Windstorm Outtage Kills Millions Of Young Salmon At WDFW Hatchery — ‘Devastating Loss’


As many as 6.2 million chinook salmon fry died last weekend when a windstorm cut power to the Minter Creek Hatchery in Pierce County and the facility’s backup generator failed.


The fry were in incubators at the Minter Creek Hatchery operated by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). The pump that supplies water to those incubators stopped working when both the main power and backup generator failed.

WDFW staff tried to start the generator and attempted to provide water to the incubators using other methods, but those efforts were largely unsuccessful, said Eric Kinne, WDFW hatchery division manager.

“This is a devastating loss,” Kinne said. “The department is conducting an analysis to determine the root cause of what went wrong so that we can improve procedures at Minter Creek and our other hatcheries to help ensure this doesn’t happen again.”

An inventory of the fish lost includes:

  • 4.2 million Deschutes fall chinook fry
  • 1.5 million Minter Creek fall chinook fry
  • 507,000 White River spring chinook fry

Kinne said the department was raising the White River spring chinook as part of the state’s early efforts to provide more food for southern resident orcas, which are listed as endangered both federally and in Washington. The Deschutes and Minter Creek fall chinook were part of WDFW’s ongoing hatchery operations that support state fisheries, not new production for orcas.

Other fish – including roughly 4.2 million chum salmon and 2 million coho salmon – being held at Minter Creek Hatchery survived the power outage.

WDFW is determining whether fish from other facilities can replace some of the fry lost at Minter Creek Hatchery, which is located in Gig Harbor. The chinook were scheduled for release in May or June 2019. Chinook typically return to their natal streams to spawn after three to five years in marine waters.

The department operates 80 hatcheries across Washington and raises approximately 68 million chinook annually.

6 thoughts on “Windstorm Outtage Kills Millions Of Young Salmon At WDFW Hatchery — ‘Devastating Loss’”

  1. Looks like someone needs to be fired! There is no excuse for this. Who was maintaining back up generators? Was preventative maintenance being performed?

  2. This is plainly on the face STUPID. There are back up generators every where for rent or sale. In emergency there are gens at road maintenance sheds. 20000 kw gens are not that expensive considering the loss ,they kick in automatically.They will also atomatic test start. STUPID. FIRE ALL MANAGEMENT.

  3. It is far past time for the WDFW system to be audited. Too many years in a row we have seen a devastating loss of hatchery fish before they even leave the hatchery.

  4. Nice headline. Had this been a murder it would have read “bullet responsible for sudden death” So god damn sick of media tactics.Thank you to all those who saw through the media bullcrap.
    Still a horrible shame that this happened. I understand that some failures cannot be preempted but heads need to roll on this one.
    As a neighbor to the north i genuinely applaud your countries efforts and approach to the SRKW problem. It appears the US will take the financial brunt of salmon repopulation while Canada’s role will be to simply reduce the mortality rates by closing vast coastline areas to harvesting
    Stopping now before I get too angry-SORRY! 😉

  5. Finger pointing starts now. Not my job, did not happen on my watch, the other guy did it.
    To much loss of Salmon by pollution from Nature and Poaching, To have our Human overseers kill by neglect is appalling.

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