Treaty tribes release 43 million hatchery salmon last year

Treaty Indian Tribes in western Washington released more than 43 million hatchery salmon in 2015 according to recently compiled statistics.

Of the 43 million salmon released, 10.1 million were chinook. Significant numbers of chum (18.9 million) and coho (8.8 million) were also released in addition to almost 800,000 steelhead and 527,000 sockeye. Some of the salmon released by the tribes were produced in cooperation with the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, state regional enhancement groups, or other sport or community groups.

Nearly all of the chinook and coho salmon produced at tribal hatcheries were “mass marked” by removing the adipose fin – a fleshy extremity just behind the dorsal fin on the fish’s back. Clipping the fin makes for easy identification when the hatchery fish return as adults and are harvested. Many of the fish also were implanted with a tiny coded-wire tag that identifies their hatchery of origin. When recovered on the spawning grounds or when the fish is harvested, data from the coded-wire tag is used to determine migration patterns, contribution rates to various fisheries and other information important to fisheries management.