Another target is to increase the population of Puget Sound wild chinook salmon, which are threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act.
On average, about 55,000 wild chinook return from the ocean each year to spawn, be harvested or be captured to supply hatcheries with spawning fish, according to the partnership.
For this iconic fish to survive another 100 years, the returning number needs to be boosted a few thousand to more than 200,000 fish per year. The 2020 target is to stop the decline and start to increase some of the chinook populations in all five of Puget Sound’s biogeographic regions.
It’s going to take longer in the Nisqually River because fisheries managers are essentially starting from scratch, rebuilding a population of naturally spawning fish, noted David Troutt, natural resources director for the Nisqually Indian Tribe.
The native Nisqually River chinook were killed off more than 40 years ago by hydroelectric dams and over-harvest. Today’s fish are primarily from the Green River.
Salmon productivity in the Nisqually watershed is on the rise, due in large part to major habitat-restoration projects from the Nisqually Delta estuary to two important tributaries, the Mashel River and Ohop Creek.
This summer, the tribe will install a weir in the river on Joint Base Lewis-McChord to keep hatchery chinook from straying upstream to mingle with naturally spawning fish on the upstream spawning grounds.
“We have an obligation and now the opportunity to create a productive and locally adapted stock,” Troutt said.