Hood Canal Summer Chum Recovering

by Christopher Dunagan, Kitsap Sun, Saturday, June 20, 2009

While declining salmon runs have created turmoil up and down the West Coast, another kind of story is gradually unfolding in the Hood Canal region.

The more dramatic headlines about salmon focus on water conflicts in California, legal battles over dams on the Columbia River and concerns about the survival of orcas in Puget Sound.

At the same time, however, biologists are quietly celebrating a dramatic comeback by a unique race (??) of chum salmon that populate Hood Canal.

Adapted to low summer flows, these unusual salmon came close to extinction less than 20 years ago.

“Unique race” is not a scientific term relating to fish. Perhaps the reporter meant to say “small, localized population” of the Oncorhynchus keta species found in the north Pacific, in the waters of Korea, Japan, and the Okhotsk and Bering seas (Kamchatka, Chukotka, Kuril Islands, Sakhalin, Khabarovsk Krai, Primorsky Krai), British Columbia in Canada, and from Alaska to Oregon in the United States.

Gary Tripp of Bainbridge Concerned Citizens notes…

As the Kitsap Sun article says, Chum are recovering, because of:

  • Restrictions on Predators – in this case commercial fishermen licensed and fisheries managed by the State and Canada.
  • Reintroduction of Chum by the State to streams where the fish had gone extinct because of predation.
  • Restoration spawning habitat managed by the State and local agencies, and
  • Favorable ocean conditions (not controlled by the State).

It should be observed that none of these causes or cures for the problem of dwindling salmon stock involve…

  • Septic tanks
  • Bulkheads
  • Docks
  • Shoreline native vegetation on private property, or
  • Residential shoreline property owners.

One wonders why the State is focusing so much attention on regulating the use of personal property when “predation” appears to be the number one cause for declining fish populations. Maybe they have too much time on their hands, or too much taxpayer money to spend.


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