The one millionth salmon passed over the Bonneville Dam on the Columbia River this month. And the fall Chinook numbers are the highest they've been since counts began in 1938. But 80 percent of those are hatchery fish. Chinook still face extinction, and only 1 of 22 populations has increased in the past five years. Wild salmon have not recovered so well. So what's holding them back?
Chinook salmon returns are setting records on the Columbia this year. But 80 percent are hatchery fish. Thirteen wild salmon populations in the region are listed as endangered and 11 are threatened. The latest threat, warming waters, comes on top of the longstanding dangers of hydropower for salmon.
Fishermen around the Northwest are enjoying some exceptional salmon runs this autumn. Puget Sound is teeming with pink salmon and there's a record-breaking fall Chinook run in the Columbia and Snake Rivers.
The pink salmon run is strong this year. That's presented a challenge to the Army Corps of Engineers, which is responsible for moving returning salmon in the White River around the Buckley and Mud Mountain dams.
Leaders on salmon research and recovery from the United States and Canada came together in Seattle Wednesday to announce a new project.
It’s called the Salish Sea Marine Survival Project, and it’s meant to address a major question: Why aren’t salmon and steelhead in Washington and Canadian waters recovering, despite the millions of dollars that have been spent on research and habitat restoration?
“We have a fairly clear idea of what salmon need and what they’re doing in the freshwater environment. We know considerably less about the marine systems,” said Jacques White, executive director of Long Live The Kings. The Seattle-based nonprofit is coordinating the effort along with the Pacific Salmon Foundation in B.C.
White says the project will focus on answering questions about what’s happening to salmon and steelhead when they leave the freshwater rivers and enter Washington’s Puget Sound and British Columbia’s Georgia Strait.