Idaho’s sockeye salmon run falters again; experts perplexed

The Island Packet

A meager return of sockeye salmon to central Idaho this year despite high hopes and a new fish hatchery intended to help save the species from extinction has fisheries managers trying to figure out what went wrong.

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game plans to form a working group to understand why only 27 of 660,000 juvenile fish raised in the hatchery and released in central Idaho in 2018 survived the two-year, 1,800-mile roundtrip to the ocean and back to return as adults. Fisheries managers expected about 800.

The working group will “look at possible mechanisms that could have contributed to the poor survival,” said John Powell of Fish and Game. The working group is expected to be formed in November.

Powell said the young fish showed good survival rates as they swam down the Salmon River to the Snake River to the Columbia River and to the ocean.

Things looked good for the return trip as well.