Millions of hatchery salmon die in power outage

Some were designated to feed orcas, state wildlife officials said.

Millions of hatchery salmon die in power outage

Millions of Chinook salmon fry died over the weekend after a power outage at a Gig Harbor hatchery.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife reported the incident on Monday.

In a press release, the agency announced as many as 6.2 million fry, or baby salmon, died on Friday after a windstorm cut power to the Minter Creek Hatchery. The facility’s backup generator failed, the department reported, causing the pump that supplies water to some incubators to stop working.

Over 4 million Deschutes fall Chinook fry perished in the incident, plus about 1.5 million Minter Creek fall Chinook fry and some 507,000 White River spring Chinook fry, WDFW reported.

“This is a devastating loss,” hatchery division manager Eric Kinne said via press release.

Kinne said the department raised the White River Chinook specifically to address a food shortage affecting Puget Sound’s southern resident orcas. The Deschutes and Minter Creek fall Chinook were meant to support state fisheries, the agency reported.

Roughly 6.2 million salmon survived the power outage, WDFW said.

Minter Creek is one of 80 hatcheries operated by the state agency, which raises approximately 68 million Chinook each year.

The department is conducting an analysis of the incident to determine its root causes and to “help ensure this doesn’t happen again,” Kinne said.

The agency was still looking for a third-party contractor to conduct the analysis, Kinne said Tuesday.

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