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Spring Edition                                

Going Viral: A Major IHNV Outbreak in Puget Sound 


IHN Net Pens   

Recently, a major outbreak of Infectious Hematopoietic Necrosis virus (IHNV) occurred at three Atlantic salmon farms off Bainbridge Island in Puget Sound, just minutes from downtown Seattle: Fort Ward, Clam Bay, and Orchard Rock.There have also been outbreaks at three salmon farms in BC: Atlantic salmon net pens at Dixon Bay and Bawden Point, both north of Tofino, and a coho salmon facility at Ahlstrom Point, near Sechelt..  


Even though IHNV is naturally occurring in the Pacific Northwest, viral amplification is a serious concern. Net pens can create an environment that is conducive to the production of more virulent strains of the virus. Given the high densities of the farmed fish in the pens (and a lack of resistance in Atlantic salmon to IHNV), these operations have the potential to release millions of viral particles into the seawater flushing through the pens with each tide, with the potential to infect juvenile wild salmon passing by on their outmigration to the Pacific Ocean (the virus can survive for up to 3 weeks in seawater). Juvenile salmon are at the highest risk of mortality from IHNV infection, although survivors may act as carriers of the virus and may shed viral particles when stressed; in some cases adult fish succumb to the infection.

Currently no agency monitors the effects of net pen disease outbreaks on wild fish and the environment, as was the case in the Bainbridge Island outbreak. There is also no guarantee that public notice will be made, including notification to consumers of diseased fish (labeling) and the possibility that a purchased fish could still spread the disease...Read more.

WDFW Accepting Sportfishing Rule Change Suggestions 

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is accepting suggestions for modifications to personal use (sport) fishing regulations. Suggestions that make the grade would become Washington law starting May 1, 2013. You have until June 15 to submit these changes. This is a great opportunity to tell WDFW what you think. Visit the WFC website for specific recommendations regarding steelhead and rockfish rule changes, and directions for filling out the WDFW online form. Please take the time to communicate your suggestions to WDFW.  We have the power to affect policy. Thank you!

Family Forest Fish Passage Program: A Win-Win for Wild Fish and Landowner's    

Derelict Culvert   

Are you a landowner with a fish-bearing stream on your property? Do you have a derelict culvert that's impeding fish passage or in need of repair? The Family Forest Fish Passage Program (FFFPP) is a cost-share program that helps small forest landowners correct fish passage barriers on their forest lands. The program provides 75-100% of the cost of correcting a barrier; it also provides technical assistance. The program is implemented by three state agencies; DNR, WDFW, and the Interagency Committee for Outdoor Recreation/Salmon Recovery Funding Board (IAC). The FFFPP is an amazing opportunity for landowners and wild fish. WFC has a wealth of experience restoring barriers to fish passage as well as working with landowners in conjunction with the FFFPP. Take a look at two recent examples: Upper Weiss Creek and Thomas Creek. If you or someone you know is a candidate for this program, please contact Jamie Glasgow by email or at 360-866-4669.  

A Ditch to Become Prime Habitat for Salmon        

Cherry Creek
Waterwheel Ditch


Eight years of studies, planning, and coordination between Wild Fish Conservancy and its Waterwheel Creek partners is finally paying off.  Waterwheel Creek is a tributary of Cherry Creek, and is the Snoqualmie River's lowest major tributary.  Draining 27 square miles, it provides high recovery-benefit potential for ESA-listed Puget Sound Chinook and steelhead, as well as other salmonids in the Snoqualmie River. WFC's Waterwheel Creek Restoration Project is designed to improve fish and wildlife habitat within the WDFW Cherry Valley Wildlife Area (CVWA) while maintaining or improving drainage and other infrastructure for adjacent farmland, and complementing other Wildlife Area uses including hunting, dog-training, and wildlife-watching. The project involves creating a new naturalized stream channel and riparian corridor for Waterwheel Creek, which is currently ditched across the CVWA...Read more.    

Update: Suit to Block Elwha Hatchery Programs
Glines Dam
Progress at Glines Canyon Dam


Not much has changed with our suit to block the Elwha hatchery programs since the last update.  We and our co-plaintiffs have been in discussions with the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe (LEKT), Olympic National Park, and the agencies to determine the scope of future negotiations. The US District Court, however, needs to rule on some motions before the defendants will consider further negotiations, but there is no schedule for the Court to rule on the motions.       


We recently received official notification from the LEKT that they have disposed of the 2012 Elwha River Hatchery production of Chambers Creek steelhead  making it impossible for these fish to be released into the Elwha River.  Most of the fish were released into Horseshoe Lake in Jefferson County, a dead-end lake that does not support anadromous salmonids, while the roughly 400 remaining fish were destroyed.  

Adopt-A-Sample Program 


WFC continues to sample salmon carcasses from western Washington as well as Atlantic salmon gills from the region's supermarkets for Infectious Salmon Anemia virus (ISAv). It is expensive, however to have these samples analyzed by the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) detection method, the most sensitive assay.  After the added expense of shipping these samples to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) labs, each sample costs roughly $50 to process.  Currently we have a backlog of approximately 80 samples and therefore a need of $4,000 to give us this vital information. To raise money to have these samples tested, we are initiating the "Adopt-A-Sample" program.  Please consider making a donation to help us continue this important work. 

What's a Photarium? 


Field biologists, photographers, guides, and educators love 'em. Wild Fish Conservancy Photariums are indispensable tools for observing live fish in the field. Fabricated completely in durable Plexiglas, they are lightweight and corrosion-proof. For storage and travel, the transparent Photarium face is protected by a hinged fold-up cover plate. Available in four sizes. Check out this article the most recent issue of Fly Fishing in Salt Waters for a great shot of the XL photarium being put to good use.    

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