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One million Chinook fry lost after mechanical failure at Washington hatchery

May 16, 2024  By Hatchery International staff

The holding pond at Samish Hatchery following a mechanical failure early in the morning on Monday, April 29, 2024. (Photo: WDFW)

About 1 million young Chinook salmon have died at the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW)’s Samish Hatchery near Burlington after a mechanical failure on, April 29.

The incident occurred after leaves and other floating debris transported by heavy rains on April 28 clogged a rotating intake screen, resulting in low water and decreased water quality in the outdoor pond holding two million young hatchery Chinook. An alarm that should have alerted WDFW staff to respond and clean the clogged screen failed to trigger due to an issue with the electrical breaker.

The Chinook were being raised to support prey availability for Southern Resident killer whales as well as tribal and recreational salmon fisheries in the North Puget Sound Region.

The WDFW said the loss of half of the fry Chinook is unfortunate and it is taking steps to prevent further incidents. The WDFW also said it does not expect significant negative impacts to orcas, Puget Sound salmon fisheries, or future hatchery operations from this loss as the Samish Hatchery has seen surplus Oreturns of Chinook in recent years.


The surviving fry will be clipped and released along with the young Chinook salmon held in other ponds at the Samish Hatchery that were not affected by the incident.

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