Lummi: Nooksack River salmon are safe

The Bellingham Herald printed a column by Merle Jefferson and Elden Hillaire, responding to the Department of Health’s recommendation about salmon consumption.

The state Department of Health recently warned consumers about eating Puget Sound chinook salmon more than once a week, incorrectly implying that locally harvested chinook is not safe to eat. While there are valid concerns about mercury and PCB contamination in Puget Sound, the Health Department didn’t distinguish between salmon that originate south of Admiralty Inlet and those from the Nooksack River.

After hatching in the Nooksack River, our chinook migrate to the north Pacific waters off Canada and Alaska, where they spend most of their lives before returning to their spawning grounds. The life history of these chinook is nearly identical to coastal and Alaskan chinook, which the Health Department said were safe to eat.

Nooksack River chinook are among the healthiest foods available. Health officials have made it clear that the dietary benefits of eating salmon — with high levels of omega-3 fatty acids — far outweigh any possible risks.