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Chinook salmon returns in Columbia River could be near-record low

While the forecasted return is up 12% from 2019, Chinook numbers remain at historic lows.

TACOMA, Wash — Editors note: the above video originally aired in December 2019.

Washington state authorities say returns of spring Chinook to the Columbia River this year could hit the second lowest numbers on record due to poor ocean conditions. This year's forecasted return of 81,700 upriver spring Chinook is up 12% from last year, which was the lowest number of returning spring Chinook since 1999. 

Chinook around the Pacific Northwest have suffered similarly dwindling numbers, which is evident in fishing regulations that seek to limit harvests in an effort to rebuild the population. Chinook fishing has been prohibited in 2020 on the Cowlitz River, Cispus River, and Lake Scanewa. It was restricted on the  Kalama River.

RELATED: Washington's fishing season to open in May despite steelhead drop

New fishing regulations this year for the Columbia River set the season from April 1 to May 5. The expected harvest is about 340 adult Chinook above the Bonneville Dam and 2,500 below it. 

Fishing regulations have yet to be set for this year for spring Chinook on the Snake River, but the catch is expected to be similarly constrained.

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