PUYALLUP (April 4, 2005) – The Puyallup Tribe counted the highest returns of chum salmon ever recorded on several tributaries of the Puyallup River and at the tribe’s hatchery.

“More chum salmon made it onto the spawning grounds this year, because of good harvest management by the Puyallup Tribe and our state co-managers,” said Joe Anderson, fisheries manager for the Puyallup Tribe. Since records have been kept, there have never been more chum salmon counted on South Prairie and Fennel creeks, and at the tribe’s hatchery on Diru Creek.

“While there were great returns of chum in some areas, it should be noted that those returns were to creeks that still have good habitat for salmon,” said Russ Ladley, resource protection manager for the Puyallup Tribe. “There used to be hundreds of thousands of chum returning to the Puyallup River system. Today, because of loss and degradation of habitat, chum only have a handful of places to which to return.”

The high return of chum is in contrast to recent years of historically low steelhead returns to the Puyallup River watershed. “Not every species of salmon is returning to the Puyallup River in strong numbers,” said Ladley. “We shouldn’t look at the strong chum numbers and assume that we’ve recovered salmon.” Combined with well managed fisheries, good ocean conditions led to higher survival rates that brought about high returns of chum.

In addition to weak steelhead returns, the tribe is also working to restore chinook salmon, which are part of the Puget Sound population listed as “threatened” under the federal Endangered Species Act.

Tribal staff gather salmon population data during spawning surveys, which begin in mid-August, continue through the winter, and end in mid-June. That data is complied in the Puyallup Tribe’s “Annual Salmon, Steelhead and Char Report: Puyallup and White River Watersheds,” the most comprehensive report on salmon populations in the Puyallup system.

The “Salmon Steelhead and Char Report” is posted at /w/updownload/ under the “general” heading.

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For more information, contact: Russ Ladley, resource protection manager, Puyallup Tribe, (253) 845-9225. Emmett O’Connell, information officer, NWIFC, (360) 438-1181, ext. 392, eoconnell@nwifc.org