Washington tribes help hatchery recover from Chinook loss

Matt Jones
April 26, 2019
By Matt Jones
(From left) Lee Pilon, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Bill St. Jean, hatchery operations manager for the Nisqually Tribe and Tom Friedrich, salmon biologist for the Nisqually Tribe, operate a pump truck to deliver Chinook fry to the Minter Creek Hatchery.
(From left) Lee Pilon, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Bill St. Jean, hatchery operations manager for the Nisqually Tribe and Tom Friedrich, salmon biologist for the Nisqually Tribe, operate a pump truck to deliver Chinook fry to the Minter Creek Hatchery.
After suffering a power outage in December where roughly 6.2 million Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) were lost, the Minter Creek Hatchery in Gig Harbor, Washington, U.S.A., is on the path to recovery.

Hatchery operations manager Jim Jenkins said they still aren’t sure exactly what caused a generator to fail, as it occurred during a time when workers weren’t present.

“There’s a root cause analysis that has since been done, but that report has not yet come back,” Jenkins said.

In the aftermath of the incident, however, the local community responded. In particular, the Nisqually Indian Tribe donated 500,000 Chinook to the hatchery. The Suquamish Tribe also donated 250,000, and a variety of state Fish and Wildlife facilities donated a combined two million.

“Everybody is interested in the resource and supporting it,” Jenkins said. “That’s an underlying thing that’s going on. Hatchery folks all around are interested in supporting one another. There were several facilities that had some fish on the outside margins of their production needs and were able to contribute them back.”

With the assistance of the various partners, they have been able to get production back up to around 70 to 75 percent of production, Jenkins said.
“The more fish that are out there, it benefits everybody,” said Bill St. Jean, hatchery operations manager for the Nisqually Tribe. “We’re all in the same industry, we just work for different people. But we’re all doing the same thing. There’s lot of going back and forth between facilities, we’re not that far away. We certainly know each other. It was the right thing to do. We had a pretty good year, we could reduce our program a little bit.”

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