Volunteers wanted as WDFW marks millions of hatchery salmon for release

Paid positions also available as scoring effort continues

OLYMPIA – The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is seeking additional help to mark more than 110 million hatchery salmon and steelhead trout to identify them as hatchery fish before they are released into state waters in 2022.

WDFW’s mass tagging program has played a vital role in salmon management since the mid-1990s. Hatchery fish are tagged by cutting off their adipose fin while they are still in the frying stage, before to be released to travel from their home waters to the ocean and back. This marking helps differentiate hatchery fish from naturally occurring or “wild” fish, playing a key role in fisheries where anglers may encounter salmon stocks or species listed under the Species Act in Endangered.

WDFW is currently hiring paid positions to do this vital work, but staffing in recent years has been difficult, said Eric Kinne, director of WDFW’s Hatchery division.

“This work is vital to the fishery statewide and critical to salmon conservation efforts,” Kinne said. “We continue to work to recruit for these positions, but over the past year, community members have stepped up in a big way to help us carry out this annual effort.”

This work is done annually for several months in the spring and early summer at hatcheries in Washington. Work is often done in shifts throughout the day and even on weekends, so there are plenty of volunteering opportunities. Anyone interested in volunteering at a WDFW hatchery can visit the WDFW website at https://wdfw.wa.gov/get-involved/volunteer

Anyone interested in applying for a paid tagging position can search for positions in their area and apply through Kelly Services. These full-time temporary positions pay $16.49 per hour with the ability to start immediately, no experience required and training offered.

WDFW applied for additional funding ahead of this year’s legislative session to improve the automation of its tagging process and fund additional work, but much of the annual tagging effort is still done by hand by employees and volunteers working in marking trailers.

“We have 11 million more fish to tag this year than last year which is great news but also means we need even more help in 2022,” Kinne said. “If this work is not completed, it could have big impacts on fishing in Washington.”

To learn more about WDFW’s mass branding program, visit https://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/management/hatcheries/mass-marking.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife strives to preserve, protect, and perpetuate fish, wildlife, and ecosystems while providing sustainable fishing, wildlife, and recreational and commercial opportunities.

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