Saving Puget Sound orcas is an incredibly complex undertaking. Increasing chinook salmon is only one part. The Orca Task Force has decided the Green River is a key source of chinook and proposes increasing hatchery output by 2 million fingerlings. Sounds simple, right?
As the chair of the WRIA 9 Management Committee working to restore chinook to the Green River watershed, I am familiar with scientific studies of the last three years that have shown the Lower Green — in Tukwila, Kent, Auburn and a little bit of King County — is a bottleneck. It doesn’t have enough rearing and refuge habitat as is. The Soos Creek Hatchery is upstream of the Lower Green, so releasing 2 million more hatchery fish won’t help the orcas one bit if they don’t come back as adults.
That’s one of the reasons Danny Westneat’s point about cutting commercial and sports harvests by the apex predator, us, is so right on. Especially while we work on the other incredibly complex issues like habitat, hatcheries and what to do with dams.
I’ve decided not to schedule a four-day king salmon trip to Sitka this summer. How about the rest of you?
Dennis Robertson, Tukwila