Banner runs of Pacific salmon helped feed thousands of Oregonians in 2014.
Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife hatcheries donated more than 350,000 pounds of Chinook and coho salmon to food banks in communities across the state.
The huge donation of high quality protein was made possible by one of the largest returns of Pacific salmon in years. A record 1.2 million Chinook and 1 million coho returned to the Columbia River in 2014. Similar returns are expected again in 2015.
“The unprecedented returns salmon to our region the past two years have benefited fishermen, the economy, and helped feed thousands of people who might otherwise have gone hungry,” said Chris Kern, deputy administrator of ODFW’s fish division.
The vast majority of salmon donated to Oregon’s food banks are collected after ODFW hatcheries gather enough eggs to produce the following year’s crop of juvenile salmon. Once the young salmon are reared at the hatcheries and then released, a small percentage of them will return to the hatcheries as adults after spending three or four years maturing in the ocean.
“We’re proud that our hatcheries have such positive impact on the lives of Oregonians,” said Manny Farinas, ODFW West Region hatchery coordinator. “Thanks to all of our great volunteers that helped collect, process, and deliver the fish to the various food banks.”
If forecasts materialize as hoped, 2015 could be another outstanding year for salmon returns. Preliminary data compiled in December by fishery managers from Oregon and Washington suggests Chinook returns will be even larger than 2014 while coho returns could be mixed.
“All the indicators are pointing to another good year of salmon returns,” Kern said.