6.2 million Chinook Salmon fry die after power outage at hatchery

Salmon Fry (KOMO Photo)

Last week's windstorm cut the power to the Minter Creek Hatchery in Pierce County, in turn causing 6.2 million Chinook Salmon fry to die. The back up generator failed which caused the pumps that brought water into the tanks to fail.

The fish were kept in incubators at the hatchery. According to a press release from the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), the inventory of fish lost are 4.2 million Deshutes fall Chinook fry, 1.5 million Minter Creek fall Chinook fry and 507,000 White River spring Chinook fry.

"It’s a severe loss. It’s a challenge to try to recover from something like this. This particular species is not as age-class sensitive as other salmon species. But this is going to have a significant impact on adult returns," said Jim Jenkins, WDFW South Puget Sound Hatchery Operations Manager.

The department was raising the White River spring Chinook as part of the state’s early efforts to provide more food for Southern Resident orcas. The Deschutes and Minter Creek fall Chinook were part of WDFW’s ongoing hatchery operations that support state fisheries.

“The department is conducting an analysis to determine the root cause of what went wrong so that we can improve procedures at Minter Creek and our other hatcheries to help ensure this doesn’t happen again," said Eric Kinne, WDFW hatchery division manager.

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