Study: Chinook salmon much smaller, younger these days

SEATTLE (AP) — A new study finds that chinook salmon in the Columbia River and the northeastern Pacific from California to western Alaska are not as big as they used to be.

The Seattle Times reports researchers, in a study published in the journal, Fish and Fisheries, say chinook, the biggest and most prized species of salmon in North America, are smaller and younger.

Data shows the big chinook have decreased both in numbers and in size — as much as 10 percent in length, and substantially more in weight.

Scientists from the University of Washington, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center Conservation Biology Division, and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game examined 85 chinook populations along the West Coast of North America.

In some Alaska populations, big chinook are virtually nonexistent.