Terminal Fisheries, Chinook & Orcas

A recent publication describes a strategy that could make an immediate positive impact on Resident Orca populations:  terminal fisheries.  According to data, 80%+ of salmon caught off British Columbia and SE Alaska are of Washington and Oregon origin. This includes the Puget Sound Chinook populations (and from among others, Issaquah Salmon Hatchery), all of which are still under the EPA “threatened” designation. The concept of a terminal fishery is to wait until the returning fish have sorted themselves out, and design a harvest strategy on a run by run basis (Coho arrive at the hatchery a month later than the Chinook), rather than harvesting a mix of threatened and non-threatened runs on the high seas. This study suggests that switching to a terminal fishery strategy would make 25% more Chinook (the mainstay of the Resident orca diet) available to them.  It may also increase the average size of the Chinook caught, by reducing the harvest of immature fish on the high seas.