Boycotting Chinook Salmon Won’t Save the Orcas.

Orca Photo by Katy Foster/NOAA Fisheries, permit 18786

Katy Foster/NOAA Fisheries, permit 18786

Here’s Why.

If reducing harvest were the solution, our salmon and orca numbers wouldn’t continue to decline.

The 20 treaty Indian tribes in western Washington are committed to the recovery of both salmon and orcas. We are the original stewards of the natural resources in the Pacific Northwest.

We support recovering salmon populations through carefully managed harvest, hatchery supplementation programs and habitat restoration projects.

Tribal fishermen harvest chinook salmon mostly in rivers and bays far from the feeding grounds of southern resident orcas.

Why Are the Orcas Starving?

Orcas are hungry because the habitat that supports healthy salmon populations has been destroyed.

We know that we could eliminate all chinook salmon fishing and still not save a single orca.

Indian and non-Indian fishermen already have reduced harvest by 80-90 percent over the past four decades, but most salmon populations continue to decline.

We are destroying salmon habitat faster than we can restore it.

To recover orcas, we must recover salmon.

The only way to help both salmon and orcas is to increase hatchery production strategically, restore the salmon habitat and manage the exploding population of seals and sea lions.

Food for Thought:

  • Orcas depend mostly on wild chinook returning from Alaska to the Fraser River in British Columbia. These make up a small percentage of the chinook sold to Washington consumers.
  • Consumer demand does not drive salmon quotas. Salmon are harvested when NOAA Fisheries, the federal agency that monitors and protects salmon and orcas, determines the harvest to be sustainable.
  • Salmon harvested in Washington waters are managed sustainably under the federal Endangered Species Act.
  • As a result of conservative management, fishermen harvest only a small percentage of returning salmon.
  • Most of the chinook harvested for the marketplace already have passed through orca feeding areas.
  • Humans represent a tiny fraction of the competition for salmon.
  • California sea lions and harbor seals are the biggest consumers of chinook, eating more than six times the amount harvested by fishermen.
  • The majority of wild chinook caught in Washington are released. Most of the fish sold in Washington are raised in hatcheries.

How to Help:

If you want to make a difference for chinook and orcas, tell your family, friends and elected officials to support:

  • Improving management of the exploding populations of seals and sea lions that are preventing salmon recovery.
  • Protecting all remaining salmon habitat through land-use policies that improve ecosystem productivity.
  • Establishing and enforcing water quantity and quality standards, and reducing toxics like PCBs that are especially harmful to orcas.
  • Developing integrated plans for oil spill planning, prevention and response.
  • Increasing hatchery production in key watersheds that can contribute to more chinook for orcas.
  • Reducing noise and overcrowding from boat traffic that hampers the ability of orcas to find food.

You can help further by conserving water and electricity, and by reducing pesticide and fertilizer runoff into our waters.

Volunteer with your local stream team or watershed group to plant native species, pick up litter and remove invasive plants.

If you’d like more information, contact:

Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission
6730 Martin Way East, Olympia, WA 98516
(360) 438-1180