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Saving salmon and steelhead in Washington state can seem like a mission with miserable prospects.

But one nonprofit has made it into a game that they say is a lot like fantasy football, and schools are involved this year.

Ted S. Warren / file / AP Photo

The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments Wednesday in what many observers are calling a historic showdown that will determine who has to pay to fix our "roads" for salmon – and how quickly.

A Native American man has been sentenced to four months in jail and he’ll have to pay more than $1,000 in fines for illegally catching and selling chinook salmon and sturgeon in Washington state.

Bellamy Pailthorp / KNKX

Local tribes are calling on the memory of legendary civil rights activist Billy Frank Jr. to rev up the fight for salmon recovery. They met in Tulalip Monday for what they dubbed a “first-annual” Pacific Salmon Summit, named in his honor.

If all goes according to plan, there could soon be salmon above the Grand Coulee Dam again. That’s according to Cody Desautel, director of Natural Resources for the Confederated Tribes of the Colville. 

The Washington Legislature approved a phase out of Atlantic salmon farming in state waters on Friday and sent the measure to the desk of Gov. Jay Inslee, who is expected to sign it.

Every year, wildlife officials keep track of how many salmon return to their spawning grounds. This year, they expect low returns of salmon in Washington state—and that could change the fishing outlook.



The head of Cooke Aquaculture says he's furious about "scare tactics" that he says are driving a push to end Atlantic salmon farming in Puget Sound. The Washington Senate voted 35-12 Thursday to phase out aquatic leases for net pens holding non-native fish.

Over the weekend, Washington state tightened the screws—again—on an Atlantic salmon farming operation. The state Department of Natural Resources Saturday terminated the lease for Cooke Aquaculture's Cypress Island fish farm near Anacortes.

Washington state officials have proposed a new tack to save the Pacific Northwest's critically endangered orca population. Their idea is to boost salmon hatchery production by 10 to 20 million more fish per year to provide more food for the iconic killer whales.

The forest fires raging in the Columbia River Gorge are unlikely to disturb adult coho salmon right now. But Northwest tribal fishers are worried about what will happen in the fall.

Robert F. Bukaty / AP Photo

This story was updated at 3:09 p.m. Friday, Aug. 25.  See correction below.

Along with cooling the air and dimming skies in the region, this week’s solar eclipse caused high tides. The resulting currents damaged a net pen and released unknown numbers of farmed Atlantic salmon into open waters south of the San Juan Islands.

If Northwest fish were stand-up comics, the salmon would be the headliner. And the fish that gets “no respect” would be the lamprey, an eel-like creature that has been plying the Northwest’s rivers for 400 million years. 

Al Grillo / AP Photo

The Environmental Protection Agency has settled a lawsuit with Canadian-owned Pebble Limited Partnership over development of a copper and gold deposit in southwest Alaska.

Two years ago, the EPA proposed restrictions on the Pebble Mine in the Bristol Bay region. The settlement walks back that proposal, giving the company up to 30 months to apply for proper permits and limiting the agency from pursuing further restrictions for four years.

Bristol Bay is host to a world-class fishery and produces about half of the world's supply of wild sockeye salmon.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

AquAdvantage salmon were the first genetically engineered animal product meant for human consumption to be approved by the FDA. It combines the genetic material of Chinook and Atlantic salmon with eelpout to make it grow nearly twice as fast as its conventionally farmed counterparts.

Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU

Sea-Tac International is the fastest growing airport in North America -- and the first in the U. S. to receive certification as “Salmon Safe.” The designation recognizes work to improve water quality that goes above and beyond federal requirements.

Just west of Sea-Tac’s third runway, down the hill from a steep retaining wall, environmental specialist Josh Feigen stands in the underbrush at the edge of Miller Creek. In 2012, he says the port replaced a cement-box culvert here with woody debris, boulders and gravel to restore more than a mile of shady habitat for salmon.

Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU

Salmon returns in the Northwest are on many people’s minds this week as fisheries managers meet in Vancouver. They’re considering what might be the first full closure of ocean salmon fishing in nearly 22 years.

But you might not notice much change in what’s for sale in local markets. Step up to a seafood counter looking for salmon and you’ll likely find a lot to choose from.

Gabriel Spitzer / KPLU

Utility crews are about to take a busy northeast Seattle thoroughfare out of commission for six months.

But in exchange for shutting down five blocks of 35th Avenue Northeast, utilities officials say the neighborhood will get relief from chronic flooding and a very new look for the city's longest creek.

The north and south branches of Thornton Creek converge just east of 35th Avenue. Floodwaters often submerge sections of the street after big storms and can inundate homes, Meadowbrook Community Center and nearby Nathan Hale High School.

AP Photo

The ongoing issue with the cracked Wanapum Dam in central Washington is now creating problems for migrating salmon. The drawdown of water between Wanapum and Rock Island dams to relieve pressure on the crack is the roadblock.

Tom Banse

Once upon a time, salmon and steelhead swam more than a thousand miles upriver to the headwaters of the mighty Columbia River, at the foot of the Rockies in British Columbia.

Those epic migrations ended in 1938 with the construction of Grand Coulee Dam.

This week, tribes from both sides of the U.S.-Canada border along with scientists and policymakers are meeting in Spokane to figure out how Columbia River fish could be restored to their entire historical range. The idea draws passionate supporters, but has unknown costs that you might be asked to help pay.

Anna King

A dried-out 3-mile-stretch of creek in central Washington will soon swell again with water. It’s part of a project near Ellensburg to pipe irrigation water from the Yakima River to keep water in the creek for salmon and steelhead.

Jim Cole / AP Photo

Fishermen around the Northwest are enjoying some exceptional salmon runs this autumn. Puget Sound is teeming with pink salmon and there's a record-breaking fall Chinook run in the Columbia and Snake Rivers. But as fish move upstream to spawn, danger lurks for dogs.

Dr. Scott Capsey had his first encounter with "salmon poisoning" years before he became a vet. His family's normally exuberant golden retriever mysteriously turned lethargic, had diarrhea and lots of vomiting.

"They didn't know if she was going to make it. I remember that conversation,” Capsey said.

Roger Tabor / U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Survival rates for salmon and steelhead in Puget Sound have plunged since the 1970s, and a big new international study is aiming to figure out why.

Before they end up filleted and sautéed on your dinner plate, salmon lead some pretty extraordinary, globe-trotting lives.

After hatching in a freshwater stream, young salmon make a break for the ocean, where they hang out for years, covering thousands of miles before deciding its time to settle down and lay eggs in their natal stream.

So how do these fish find their way back to their home river?

YouTube

UNION, Wash. — A flooding river covered a road in Washington, allowing some migrating salmon to swim across the pavement.

tpmartins / Flickr

An East Coast court case could have big impacts on West Coast fish, and farmers too. Chemical manufacturers are suing the federal government to get a rule restricting pesticide use wiped off the books.

In 2008 the National Marine Fisheries Service ruled a certain class of pesticides is a mortal threat to salmon and steelhead populations. Organophosphates are common on farms, and used to be widely used in gardens before regulators phased them out.

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service / Flickr

Sen. Maria Cantwell is calling for stronger communication between American and Canadian officials following the disclosure that Canada failed to reveal the results of tests that appear to show the presence of a potentially deadly salmon virus nearly a decade before a salmon-virus scare this fall.

This is the second time that Canadian officials have been accused of muffling a scientist’s findings concerning viruses and salmon.

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service / Flickr

U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell is calling on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to independently confirm the presence of a deadly virus found in two Pacific salmon in British Columbia.

River Drifters / Flickr

VANCOUVER, Wash. – Work is under way to remove the Condit Dam in southwest Washington and restore salmon and steelhead habitat on the White Salmon River.

The 125-foot tall dam was built in 1913 about three miles from the Columbia River.