Tag Archives: Hood Canal summer chum

Summer chum pose enigma for the Union River

The Union River near Belfair — the last estuary you come to when venturing into Hood Canal — slaps us in the face with an enigma.

The Union River flows into the very end of Hood Canal near Belfair. The red outline is part of the Pacific Northwest Salmon Center.

For the moment, I can’t do much more than pose some perplexing questions. But I get the feeling that if we could get the answers, we would understand more about salmon recovery in Lower Hood Canal and possibly other places as well.

The Union River also highlights the customary finger-pointing as to why certain stocks of salmon declined in the first place and what it will take to bring them back. Of the four H’s — harvest, habitat, hatcheries and hydro — the greatest finger-pointing goes on between harvest and habitat.

Let’s take Hood Canal summer chum and focus on the Union River, which was the subject of a story I wrote for Monday’s Kitsap Sun.

First, why did summer chum go extinct in the Dewatto and Tahuya rivers — the closest rivers to the Union — while maintaining a viable population in the Union?

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Summer chum are making a comeback in Hood Canal

Among all the gloomy stories about declining salmon runs, I am pleased to tell the positive story about the restoration of Hood Canal summer chum. See Sunday’s story in the Kitsap Sun.

For this population of salmon, biologists and political leaders have followed through on a carefully crafted recovery program. Since the late 1980s, researchers have studied these fish to an unusual degree — from the genetic makeup of the summer chum to their migratory patterns. As a result, they have been able to judge when things were going well or not so well.

Temporary hatcheries have been used to rebuild the summer chum runs in numerous Hood Canal streams. After boosting the numbers, most hatcheries have been discontinued. Now, the future of these fish will be determined by the quality of the habitat and changes in the natural system.

If you click over to the Sunday story, you will have access to a more in-depth series I wrote in 2003, before many of the recent successes could be reported.

I’m not working today, because I’ve been hit by some kind of bug that’s sapped my energy, so I won’t write more right now. I just wanted to make sure everyone was aware of my Sunday piece about the summer chum.

UPDATE (Tuesday, June 23): I’m back in action today and realized that I had not included the Web sites that will give you a ton of information about Hood Canal summer chum:
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife
National Marine Fisheries Service