Most Washington Salmon Returns Predicted To Be Worse Than Last Year

"A lean year for orcas and fishermen alike is expected, with poor salmon returns forecast for many species all over [Washington] state.

Fisheries professionals are working to set fishing seasons on both sides of the U.S.-Canada border for the coming year. So far the news is grim, with salmon forecast to return at just fractions of 10-year averages. For the southern residents, it will be another tough year ahead, with even fewer fish forecast this year than last in many of the important rivers the whales rely on in their seasonal migratory rounds. Below-average returns are predicted from the Fraser to the Columbia, as well as smaller body sizes for most species, according to Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

Returns of spring chinook to the Columbia are predicted to be down 14 percent from last year, and at just half the 10-year average. These fish return mostly to hatcheries, but also to some spawning areas above Bonneville dam, and are a mainstay for orcas and fishermen alike. Those fish are particularly important to endangered southern-resident killer whales because of their size, fat content and seasonal timing. Upriver bright and fall chinook returns to the Columbia are also at about half the 10-year average return."

Lynda V. Mapes reports for the Seattle Times environment reporter February 27, 2019.

Source: Seattle Times, 02/28/2019