600 Capitol Way North, Olympia, WA 98501-1091
January 30, 2001
Contact: Tim Waters, WDFW, (360) 902-2262
Brian Gorman, NMFS, (206) 526-6613
Chuck Dunn,USFWS, (503) 872-2763
Genetic analysis of Methow salmon may help recover endangered fish
A sample of about 300 newly-hatched chinook salmon are being used to compare fish from the Methow and Winthrop fish hatcheries in Okanogan County. This and other information is being used to advance decisions on the recovery of upper Columbia chinook salmon.
The effort is a cooperative one among the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fisheries Commission (CRITFC), Yakama Nation (YN) and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS).
Using technology only available in the last couple of years, fish tissue samples will be analyzed for their DNA or genetic code by researchers at the University of Idaho. Biologists are working to identify the salmon stock that has the best chance to survive local conditions.
Currently the stocks are identified as Methow Hatchery stock and Carson stock (a name derived from the hatchery of their origin in the 1950's). Only the Methow Hatchery chinook are protected under the ESA listing. Under current regulations Carson stock are not allowed to reproduce in the Methow River Basin.
The Winthrop Hatchery is in the process of transitioning from Carson stock to Methow composite stock. The transition is expected to be complete in two years.
Fisheries scientists have debated the stock compatibility of the Methow and Carson stocks since the Methow stock was listed under the ESA in 1999, and the genetic studies are expected to provide insight into the issue. Scientists say determining whether the stocks are compatible is an important step in developing a recovery strategy for the Methow stock.