Business

Bellingham Food Co-op takes step to help orcas. Here’s how it will impact customers

Northwest orcas: Hunting enough salmon to survive

The endangered southern resident killer whales in Washington’s Puget Sound can’t find enough salmon to eat, and they are paying for it with their lives.
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The endangered southern resident killer whales in Washington’s Puget Sound can’t find enough salmon to eat, and they are paying for it with their lives.

The Community Food Co-op has decided to help the orca whale population by no longer selling its main food source.

The Bellingham-based grocer announced in a news release on April 25 that it has put a moratorium on selling wild chinook and king salmon. The co-op said it will focus sales on salmon caught in Alaska, but not sell any chinook/king salmon caught in Washington, Oregon and British Columbia waters.

This moratorium only applies to chinook/king salmon, said Amy Esary, marketing manager at the co-op. The grocer will still sell sockeye, silver and pink salmon that is caught in the Pacific Northwest, including from Lummi Island Wild.

Esary said they sold 500 pounds of king salmon in 2018. The co-op has two stores in Bellingham, a bakery and a cafe.

The moratorium decision was based on recommendations they received to help preserve the orcas, particularly the endangered southern resident whales, which only had a population of 74 last summer. The main food source for the southern resident orcas is chinook and king salmon, although they will eat other salmon species at different times of the year, according to the Wild Orca website.

Adrienne Renz, the Co-op’s general manager, said stewardship and advocacy are part of their main initiatives.

“We strive to energize our member-owners to support positive change around core issues that affect our community’s future. We consider saving the orcas as one of those core issues,” Renz said in the news release.

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Dave Gallagher has covered the Whatcom County business community since 1998. Retail, real estate, jobs and port redevelopment are among the topics he covers.
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