Feds OK plan to cut salmon fishing when needed for orcas

The Spokesman-Review

Federal officials have approved a plan that calls for cutting nontribal salmon fishing along the West Coast when the fish are needed to help the Northwest’s endangered killer whales.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries adopted the plan Tuesday as recommended by the Pacific Fishery Management Council. It calls for restricting commercial and recreational salmon fishing when chinook salmon numbers are especially low.

It’s one of the the first times a federal agency has restricted hunting or fishing one species to benefit a predator that relies on it.

The southern resident killer whales — the endangered orcas that spend much of their time in the waters between Washington state and British Columbia — depend heavily on depleted runs of fatty chinook. Recent research has affirmed how important chinook are to the whales year round, as they cruise the outer coast, and not just when they forage in Washington’s inland waters in the summertime.

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