About the Salmon:
Even if you have never even visited ‘Pike Place Market‘ in Seattle, you’ve probably heard about the fish company where they entertain a crowd by tossing salmon over the counter into their customers hands.
The Pike Place Fish Market does a good business and it is such great fun! But, the decline of Puget Sound Salmon is not something to laugh about. Puget Sound Chinook Salmon, Hood Canal summer chum, bull trout and Puget Sound steel-head are all listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Coho Salmon are federally listed as a species of concern.
What is the problem?
Salmon does provide an important role in both the marine and terrestrial food webs. Birds, marine mammals, larger fish, and many other organisms consume salmon. The huge numbers of salmon juveniles are a food source for many organisms.
Returning adult salmon nourish the streams and nearby riparian forests throughout the entire Puget Sound region with nutrients brought from the ocean and released by the decaying of their spawned-out carcasses. A defining characteristic of the ‘resident orca‘ is their diet of fish, preferably salmon.
The ‘factors limiting survival‘ of salmon include degraded water quality, low stream flows during key spawning times, high water flows that degrade critical spawning habitats, hatchery practices, harvest, migration barriers such as dams and culverts, ocean conditions and the loss of the key habitat in some marine near-shore areas, estuaries, and as well as river environments needed for ‘juvenile rearing‘.
What is being done?
For more than 10 years, countless government agencies, tribes, environmental organizations and individuals have put aside their differences and worked together at the watershed level to come up with solutions for the salmon dilemma.
Local actions to recover salmon:
Improving harvest management, including harvest reductions, to protect weak wild stocks. Reforming hatchery practices to support wild salmon recovery. Restoring marine habitat, including estuaries, deltas and marine shorelines, which are critical to juvenile salmon rearing and migration to and from the ocean. Opening access above dams and improving fish passages at the culverts and other fish barriers. Restoring and protecting fresh water habitat including adding large woody debris, restoring side channels and planting native vegetation along steam banks. Addressing landslide, sedimentation and other problems that harm the water quality.