Wild Chinook Salmon
Chinook salmon in the Sound now are about one-third as abundant as they were in 1908
Indicator lead: Neala Kendall and Anne Marshall, Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife
Data last updated on July 13, 2017

Importance to Puget Sound recovery

Chinook salmon are the largest of the salmon species. They are a favorite food of orcas, are highly prized by anglers and commercial fisherman, and are an important cultural and economic resource for tribes.

Returning Chinook are highly prized by anglers and commercial fisherman and are a favorite food of orca whales. Puget Sound Chinook return in the summer and fall to spawn, build gravel nests, and lay their eggs in rivers and streams. Their carcasses provide nutrients for freshwater invertebrates, which in turn provide food for young fish. As they grow, juvenile Chinook move from freshwater to estuaries and nearshore areas to find food and cover to hide from predators. They eventually move to more exposed shorelines where they depend on eelgrass and kelp beds as they continue their migration to the ocean.

Puget Sound Chinook are about one-third as abundant as they were in the early 1900s and were listed in 1999 as Threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act. Today, 22 populations of Chinook salmon spawn in Puget Sound rivers.

What you can do

  • Always follow state fishing regulations
  • On your own property:
    • Plant more native trees and plants
    • Build a rain garden if appropriate for your site
    • If you have shoreline armoring, consider “soft” alternatives and plant native trees/plants along the shoreline
  • Use less toxic yard care and cleaning products
  • While boating, avoid anchoring in eel grass beds
  • Get involved!
    • Volunteer with local recovery groups, to help plant trees along streams and related activities
    • Volunteer with local programs such as Salmon Watcher, Regional Fisheries Enhancement groups, and Stream teams
    • Support policies that protect habitat: consider talking to a representative in your local city or county planning office about local laws and regulations and the potential impact on habitat, if you plan to build any structures aimed at preventing erosion on shoreline properties
    • Consider participating in the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP), a voluntary program that pays landowners to establish buffers of native trees and shrubs along fish bearing streams and rivers: http://scc.wa.gov/crep/

What our partners are doing

View Near Term Actions helping to advance this Vital Sign

Links for more information

NOAA and salmon recovery

Puget Sound Partnership and salmon recovery

Puget Sound Watershed Recovery Plans

State of the Salmon in Watersheds Report

State of our Watersheds Report

Results Washington Wild Chinook Salmon goal