May 16, 2012
Service Olympic Peninsula Hatchery Continues More Than a Century of Providing Coho Salmon for Future Fishing Opportunities
Ron Wong, (360) 765-3334
Collaborative Service, State and Tribal Partnerships Sustain A Highly-Popular Coho Salmon Run
For images, visit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/usfwspacific/collections/72157626051552087/
Quilcene National Fish Hatchery's recent releases of nearly 600,000 juvenile coho salmon into Hood Canal and Puget Sound waters reached a milestone last month, marking the 101st consecutive year the hatchery has continued a program that supports valuable area tribal and sport fish harvests.
"Our coho production program has been underway since 1911, and over all these years has provided very important harvest opportunities for commercial, tribal and sport fishers," said Dan Magneson, Assistant Hatchery Manager. The hatchery is located in Quilcene, Washington.
On April 25, Quilcene NFH released nearly 400,000 smolts -- juvenile coho salmon ready to travel to the ocean -- into the Big Quilcene River, beginning an 18-month journey after which they will return to native bays, rivers, and streams as adults. The release follows a transfer on March 16, 2012, of more than 200,000 'pre-smolts' to net pens operated by the Skokomish Tribe in Quilcene Bay, where they were held for several months before release.
The hatchery also transfers 450,000 coho eggs every November to the George Adams State Fish Hatchery, which supports the Port Gamble S'Klallam tribal net pen program.
Quilcene NFH and other Service offices work closely with five tribes, the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission, Point No Point Treaty Council, non-governmental organizations, and federal and state wildlife agencies to rear and release the fish in a manner that increases survival of wild Puget Sound steelhead, which are protected under the Endangered Species Act.
Hatchery releases and transfers are timed to maximize survival and future harvest opportunities, benefitting tribal, sport, and commercial fishing industries. Pre-smolt transfers to Quilcene Bay net pens allow the young fish to 'imprint' to the Bay's waters, increasing the likelihood they will return there as adults. Fish are released at night during high tide to avoid predators.
"Last year we experienced one of our very best adult coho returns ever and the hatchery provided a total of nearly 11,000 surplus adult coho to the five Native American tribal communities we serve," said Magneson. "And this does not even include a further great contribution of this very same coho run to the various fisheries that target them on their way to the hatchery. I thought all of this was a very fitting tribute in celebration of the hatchery's Centennial in 2011".
Quilcene NFH will begin marking and tagging coho salmon beginning June 04, 2012. The public is invited to visit the hatchery to see this process or watch the video on the hatchery's webpage.
For more information, visit: http://www.fws.gov/quilcenenfh/index.cfm