Genetic Work Will Clarify Murky Status Of Sol Duc River Chinook

LAPUSH (June 27, 2006) –The Quileute Tribe is welcoming the news that a long-sought genetic analysis of the Sol Duc summer run of chinook will become a reality.

For nearly 20 years, the tribe has supplemented a depressed run of naturally spawning summer run chinook, but the true strength of the population of the stock is murky because an abundant run of hatchery-reared spring chinook returns at about the same time. Some of the hatchery chinook stray on to the spawning grounds and interbreed with the naturally spawning summer chinook making it impossible to accurately determine the health of the summer run.

The spring chinook run begins returning in late April and continues through July. It is a pure hatchery stock introduced by the State of Washington in the 1970s that returns to a facility nearly 31 miles from the mouth of the Sol Duc. Here, eggs and milt are collected from returning adults and young fish are reared for later release in the river.

The depressed summer chinook run begins returning in July. Tribal technicians capture a small percentage of returning adults between July and September and raise their offspring at Lonesome Creek Hatchery to increase the stock’s survival rates. The young fish are released in early summer and return as adults in four to six years.

Because the genetic characteristics of the abundant spring chinook hatchery stock are already known, once the genetic traits of the depressed summer run are known, the tribe will be able to determine the extent of the interbreeding. The Quileute Tribe has been collecting and storing summer run chinook tissue samples that will be analyzed with the aid of a $12,000 Hatchery Reform Project grant. The federally funded program is an independent scientific panel that guides the Hatchery Reform Project. The project is a systematic, science-driven effort by the tribes and state to recover and conserve naturally spawning salmon populations and support sustainable fisheries.

To further distinguish summer run chinook on the spawning grounds and to gauge the effectiveness of the tribe’s efforts to bolster the run, tiny coded wire tags are being inserted into the fish’s snout prior to their release. Survival rates can be determined when the tags are recovered from returning adults.

“The combination of the genetic work and the coded wire tagging will give us the best information to evaluate what’s going on with the two chinook stocks. The results will give us the background we need to make the best decisions,” said Moon.


For more information, contact: Mel Moon, natural resources director, Quileute Tribe, (360) 374-5695; Dahnielle Buesch, Lonesome Creek Hatchery manager, Quileute Tribe, (360) 374-5695; Roger Lien, fisheries biologist, Quileute Tribe, (360) 374-5695; Debbie Preston, coastal information officer, Northwest Indian Fisheries Commisson, (360) 374-5501