We are delighted to be able to hold guided tours again this fall starting the week of September 6th and going until November 11th — two whole months of touring! With the hatchery reopened for public visitation after two long years, feel free to drop by for a self guided tour, or to visit some of the displays and salmon fry that live at the hatchery year-round! Guided tours are also available for Spring/Summer 2022 on an as-requested basis. Please contact us at least 2 weeks before your desired tour date to schedule.
Tours are $5 per person*
Here’s to a great year full of cool, flowing water, eggs, alevins, frys, fingerlings, smolts and returning adults! Keep ’em coming home!
Your Friends at FISH
*Some financial assistance available. Contact FISH for more details.
FISH is hiring a seasonal Volunteer Coordinator for salmon season! Working with FISH is a rewarding and educational experience as you interact with and engage volunteers, students, fish biologists, WDFW specialists, and community members to support our common goal of supporting salmon. If you are interested in joining our team, you can find our position description and instructions on how to apply here. This position will start ASAP and will go through the first two weeks of December.
The SpongeBob Musical! Village Theatre and FISH Partner to Support Aquatic Education
Village Theatre KIDSTAGE is partnering with Friends of the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery (FISH) for the summer production of The SpongeBob Musical! The SpongeBob Musical hopes to bring awareness to marine health and ocean plastics. Educational material from FISH helped to inform the production. See The SpongeBob Musical at Village Theatre’s Francis J. Gaudett Theatre August 5 – 14, 2022. Visit www.villagetheatre.org/spongebob for tickets.
About The SpongeBob Musical:
Dive into the underwater world of Bikini Bottom! When a looming volcanic eruption threatens the community, SpongeBob relies on his friends and his unwavering optimism to save the day. The SpongeBob Musical has 12 Tony nominations and an all-star rock and pop score. With clever timeliness and relevancy, this production has a special message: to celebrate what makes us unique, and to protect our earth both on land and under the sea.
The Audubon’s Annual Christmas Bird Count at the Hatchery
Every year across the US and Canada, avid birders set off to participate in the largest annual bird census in North America: The Audubon’s annual Christmas Bird Count (CBC). CBC participants set out to count all the birds in a 15-mile diameter circle over the span of 24 hours. This 24-hour period happens on one calendar day (per circle) between December 14th and January 2nd every year.
The Christmas Bird Count was started by ornithologist Frank M. Chapman in 1900 as an alternative to a Christmas hunting tradition. With the help of 27 birders, Chapman started this century-long tradition with the simple idea of counting birds, instead of killing them. Since its conception, the CBC has provided useful data to the scientific community, informing reports like the 2012 EPA Climate Change Report, and Audubon’s 2014 Climate Change Report.
The Eastside Audubon Society includes the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery as a part of their 15-mile diameter circle that is surveyed during the CBC. In 2020, and again this year, FISH will be assisting Eastside Audubon Society leaders in their census of the hatchery grounds. As many know, the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery is an urban wildlife refuge, rich with animals, bugs, and plants that create a complex ecosystem ideal for many native bird species. Last year during the CBC, 20 species of birds were counted at the hatchery including species of sparrows, starlings, gulls, mergansers, and more! Stay tuned to see what birds are spotted at the hatchery during the 2021-2022 CBC!
Update: Final Birds from 2021 CBC at the Hatchery
Dark-eyed Junco 36 Black-capped Chickadee 6 Chestnut-backed Chickadee 2 House finch 16 Mallard ducks 8 Common Merganser 2 Northern Spotted Towhee 9 Glaucous-winged gull 6 Cooper’s hawk 2 Song Sparrow 2 English sparrow 10 Anna’s hummingbird 3 American Robin 25 (in the large Holly tree across the ally from the library parking garage) American Crow 29 Great Blue heron 1 Rock pigeons 55
Peter Gowell, Treasurer
Peter is honored to serve on the FISH Board. He brings the shared commitment and purpose of promoting conservation, education, environmental sustainability and supporting the overall mission of FISH.
A native Seattleite growing up on the Eastside, he was introduced to the significance of the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery in grade school (as well as the magic of Boehm’s Candies chocolates). Trips into the Issaquah Alps along with experiences with both Boy Scouts and Mountaineers heightened his awareness and the need to secure healthy fish habitats to support the runs of chinook, coho, sockeye, kokanee, trout and steelhead found in Issaquah Creek.
A CPA by training, he has 20+ years of finance & accounting leadership experience with a large professional services firm, experience beneficial to continuing the strong stewardship of FISH.
Orcas Eat Chum, Too!
Recent research in the Salish Sea and off the Washington coast examined the orca’s seasonal diet. It is well documented that orca prefer Chinook, presumably because of their larger size, but it turns out “Chinook salmon were identified as an important prey item year-round, averaging ~50% of their diet in the fall, increasing to 70–80% in the mid-winter/early spring, and increasing to nearly 100% in the spring. Other salmon species and non-salmonid fishes, also made substantial dietary contributions.” How did the researchers establish this detailed diet analysis? Poop. More specifically, analysis of feces collected from October to May 2004-2017. The authors reach a number of conclusions, ranging from noting that most Chinook consumed consisted of 50-80% hatchery fish, and that the unexpected diversity in species consumed suggests that a successful orca recovery strategy include more than just Chinook enhancement.
Brian Foote, co-founder of EarthViews, sent us a special treat: a view of Issaquah Creek from the hatchery weir down to Confluence Park. This amazing technology gives you the ability to virtually ‘walk’ down the middle of Issaquah Creek, spinning your head for a 360 degree view — all from the comfort of your desk chair or smartphone! Check it out. We’d love to get your feedback! Should we do more of the Creek — maybe from the mouth to the headwaters? Maybe do this multiple times per year? Tell us what you want.
Steve Holland is delighted to serve on the FISH board and feels that it is all our responsibility to pay it forward for the next generation (especially his daughters who love to fish) to keep the salmon coming home. He has been volunteering in multiple roles at the hatchery for the last two years and feels more can be done to educate and build towards the future – together as a community.
Steve learned how to fish in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan with his Dad, uncles, and cousins for Muskie, Northern Pike, Coho, and Steelhead. Since then, he has fished around the world from New Zealand to Russia, but Chinook remains his favorite. Steve launches out of both Edmonds and Point Roberts Marina with his Grady-White.
Steve is quasi-retired and is a recovering Chief Information Officer for multiple Fortune 100 companies. Since he still loves technology, he has found himself helping startup companies in Bellevue and San Francisco get launched and provides enterprise “Crisis CIO” help when needed.
Madeline Fish is passionate about community engagement and the opportunity to educate Eastside residents regarding the Issaquah Fish Hatchery. An Issaquah resident since 1992, she loves living and hiking on Squak Mountain and working in Issaquah for another locally-based non-profit organization. She’s a VOICE mentor in the Issaquah School District and volunteers with other local organizations. She’s an avid reader and sourdough aficionado. She and her husband, Chris, love boating in South Puget Sound. Madeline joined the FISH Board in 2019.
Where Is It Safe to Farm Salmon? On Shore!
When one hears about farming fish, you think about the net-pen rearing of Atlantic salmon or trout — which we know pose threats to our resident and migratory salmon. Cramming thousands of salmon into a small pen creates a continuous, concentrated plume of fish excrement for the local environment. This plume pollutes the environment, and since many pens are built in inlets to reduce wave action, the effluent concentrates in these areas.
The collapse of the net pens off Cyprus Island in 2017, moreover, demonstrated how the largest net pen operators can fail to comply with existing regulations, which should cause all of us to closely reconsider this type of farming.
Thankfully, Canada is addressing these problems by phasing out pen-rearing of salmonids (including salmon and trout) and encouraging a whole new form of aquaculture: Recirculating Aquaculture Systems (RAS). RAS are land-based, closed systems which eliminate the problems and risks of net pens. The fish are raised in tanks, and the water goes through several stages of treatment before recycling back into the closed system. No effluents are released, and potential disease is contained.
“Spicer,” a local and regional graphic designer with extensive marketing success, has lived, worked and volunteered in the Issaquah community since 1984. Her portfolio includes branding, packaging and promotions for real estate, tourism, sports, tech, finance, food/beverage and manufacturing companies, as well as small business, community non-profit organizations and festivals. (Spicer was the designer of the Issaquah Salmon Days Festival theme and logos from 1995 to 2019 and original FISH logo in 1992.)
With a continuous passion for design, community, salmon and the environment, Spicer relishes her free time swimming, reading, writing and celebrating all things – ideally along rivers, lakes, mountains or in our local haunts – with family, friends and partner Rob.
Puget Sound has a Nitrogen Problem — It’s Time to Upgrade our Sewage Plants
Sewage plants release 26 million pounds of nitrogen in Puget Sound each year, according to the Department of Ecology. This is a serious problem for salmon, orcas, and the Puget Sound food web.
If you’re a gardener, you know that nitrogen is a key component in manure, infusing our vegetable gardens with explosive harvest potential. Likewise, in water, concentrated nitrogen fuels explosive growth (blooms) of phytoplankton (algae) — particularly from spring to early fall when there is more sunshine and the temperatures are warmer. As algae blooms use up the nutrients in the surface water, their growth slows and they eventually die. Their cells sink to the ocean floor, where they are decomposed by bacteria, which consume oxygen in the water (and release CO2). Large algae bloom die-off’s can create oxygen-depleted dead zones where aquatic life cannot survive. Even when they don’t create dead zones, the CO2 released by the bacteria during decomposition mixes with H20, increasing acidity, which impacts shellfish. No matter how you look at it, these blooms are bad for aquatic ecosystems, and the 26 million pounds of nitrogen introduced into the Puget Sound from wastewater treatment plants creates a devastating problem for the food web, all the way up to salmon and orcas.
Our wastewater treatment plants fall short. The article points out that Washington state treatment plants are behind the times. Requirements for upgrades were last made in the 1980’s, where they adopted technology developed in the early 20th century. Most treatment plants in Washington today simply do not remove nitrogen.
The article posted on Crosscut.com presents more details on the current debate on how we can meet Clean Water Act standards for dissolved oxygen for the Puget Sound, but where there is no debate is that nitrogen from human activity is to blame. We encourage you to read the article to learn more about the timeline, costs and interim measures associated with upgrading our wastewater treatment plants throughout the Puget Sound.