Pesticides and salmon: Can we see a light at the end of the tunnel? – Watching Our Water Ways

Once again, the National Marine Fisheries Service has determined in official findings that three common pesticides — chlorpyrifos, diazinon and malathion — raise the risk of extinction for threatened and endangered salmon. By extension, for the first time, the agency also concluded that those same pesticides threaten Puget Sound’s endangered orca population by putting their prey — chinook and other salmon — at risk. This politically and legally charged issue — which has been around for more than 15 years — has gone beyond a debate over potential harm from pesticides. It also raises uncomfortable questions about whether our society will follow science as we try to solve environmental problems. Chris Dunagan reports. (Watching Our Water Ways)

Salmon fishing restrictions may get ‘severe’ – KING

It appears that we are going to need to take more draconian steps to save the remaining Chinook. While no one wants to see salmon fishing undergo more restrictions, it’s better than not having any of the fish left here. California already is in that situation.

A salmon fishing agreement between the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife and tribal co-managers is fueling continued angst by many recreational fishermen who fear it will force severe closures. The Comprehensive Management Plan for Puget Sound Chinook was recently released after a long secret court mediation process. If approved, it could place severe restrictions on salmon fishing around Puget Sound. Because the plan was reached in secret, it’s also reignited a rallying cry for transparency from WDFW and tribal co-managers…. Both the Attorney General’s office and representatives from WDFW explained that the mediation process required non-disclosure from all parties. If approved by NOAA, the plan would reduce the exploitation rate from 12 percent to 8 percent on wild Chinook for the next 10 years. That means only 8 percent of the wild Chinook expected to return to their natal streams can be impacted by fishing. Alison Morrow reports/ (KING)

An excellent overview of the state of the salmon in Puget Sound

Chris Dunagan is one of the best reporters in the Pacific NW covering the Salish Sea. Here’s a great overview of the state of the salmon.

Are we making progress on salmon recovery?

In recent decades, hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent to restore habitat for Puget Sound salmon. In this article, we look at how scientists are gauging their progress. Are environmental conditions improving or getting worse? The answer may depend on where you look and who you ask. Chris Dunagan reports. (Salish Sea Currents)

Return of the kings! Chinook salmon observed in undammed portion of Elwha River – Park & PDN

As the old saying goes, “nature abhors a vacuum”. The Olympic National Park have announced (and reported and commented on by The Peninsula Daily News) that chinook (King) salmon have been spotted above the site of the lower of the two dams that have been removed. This is the first time in almost a century that they have been able to reach this location. In addition to the Kings, Steelhead have also been seen in above the first dam.

The power of restoration again shows that once a place has been restored, nature tries and fill it, if the species still are alive.

The news bulletin from the park

Additional information on the story at the PDN.

Thoughts on Salmon– Saving them, catching them

This week’s editorial by People For Puget Sound’s Tom Bancroft, addresses the question, “Is Salmon Extinction the Option?”

How are salmon doing in Puget Sound?  Turns out, Chinook salmon are not doing too well according to a report recently released by NOAA, not any better now than 10 years ago when salmon species in Puget Sound were listed on the Endangered Species List. NOAA’s recent report highlights that we are still losing more habitat than restoring and have not addressed toxic pollutant runoff to a sufficient level to reverse the adverse effects of toxic pollutants on fish survival.

The causes are many. Growing population around the Sound, destruction of salmon habitat, sometimes by people with the best of intentions, sometimes by raw greed, sometimes by lack of regulations and sometimes by lack of enforcement of the regulations. A century of storm water runoff that will take a century more to fix. And lets’ not forget that all major sewage systems, even treated, are dumped into the Sound.

It’s not enough to say that we want to save the salmon, a huge public resource that could have been managed for generations to come to have low cost protein, but we have squandered that opportunity decades ago, and now it’s time to do what we can to bring them back.

The Good News:

Watching the salmon derby winners on the Strait of Juan de Fuca bring in good sized fish, really huge for these days, In Gardiner, in February, 18 to 20 lb fish were caught, in Anacortes 16 to 18lb fish were caught, and in B.C. at the Juan de Fuca derby outside of Victoria, the top fish was 40 lbs, and the top ten all topped 25! This derby has raised over $200k (Canadian) to support salmon enhancement activities.

The study by NOAA that Tom mentions in his blog, states that “The Co-Managers (the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and Puget Sound Treaty Tribes, collectively) met or exceeded the harvest management performance measures required in the 2004 Harvest Management Plan.

But there are deep concerns, the study states:

  • Habitat is still declining.
  • Habitat protection still needs improvement
  • Habitat restoration is heavily tilted towards capital intensive projects (think Elwha Dam).
  • Funding levels are inadequate to achieve restoration of Chinook populations.
  • Staffing for core programs remains insufficient.
  • There is no process in place to recognize changes that are being made to recovery plan strategies as implementation proceeds. 
  • The Hatchery programs remain critically underfunded.

How big could Chinook get? In 2008 a California Fish and Game Wildlife Biologist found what is thought to be the largest Chinook in modern times. It had spawned and died, and it’s body was found.


Unaltered photo of actual Chinook body found in California in 2008. Notice the kind of habitat behind them. It’s not developed.

Your support in helping local officials and non profits that are working to achieve these goals, including adoption of strong Shoreline Master Programs and Critical Areas Ordinances go a long way to helping protect our remaining salmon habitat and someday possibly seeing Chinook such as this in our Olympic Peninsula streams. 

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