Pacific Northwest
via Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

WA - State Report Says Salmon and Steelhead Are Near the Brink of Extinction

A new report from the Governor’s Salmon Recovery Office shows a number of salmon and steelhead populations in Washington state are teetering on the brink of extinction, according to a Thursday press release by the state Recreation and Conservation Office.

The report, titled ‘State of Salmon in Watersheds,’ shows that 10 of the 14 populations of salmon and steelhead listed as threatened or endangered in Washington under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) are not making progress. Of the 10, five are in crisis.

“We have come a long way in addressing the factors killing salmon,” said Erik Neatherlin, the executive coordinator of the Governor’s Salmon Recovery Office. “Some salmon populations are strong and nearing recovery. Unfortunately, many challenges are outpacing restoration efforts, holding back recovery of the majority of salmon.”

The report noted that salmon populations are expected to worsen as the climate warms and mountain glaciers, which feed cold, clean water to salmon-bearing streams in the summer, continue to disappear. In addition, Washington’s human population is expected to grow from 7.6 million to 9 million people by 2040, adding the equivalent of three more Seattles to the state.

“More people means more demand for water and for land along waterways, both of which conflict with what salmon need,” Neatherlin said. “It’s important to remember that Washingtonians rely heavily on salmon to support jobs in the fishing and tourism industries, as a food source and for traditional tribal culture and for recreation.”

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