WA - New report says salmon still struggling | The Journal of the San Juan ...

A new report released by the Governor’s Salmon Recovery Office shows that salmon in Washington still are struggling and face increasing difficulty brought on by climate change and other challenges.

Of the 14 population groups of salmon and steelhead in Washington listed as at-risk of extinction under the federal Endangered Species Act, 10 are in crisis or falling further from recovery goals, according to the State of Salmon in Watersheds report (https://stateofsalmon.wa.gov/wp-content/uploads/2023/02/SOS-ExecSummary-2022.pdf) and website (https://stateofsalmon.wa.gov/).

“Salmon need our help, now,” said Gov. Jay Inslee. “Salmon are essential to our identity, ecosystems and economy. We can’t wait to save them–we have to invest in their recovery right away by restoring habitats and doing everything possible to repel threats to their survival.”

The biennial report and accompanying website note salmon are facing an increasing number of challenges that are being exacerbated by climate change. Those challenges include habitat loss, stormwater pollution, stream temperature, predation and barriers to migration.

“Salmon face hazards at every phase of their lives,” said Erik Neatherlin, director of the Governor’s Salmon Recovery Office. “Wetter winters and more flooding brought on by climate change, combined with limited habitat for young salmon to eat and grow, are flushing young fish out of their gravel nests before they are big enough to survive. As they travel to the ocean, they face polluted waters, barriers to migration, food web issues and increased predators from birds to fish. In the ocean, global and regional shifts in ocean temperature and acidity is interfering with their ability to find food and avoid predators. On their way home from the ocean, they are met with even more barriers to survival including hotter streams, risk of disease, blocked rivers and sea lions and seals trying to eat them. That is why it requires all of us to work together to give salmon any chance of survival.”

Washington salmon populations have been declining for generations. As Washington grew, many of the places salmon live were altered or destroyed. In 1991, the federal government declared the first salmon in the Pacific Northwest as endangered. By the end of that decade, salmon and steelhead and bull trout populations were listed as threatened or endangered in three-quarters of the state.

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