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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Extreme Water Temperatures & Low Flows in Pacific Northwest Rivers Creating Lethal Conditions for Salmon

Groups urge states and NOAA to immediately implement emergency measures that would close all river reaches to all fishing, both recreational and commercial, that exceed 18°C (64.4°F), until water temperatures and flows return to more normal conditions.
Jul 13, 2015

WILD FISH CONSERVANCY
PO Box 402 Duvall, WA 98019 · Tel 425-788-1167 · Fax 425-788-9634 ·
info@wildfishconservancy.org
Contact: Kurt Beardslee, Wild Fish Conservancy, 425-788-1167

Extreme Water Temperatures & Low Flows in Pacific Northwest Rivers Creating Lethal Conditions for Salmon


Monday July 13, 2015 - Today, Wild Fish Conservancy, a Puget Sound-based conservation organization, along with Native Fish Society, The Conservation Angler, International Federation of Fly Fishers Steelhead Committee, Washington Fly Fishing Club, Whitewater Creek Conservation Association, and Wild Steelhead Coalition, sent a request to the governors and fish & wildlife department directors and commissioners of Washington, Oregon, and California, and NOAA Fisheries, urging the states to immediately implement emergency measures that would close all river reaches to all fishing, both recreational and commercial, that exceed 18°C (64.4°F), until water temperatures and flows return to more normal conditions.

Salmon and trout require cool water as juveniles and adults to grow, survive, and reproduce. In the Pacific Northwest, recent weather abnormalities have caused record-breaking high temperatures and low stream flows (NOAA 2015). As a result, water temperatures within rivers, streams, and lakes have increased dramatically above seasonal averages.

A report released today by the Conservancy indicates that current water temperatures in almost all salmon and trout bearing rivers and streams analyzed in Washington, Oregon, and California have exceeded thresholds which result in biological stress, indirect mortality, and reduced spawning success. Furthermore, lethal conditions were detected in 39 of 54 of the rivers and streams.

“These extreme conditions put a lot of pressure on our region’s threatened and endangered wild salmon and steelhead,” said Kurt Beardslee, executive director of Wild Fish Conservancy. “In the face of our current seasonal heat crisis, pressure on wild populations must be reduced now. At this point in time, the only means of achieving this is through a reduction in harvest or fishing.”

All commercial and recreational fishing techniques are known to inflict damage to salmon and trout that are caught and released or drop out of nets; especially when water and air temperatures are high (Davis 2002). Recreational and commercial fishing also reduces the abundance of adult fish on the spawning grounds. With substantial losses of rearing juvenile salmon and resident fishes expected to occur this season from high water temperatures in our region’s rivers and streams, it is crucial that we insure that the stressed wild salmon and steelhead returning to our region have the greatest opportunity of passing unimpaired to their spawning habitats.

- Sign-on Letter/Request for Closures and Restrictions - WA, OR, CA, NOAA

- Report - 2015 Temperature and Flow Conditions of Pacific Northwest Rivers: A Water Quality and Quantity Crisis and the Need for Fishery Closures and the Development of a NOAA Approved Drought Management Plan for the Protection of ESA- listed Salmonids

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