WDFW reports it will be able to replace 71 percent of more than 3.5 million chum fry lost at a Hood Canal hatchery that was hit by big flooding early this week.
Debris repeatedly clogging the Hoodsport Hatchery’s intake system led to “inadequate flows” to incubation trays the young salmon were rearing in.
Staffers at the facility responded to nine equipment alarms Sunday night as flood waters from the strong atmospheric river off the Pacific surged through the area, according to statewide hatchery manager Eric Kinne.
The National Weather Service reported 48-hour rainfall totals from 3.5 inches to over 6 inches in the Hoodsport area.
WDFW expressed disappointment with the loss and said it is analyzing what happened and “and will take appropriate actions to mitigate future incidents.” At least three other floods on the nearby Skokomish since last fall reached the same height on a USGS gauge.
Hoodsport Hatchery is located in the town of the same name at the mouth of Finch Creek, alongside Highway 101 in Mason County.
Salmon fishermen battle returning chums here in October and November, though low runs have led to inseason closures in recentfalls.
Kinne said that 1 million replacement chum fry will come from surplus fish at McKernan Hatchery outside Shelton and 1.5 million from another facility on the Skokomish known as Rick’s Pond.
He said that 15 million chums are now being raised annually at Hoodsport, an uptick in production meant to also help out southern resident killer whales, and McKernan produces 11 million.
While the loss represents 9 percent of April 2022’s planned chum release from state hatcheries in the canal, WDFW said it “keeps pace with” levels over the past decade.
Fall Chinook and pink salmon are also raised at the hatchery but were unaffected.