Good News, Bad News for Salmonby Staff
Wood River Journal, June 7, 2000
The largest number of hatchery-bred Columbia and Snake River spring chinook salmon made the return trip inland this year, leading to even a limited fishing season for endangered species.
That's the good news. The bad news, according to sportfishing industry officials, is that wild chinook numbers are still dangerously low.
This year's run of spring chinook over Bonneville Dam is the highest since record keeping started in 1938 and is estimated at around 190,000 hatchery and wild fish total. This beats teh previous high of 186,140 in 1972.
But wild salmon (which constitute only 10 percent of spring chinook runs) continue their downward slide. The Department of Fish and Game estimates that less than 3000 wild spring chinook will pass Lower Granite Dam this year, a less than promising trend that began in the 1980s and has continued into the 1990s. During the past decade, some 3400 salmon return on average each year.
"While we are celebrating the huge hatchery run and the benefits it provides, the extinction of wild fish is happening right in front of us," said Liz Hamilton, executive director of the Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association. "We need to restore more natural river conditions that wild fish once thrived in."
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