Puget Sound salmon forecast predicts drop in coho return
February 29, 2012
By Warren Kagarise
NEW — 10 a.m. Feb. 29, 2012
State salmon fishery officials expect a smaller coho return to Puget Sound in the months ahead.
Overall, the forecast calls for about 732,000 coho to return to Puget Sound streams — or 249,000 fewer coho than the 2011 forecast.
The state Department of Fish and Wildlife announced the initial 2012 forecast Tuesday. The annual forecast announcement is the initial indicator of salmon returns to the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery along Issaquah Creek.
Officials expect summer and autumn chinook salmon returns to Puget Sound to total about 224,000 fish — less than the 243,000 chinook projected for 2011. Officials said the chinook return is comprised mostly of hatchery fish.
The downtown Issaquah hatchery raises coho and chinook.
“Over the next few weeks, we will work with tribal co-managers and constituents to establish fishing opportunities on abundant runs of hatchery salmon while ensuring we meet or exceed conservation objectives for wild fish populations,” Department of Fish and Wildlife Director Phil Anderson said.
The state scheduled public meetings focused on regional salmon issues. The rollout of preseason forecasts marks the start of the North of Falcon process. The effort brings together state, tribal and federal fishery managers to establish salmon seasons for Puget Sound, Columbia River and the Washington coast.
The process is held as the Pacific Fishery Management Council — the organization responsible for establishing fishing seasons in ocean water off the Pacific coast — holds additional public meetings.
The final adoption of 2012 salmon fisheries is scheduled for April 1-6 at a Pacific Fishery Management Council meeting in Seattle.