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Partners behind salmon restoration initiative delighted with this year's prospects

David Welch, Bandon Hatchery manager sorting fish.jpg
Photo provided by the Coquille Tribe.
David Welch, the manager for Bandon Hatchery, sorts fish.

After years of dwindling returns, the Bandon Hatchery and Coquille Tribe are excited to see at least 150 breeding pairs of fall Chinook Salmon this year. That’s one of the highest returns in nearly two decades.

Replenishing the salmon numbers has been an intensive team effort among the Coquille Tribe, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Port of Bandon, and Coquille Salmon and Trout Enhancement Program.

“Last year it was 24 breeding pairs, the year before that it was 3, and then in the neighborhood of 20 for a couple of years prior,” said John Ogan, the assistant executive director for Natural Resources for the Coquille Tribe.

Helena Linnell, tribal biologist mixes sperm and eggs.jpg
Photo provided by Coquille Tribe.
Helena Linnell, biologist with the Coquille Tribe, mixes salmon sperm and eggs prior to their incubation.

“In 2017, there were 88 breeding pairs collected. As I mentioned, the goal is 75. This year we kinda smashed that record with over 100 breeding pairs.”

Fertilized eggs will be kept in incubation tanks, then moved to the Cole Rivers Hatchery, where juvenile salmon will hatch. Eventually they’ll be released into the Coquille River system.

“So for the tribe’s perspective, this gives us a tremendous opportunity to use those eggs that have been returned to us by the great ocean conditions and all of the help that we had to collect the fish,” added Ogan. “We would very much like to put all of those eggs to productive use as possible.”

The Coquille tribe declared an emergency last year, given the hard dive in Chinook numbers due to invasive bass, predators, and environmental challenges. The salmon are a traditional staple for the Coquille.

Note: You may notice that there are two different ways "Coquille" is pronounced in this story. That's intentional. To learn why there are different pronouncers for this word, please visit this informative link here.
©2022, KLCC.

Brian Bull joined the KLCC News Team in June 2016. In his 25+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (19 regional), the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.
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