Efforts begin to restore ‘wild’ chinook to the Skokomish

Salmon managers are beginning to figure out what can be done to restore a natural run of chinook salmon on the Skokomish River.

Biologists sort wild chinook from hatchery returns at George Adams fish hatchery
Kitsap Sun photo

In a story in today’s Kitsap Sun along with a video, we describe how biologists have been moving chinook upstream from the George Adams hatchery on Purdy Creek to better spawning grounds in the South Fork of the Skokomish. The fish selected for transport are those with an intact adipose fin — which presumes that they were hatched in the river, because hatchery fish generally have their fins clipped off.

Over the years, the influence of hatcheries in the Skokomish River system has been so great that a genetically distinct wild stock can no longer be identified. Years ago, it was common to move salmon eggs around, so the stock may have some genetic traits from Green River and South Puget Sound chinook stocks.

For summer-fall chinook, the strategy for recovering a wild stock is somewhat different from other supplementation projects on Hood Canal. Typically, when hatcheries are used for the primary benefit of sport and commercial fishing, the goal is to keep wild and hatchery salmon separate from each other. This can be done by having the hatchery salmon arrive at a different time than the majority of the wild run or else return to a different place.

But the strategy developed by scientists for the Puget Sound and Coastal Washington Hatchery Reform Project recognizes the “composite” nature of the Skokomish stock and the need to maintain a viable hatchery run until degraded habitat is improved enough to sustain a natural stock. For details, download the Recommendations for Hood Canal (PDF 760 kb) by the Hatchery Scientific Review Group.

Plans for restoring chinook to the Skokomish River are directed by Skokomish Chinook Salmon Recovery Plan (PDF 1.5 mb). The plan includes strategies for the four H’s: habitat, harvest, hatcheries and hydropower.

It seems that every time I write about salmon someone offers an opinion about harvest. If you would like to see how salmon managers think about harvest issues in relation to the other H’s, download the recovery plan and check page 139 of the PDF.

3 thoughts on “Efforts begin to restore ‘wild’ chinook to the Skokomish

  1. I hope keeping the wild and hatchery raised salmon separated works….and that someday someone can explain why a salmon isn’t a salmon, isn’t a salmon.

    The hatchery salmon are soft and have a ‘mushy’ taste compared to the wild salmon. Why?
    Sharon O’Hara

  2. Thank you!
    The taste difference between wild and hatchery fish is the difference between eating filet mignon and what I imagine shoe leather would taste like.

    The wild salmon has firm flakes and wonderful flavor. The hatchery fish is mushy…before and after its cooked and smells different too. Now I know why.
    Good explanation, thanks for the url.
    Sharon O’Hara

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