Salmon Recovery in
Washingtonians rely on salmon for food, recreation, jobs, cultural identity, and social tradition. These iconic fish evoke the best Washington has to offer – pristine water, rich landscapes, a healthy environment, and a thriving natural resource economy.
As Washington’s population has grown, its salmon have dwindled. In 1991, the federal government declared the first salmon in the Pacific Northwest, Snake River sockeye, as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. In the next few years, 16 more species of salmon were listed as either threatened or endangered.
By 1999, wild salmon had disappeared from about 40 percent of their historic breeding ranges in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and California.
In Washington, the numbers had dwindled so much that salmon and bull trout were listed as threatened or endangered in nearly three-fourths of the state.
There are many things that have contributed to the decline of salmon populations but they generally can be put in two major categories:
- Loss, fragmentation, and destruction of salmon habitat
- Land uses that pollute waterways and degrade habitat
- Over fishing
- Hatcheries that produce fish that compete with wild salmon for limited resources
Changes to the natural environment
- Fluctuating marine conditions
- Climate change
- Increases in predators