Tribes release 39 million salmon in 2013

Treaty Indian Tribes in western Washington released more than 39 million hatchery salmon in 2013, according to recently compiled statistics.

Of the 39 million salmon released, 10.1 million were chinook. Also released were 16.5 millon chum and 7.7 million coho, as well as 800,000 steelhead and 500,000 sockeye.

Most tribal hatcheries produce salmon for harvest by both Indian and non-Indian fishermen. Some serve as wild salmon nurseries that improve survival of juvenile fish and increase returns of salmon in our watersheds to spawn naturally.

“Hatcheries play a critical role in fisheries management. Without them, our treaty rights would be meaningless because there would be no salmon for harvest – by anyone,” said Billy Frank Jr., chairman of the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission. “Hatcheries must remain a central part of salmon management in western Washington for as long as lost and damaged habitat prevents our watersheds from naturally producing abundant, self-sustaining runs.”

Hatcheries are simply a tool, Frank said. “We have hatcheries because of choices made in the past and choices that are still being made today about how we treat salmon habitat. We think hatcheries work best when they work hand-in-hand with good harvest management and are combined with protecting and restoring habitat. Hatcheries are not a substitute for plentiful, high-quality habitat.”

You can view an interactive map of tribal hatchery releases below. Click on each tribe or cooperative program to find more details.

Some of the fish released by the tribes in 2013 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 and community groups.