fishery managers are working to minimize the effects of drought on fish at
hatcheries across Washington state.
than a dozen of the 83 fish hatcheries operated by the Washington Department of
Fish and Wildlife are experiencing low water levels or high water temperatures
as a result of this year’s drought. Those conditions increase the likelihood of
disease and can be fatal for fish.
lost about 1.5 million juvenile fish this year due to drought conditions at our
hatcheries,” said Ron Warren, WDFW salmon policy lead. “This is unlike anything
we’ve seen for some time.”
located on the Green River system, for example, have been hit hard, Warren
noted. The Soos Creek hatchery near Auburn lost half (34,000 fish) of its
summer steelhead population and 153,000 coho (18 percent of the population) in
the last month from diseases brought on by warm water temperatures.
is using re-circulation pumps and aerators to reduce the effects of warm water
temperatures at hatcheries. The department also is providing medicated feed to
fish in some situations to combat fungal and bacterial infections triggered by
elevated water temperatures.
some cases, WDFW is moving fish to facilities with cooler water and better
water circulation. The department is sending coho to Tacoma Power’s Cowlitz
Hatchery from its North Toutle facility after roughly 102,000 fish there died
from disease caused by elevated water temperatures.
is also re-conditioning wells at the Kendall Creek Hatchery in Whatcom County
in order to maintain or increase the water supply at that facility.
all options have been exhausted, the department is releasing fish into streams
and lakes ahead of schedule after consulting with tribal co-managers and
federal partners. WDFW will release about 107,000 fall chinook (one-third of
the population) from the Icy Creek Hatchery, also in the Green River drainage,
after water flows there dropped nearly 50 percent in one week.
salmon are about eight months old. The chinook were intended to be released
next July but are old enough to do well in the wild, Warren said.
can face harsh conditions in the wild when they’re young,” Warren said. “We’re
taking steps within our hatcheries to maintain as many healthy fish as we can
despite the challenges of drought.”
more information on the 2015 Washington Drought at