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Seattle market to stop selling chinook to help orcas

A Chinook salmon, second from the bottom, swims in the Columbia River with sockeye salmon at the Bonneville Dam fish-counting window near North Bonneville, Wash. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

Seattle-based PCC Community Markets says it will stop selling all chinook salmon products caught in Northwest waters to help critically endangered orcas.

RELATED: Worried about salmon? What chef Tom Douglas says you should consider

The whales that spend time the waters of Washington state have struggled because of lack of chinook salmon. They also face threats from pollution and vessel noise that can interfere with their ability to forage and communicate.

PCC’s Brenna Davis said in a statement Monday that the image of a mother orca pushing her dead calf in the water for days this summer prompted the co-op to think about what it could do.

Other restaurants in Seattle have also said they’ll pull chinook, also known as king salmon, from menus. Renee Erickson, whose restaurants include The Walrus and the Carpenter and the Whale Wins, among several others, said in August she was taking a stand by no longer serving humans the orcas’ favorite food.

“As humans, we have to start paying attention,” Erickson told KIRO 7, as she sat inside her newest entry into Seattle’s red-hot restaurant market.

“Having to catch fish to feed a whale is terrible,” she said

PCC said Monday it won’t sell fresh, frozen and smoked salmon caught in the waters of Washington, Oregon or British Columbia. It will replace it with chinook from Alaska.

Seattle chef Tom Douglas also said he’s focused on sourcing salmon from Alaska and making sure they’re not buying local king salmon.

Douglas is concerned with the Pebble mine in the Bristol Bay region of southwest Alaska. The region has deposits of gold, copper, and molybdenum which are highly sought after. But opponents say mining the ore deposit there would negatively impact the entire watershed that salmon rely upon.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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