Herald: Donated equipment will help tribes track hatchery salmon

The Herald reports on the Tulalip Tribes’ new genetic testing equipment:

The state Department of Fish and Wildlife and the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration are using DNA testing almost exclusively and no longer use the equipment that tests protein molecules in a process called electrophoresis.

“There was a lot of equipment that we were not going to use,” said Ken Warheit, chief scientist for the fish program at the state Department of Fish and Wildlife in Olympia.

The protein testing method, however, still works fine for the Tulalips in testing their hatchery chum, officials said. The stock from which the Tulalip chum are bred contains unique proteins that are not found in other chum stocks, said Mike Crewson, salmon enhancement scientist for the tribes.

The tribes have been paying $12 per sample tested, which averages out to about $5,000 a year, he said.

“There’s expense for us to do it, too, but it’s so much less,” Crewson said. Plus, “it creates new jobs, they’re good jobs, they’re technical jobs.”

The tribes release between 10 million and 11 million hatchery salmon per year, including about 8 million chum. The hatchery’s purpose is to generate a separate fishery for the tribes so they aren’t catching wild fish and depleting that stock, Crewson said.