complaints against the federal government, the tribes say infection rates caused by the deadly parasite C. shasta, should have required the bureau to review its Klamath Irrigation Project’s impact on threatened salmon two years ago, but the bureau failed to take action in violation of the Endangered Species Act.During a hearing Friday, U.S. District Judge William Orrick III agreed the bureau should have reviewed the project when infection rates climbed to 81 percent in 2014 and 91 percent in 2015, well beyond the maximum 49 percent estimated in a 2013 biological opinion issued by co-defendant National Marine Fisheries Service. Read the story here 16:47

President Obama Signs Water Bill With Big Ag ‘Poison Pill’ Rider

In a slap in the face to fishermen, Tribes, environmental justice advocates, conservationists and family farmers, President Obama on December 16 signed the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act into law with its environmentally destructive Big Ag rider sponsored by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Congressman Kevin McCarthy (R-CA). The controversial rider in the bill, opposed by retiring Senator Barbara Boxer, taints an otherwise good bill that sponsors water projects across the nation. The last minute rider, requested by corporate agribusiness interests, allows San Joaquin Valley growers and Southern California water agencies to pump more water out of the Delta, driving Sacramento River winter-run Chinook salmon, Central Valley steelhead, Delta and longfin smelt, green sturgeon and other fish species closer and closer to extinction, according to Delta advocates. Read Dan Bachers article here 15:05

Trading Salmon for Almonds

mike hudsonNorthern California fishermen have endured an extremely difficult year. Fishery managers closed the entire commercial salmon fishing season for half of June and all of July in much of Northern California, and in general, ocean fishing has been poor the past few years off the California coast. The drought is to blame, along with excessive water diversions from the streams where Chinook salmon spawn. So it’s frustrating for commercial fishermen like Mike Hudson of Berkeley to hear that another part of the state’s food industry—almonds—is expecting a record crop in 2016. Almond farmers draw water from the same river systems in which Chinook salmon lay and fertilize their eggs, and to Hudson—a longtime critic of unsustainable agriculture, including growing thirsty crops like almonds in the dry San Joaquin Valley—it appears as though the farmer’s gain is his loss. Read the story here 18:31

Start of the wave? Sudden boatloads of Chinook salmon off Alberni raise hopes

start of the waveUp and down the West Coast commercial fishermen are filling harbours waiting and hoping for an opening to fish Chinook salmon. Despite preliminary estimates of a huge return, the best in decades, the fish haven’t shown up as predicted so nets that are many people’s livelihoods haven’t even gone into the water this season. But some optimism is showing up now for those who’ve been struggling. Surrounded by boats in Port Alberni’s harbour all waiting for the commercial opening for the Chinook salmon fishery Stephanie Cook is doing what she can to stop worrying. “It’s very stressful, very stressful wondering if you’re going to catch any or if there’s any out there,” says Cook aboard her boat. The 30-year-old from Alert Bay has never faced a year like this before. One that’s testing even the most experienced on this coast. Video, read the story here 08:47

What happened to all the Chinook Salmon? New research points to potential predators

salmsharkclsIn the 1960s, king salmon were abundant in Alaska, and it stayed that way through the 90s. After the new millennium, though, Chinook numbers fell — and they’ve remained low since. “People have scratched their heads and said, ‘Where are all the kings? What happened to all the kings?’” said Andy Seitz, an associate professor at the University of Alaska Fairbanks School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences. At a lecture in Unalaska this week, Seitz explained how his research team has studied adult Chinook in the Bering Sea for the last three years. The project relied on pop-up satellite tags, which attach to salmon and measure the water temperature, depth, and ambient light of their environment. Seitz and his team think warm-blooded salmon sharks ate the kings and their tags, and the odd data was recorded when fish were trapped in the sharks’ guts. He also said they found five instances where marine mammals and other unidentified predators could have killed Chinook. Read the story here 18:41

Yurok Tribe Files Intent to Sue National Marine Fisheries Service and the Bureau of Reclamation

272106c4c2f6f8b444d177f854f5ab8aIn response to massive fish disease outbreaks in back-to-back years on the Klamath River, the Yurok Tribe submitted a 60-day notice of intent to sue the National Marine Fisheries Service and the Bureau of Reclamation. “We cannot stand by and do nothing while our salmon hover over the brink of extinction,” said Thomas P. O’Rourke Sr., Chairman of the Yurok Tribe. “We will not continue to watch water managers jeopardize the fate of our fish and our river.” 91 percent of the juvenile, Klamath salmon were infected with a deadly parasite in 2015, as were a nearly identical number of fish in 2014. Given the nearly 100 percent mortality rate associated with the disease, approximately 90 percent of the Chinook salmon and likely an equal quantity of coho died in the main-stem Klamath River during those years, according to the notice. This year’s predicted adult salmon run is one of the lowest on record, which forced the Yurok Tribe to make a difficult decision to completely forgo all commercial fishing in 2016. Read the rest here 15:22

Chinook Salmon: 9 Facts About Oregon’s Official State Fish

The state of Oregon designated the Chinook or king salmon as its state fish in 1961. The newly minted state of Alaska then followed suit in 1962. Here are nine facts about the Chinook salmon that help to explain why it is so important to fishing in Oregon and elsewhere.  1. The Chinook is the biggest of all of the Pacific salmons, growing as long as 53 inches and weighing as much as 126 pounds,,, Read the rest here 09:54