Summer Chum Supplementation
Summer chum salmon in Hood Canal and the Strait of Juan de Fuca were listed as threatened under the US Endangered Species Act in 1999. Our organization began working with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) to supplement the Union River summer chum run in 2000 as part of the Summer Chum Salmon Conservation Initiative, prepared by the WDFW and the Point No Point Treaty Tribes.
From mid-August to mid-October every year since 2000, an adult fish trap at the mouth of the Union River has been operated 24 hours per day by research interns and volunteers to collect data on adult summer chum abundance and to obtain adult chum for artificial spawning and stock supplementation. In 2003, supplementation ended as the Union River summer chum run was healthy enough that it became a donor stock to reintroduce summer chum to the nearby Tahuya River, where summer chum had been classified as “recently extinct.” Our organization began releasing summer chum fry into the Tahuya River from the Union River stock in 2004. 750 summer chum returned to the Tahuya River in the first year the project, and since 2006, the Tahuya River summer chum return has been between 200 and 1,000 fish annually. Supplementation efforts concluded with the final fry release in the Tahuya River in early 2015. Monitoring continues on both rivers, with the volunteer-run weir still in place on the Union River.
This project, based on a strong partnership between WDFW and the local community, has restored summer-run chum salmon to the Tahuya River and has enriched the community’s appreciation of chum salmon and their ecological importance.