Bellingham co-op is the latest store or restaurant to stop selling Chinook salmon

Bellingham supermarket making drastic decision in hopes of saving salmon

BELLINGHAM, Wash. — You'll still see salmon at the Community Food Co-Op in Bellingham, but the grocery store is the latest to join in a moratorium on selling Chinook salmon caught off the coasts of Washington, Oregon and British Columbia.

That kind of salmon is essentially the only food source for our starving southern resident killer whales.

We caught up with Nell Clymer inside the co-op as she was buying the makings of a perfect Friday night meal. Her entree of choice: salmon, in this case sockeye.

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After discussion with the community and the local fishers as well as presentations from the Lummi Nation, co-op general manager Adrienne Renz says this salmon season they opted out of purchasing local Chinook salmon.

"That salmon population is dwindling so it's a piece. I know on our part we'll close our fish season not contributing to that," Renz explained.

This co-op is not the first co-op to make that choice; last year PCC Community Markets in Seattle decided to go Chinook-free, as did Seattle restaurateur Renee Erickson. We spoke to her last September.

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​"There's so many other species of salmon that we can serve and cook that it just didn't seem necessary to have it," she told KIRO 7.

But it's a bold move for places like the Community Food Co-Op, still a small fish in the heavily saturated sea of grocery stores.

"We take advocacy as one of our core fundamental values that we have," Renz said.

Sometimes that means putting planet before profit and encouraging customers like Clymer to go Alaskan or just buy the halibut.

"I think we have to protect the orcas because there's not that many of them left or whales in general, and I think that it's OK for us to eat something else," Clymer concluded.