Power outage kills more than 6 million salmon fry at hatchery

Chinook Salmon swimming up the ladder at a hatchery.

TACOMA — More than 6 million fish were killed last weekend when a windstorm knocked the power out at a Pierce County salmon hatchery.

About 6.2 million chinook salmon fry died when the power went out at the Minter Creek Hatchery, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife said.

A pump that supplies water to the salmon fry incubator stopped working when the power went out and a backup generator failed. Staff tried to kickstart the generator and find other ways to keep the fish alive, wildlife officials said, but it didn’t work.

An inventory of the fish lost includes:

  • 4.2 million Deschutes fall chinook fry
  • 1.5 million Minter Creek fall chinook fry
  • 507,000 White River spring chinook fry

The hatchery was raising White River chinook in hopes of raising more food for the southern resident orca. The southern resident orcas are endangered, and only 74 remain. Chinook are their main food.

Wildlife officials are working with other facilities to replace some of the lost fish.

The WDSFW raises about 68 million fish annually, officials said.

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