NOAA Fisheries: Alaska chinook harvest not to blame for killer whale decline


The National Marine Fisheries Service says shutting down Southeast Alaska’s king salmon season would contribute little to saving an endangered population of killer whales in Puget Sound.

NOAA Fisheries filed a motion on May 11 in US District Court opposing a Washington state conservation group’s effort to block the summer troll and sportfishing season.

The motion in opposition to the Wild Fish Conservancy’s injunction petition is 34 pages, with over 2,000 pages in supporting scientific documents.

The question the court will have to decide is whether prey abundance is the sole limiting factor in the decline of the Southern Resident Killer Whale, which was listed as an endangered species in 2005.

The orcas eat chinook salmon — also called kings — which originate in the big river systems of the Pacific Northwest, but spend most of their lives rearing in the Gulf of Alaska.

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