A NW EnerNet News Service of Energy NewsData

[1] Tribes and Commercial Fishers Pan Washington's Wild Fish Plan
[2] Sports Group Supports Shank's Proposal
[3] Survival of the Unfittest? NBS Biologist Says Hatchery Fish Reduce Survival Fitness of Wild Salmonids
[4] Idaho's New Hatchery Policy
[5] Oregon Farmers Frustrated Over Drawdown Proposal, Close Access to Hunters
[6] Salmon Spending Agreement Nearly Nailed Down
[7] The Northwest Salmon Crisis-a new book traces the historic roots of the region's most contentious environmental issue

***Fish News***

[1] TRIBES AND COMMERCIAL FISHERS PAN WILD FISH PLAN :: The Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife has upped the stakes of their proposed wild salmonid policy with a tough new draft that has received universally negative reviews by both tribes and commercial fishermen.

Tony Meyer, spokesman for the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission said the new tack was a total surprise, and his boss, executive director James Anderson said the fishery agency's unilateral proposal threatened to derail the alternatives the tribes and some state agencies have agreed on.

Lanny Pillatos, executive director of the Puget Sound Gillnetters Association said "it clearly shows that the new director and the commission are pro-sports. It's pretty blatant." Pillatos and Rob Zuanich, who represents purse seine vessel owners, were scheduled to met with Bern Shanks, state fisheries director on Sept. 9 to express their concerns. Pillatos said that the 25 percent harvest cut called for would completely end non-tribal commercial fishing.

But John Sayre, head of Long Live the Kings, a private group dedicated to salmon enhancement, was "totally supportive" of the new initiative, though he was cautious about the final outcome, once it went "through the buzzsaw of political reaction."

Prepared at the direction of new WDFW director Shanks, the proposal is a response to the legislature's direction to produce a coordinated state wild salmonid policy.

"This proposed policy is based on science, not politics. It proposes a number of bitter pills including less logging along stream banks, fewer fishing opportunities, better protection for wetlands and more restrictions on water use," said Shanks.

"But if Washington residents thought the federal listing of the spotted owl under the Endangered Species Act was a train wreck," he added, "they should know a salmon or steelhead listing will mean enormous economic disruption that will hurt the fishing, hydroelectric, transportation, agricultural and other important issues."

Shanks said the federal government is close to listing some Washington coho salmon and steelhead stocks under the Endangered Species Act.

Key goals include protecting all useable wild freshwater, estuarine and marine environments important for fish migration, spawning and rearing; maintaining genetic diversity of wild fish: managing fisheries to allow adequate numbers of wild fish to spawn; and using hatcheries in ways to minimize genetic and ecological impacts on wild salmon while producing fish for harvest.

Dick Stone of WDFW said the bolder policy was initiated by Shanks shortly after he took over the job several months ago. Up till then, the agency had been building a wild salmonid policy with input from other state agencies and west side tribes. Stone said they were working on their seventh draft when the new directive was issued.

The old draft had already taken plenty of heat from commercial interests. In the July issue of Fishermen's News, Ed Owens of the Coalition of Coastal Fisheries, wrote, "The voice of the moderate conservation community--those that recognize the balance between harvest and restoration and the important role of fishermen as fish advocates--appears to have also been excluded from development of this proposed policy."

Bill Frank Jr., chairman of the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission expressed reservations as well. In a letter that was included with the Oct. 1995 draft ESI of the state's wild salmonid policy, he said the tribes favored a more balanced approach towards harvest, enhancement, and habitat.

Stone said his agency will now solicit more input from tribes and the seven other state agencies involved. A final draft is scheduled to be ready after the first of the year when it will be subject to another public review.

Director Shanks was not perturbed by the criticism. He said the new proposal was drafted with only the needs of the fish in mind. "Everything I've seen before this has been rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic."

For a copy of the draft proposal, call (360) 902-2743 [Bill Rudolph].

[2] PRIVATE ENHANCEMENT GROUP SUPPORTS WASHINGTON'S WILD SALMON PROPOSAL :: John Sayre, executive director of the Seattle-based Long Live the Kings, is firmly behind the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife's latest proposal to protect and preserve wild salmon stocks. He's sure that some kind of hatchery production will continue--it has to--says Sayre, to provide for viable fisheries.

"But what is the role of hatcheries in recovery?" asks Sayre. That's exactly the kind of question we should be asking he says, and that's what the new proposal plans to investigate.

Sayre says costs of habitat restoration can be as high as $1 million a mile and we simply do not have enough money to fix every stream in the state. In remarks he made to the Seattle Rotary on April 26 and recently reprinted in the Seattle Times, Sayre is optimistic that artificial production facilities can be designed to minimize negative effects on native fish. He pointed to several locations in the state, Glenwood Springs on Orcas Island, the Wishkah River, and Lilliwaup on Hood Canal, where successful projects are underway.

"We intend to duplicate these successful efforts coast-wide through an emphasis on outreach, working with other private groups along the coast, including Canada. We intend to return the salmon to its rightful place in every stream and in every river--to serve as a public symbol and community resource. Our next step is to build a people's movement on behalf of Pacific salmon" [Bill Rudolph].

[3] HATCHERY FISH REDUCE SURVIVAL FITNESS OF WILD SALMONIDS :: After evaluating the interactions among hatchery and wild salmon for over 18 years, Dr. Reg Reisenbichler of the National Biological Service concludes that using hatcheries to boost wild salmonid populations not only doesn't work, it is a factor causing future declines in wild salmon and steelhead populations.

Dr. Reisenbichler says, "Various persons have insisted that hatchery supplementation programs will have only a trivial effect on the carrying capacity or productivity of naturally spawning populations, particularly if wild fish exclusively are used for hatchery brood stock. I explore this thesis...and find the thesis false."

According to him, the existing data better supports the conclusion that hatchery supplementation will substantially decrease the productivity of wild salmonids and will result in total production being far less than anticipated if genetic changes are not considered.

The problem is what Dr. Reisenbichler calls domestication selection, when fish adapt to the hatchery environment, especially at early life stages, and survive better than they do in the natural stream environment. This means the genetic fitness for survival is reduced for hatchery fish in streams even when the hatchery stock comes from wild parents.

"The available data suggest progressively declining fitness for natural rearing with increasing generations in the hatchery--the reduction in survival from egg to adult may be about 25% after one generation in the hatchery, and 85% after many (greater than six) generations," says Dr. Reisenbichler. He says, "The cumulative effects of hatchery supplementation will vary with the proportion of wild fish brought into the hatchery each year, the productivities for hatchery and natural rearing, and the period of density dependent limitation in the natural stream." Actual production (hatchery plus natural) using hatchery supplementation can be only one-third of that expected if the genetic consequences of hatchery rearing are ignored, according to Dr. Reisenbichler. The effect of supplementation may show up in the form of more adults, but the productivity of the wild population continues to decline during supplementation, masking a biological problem. Once supplementation is terminated, the wild population may be in danger of extinction depending on how quickly it can regain fitness for natural rearing.

He concludes by saying fish managers can seriously overestimate the benefits of hatchery supplementation by ignoring genetic consequences. Modifying hatchery environments to reduce domestication selection and genetic problems may help, but just how much is an unknown and it may be slight.

Dr. Reisenbichler recommends that additional work needs to be done to understand the rates of genetic change in survival fitness for steelhead where there is at least some data available and for salmon species where there has been almost no data collected.

This is unfortunate news since hatchery supplementation and captive brood programs have been increased in the region as the answer for declining wild runs of salmon and steelhead. For example, the Northwest Power Planning Council and the National Marine Fisheries Service have just approved 15 hatchery supplementation projects for the Columbia Basin that will cost over $27 million in the next six years. Neither the NMFS nor the Power Council have a policy on using hatchery supplementation in their efforts to stem the decline even though both agencies have been informed by scientists that hatchery supplementation is a high risk investment. (Source: Alternative Hypotheses for the Benefits and the Risks Posed by Hatchery Supplementation of Naturally Spawning Populations of Steelhead by Reg Reisenbichler, jan. 1996) [Bill Bakke].

[4] IDAHO DEVELOPS NEW HATCHERY POLICY :: In a 1994 issue paper the Idaho Fish and Game Department set forth a new vision for its hatchery program in response to listing the Snake River chinook under the Endangered Species Act.

The agency said, "sustainable recovery of salmon is dependent on increasing the number of naturally produced fish while maintaining the native stock structure. Although hatcheries cannot provide recovery, they may help preserve populations on the brink of extinction until legitimate recovery begins. This preservation role of hatcheries is largely unproven."

Idaho's new approach to using hatcheries is a major departure from how they were historically used. This change is based on the failure of traditional hatchery programs to mitigate for salmon losses due to dam construction on the Snake River, to maintain the supply of fish and to enhance commercial and sport fisheries.

According to Ed Bowles, IFG, this policy is still in effect and has transformed the operations of state and federal hatchery program to be more focused on conservation rather than production of fish. "Restructuring the mitigation hatchery system was necessary for chinook because there were no benefits, so we moved toward a preservation role for hatcheries," says Bowles.

Idaho believes that sustainable recovery is dependent not only on the goal of increasing numbers of naturally produced salmon, but also maintaining as much of the natural stock structure as possible. Consequently, Idaho views extirpated or out-crossed populations as having a lower recovery priority than local populations that retain the majority of their genetic characteristics. Faced with 75% of their natural, wild populations of chinook having fewer than ten female spawners from 1994 to 1998, Idaho has taken action to establish conservation standards that will drive the recovery of these fish. "We have moved from hatchery supplementation to captive brood rearing. The lack of spawners has removed some options from our tool bag," said Bowles.

The Idaho Fish and Game Department states, "We remain adamant that the only realistic route to sustainable recovery of Snake River anadromous salmonids is to manage lower Snake River dams and reservoirs to more closely simulate natural riverine conditions during the smolt emigration period."

In a meeting with the National Marine Fisheries Service staff, the following hatchery guidelines for recovery and preservation of listed chinook were presented: 1) recovery will not begin until limiting factors are improved (i.e., mainstem passage); 2) use of hatcheries to preserve or recover natural populations is experimental and unproven; 3) hatchery interventions must strive to maintain existing stock structures; 4) preservation and recovery should emphasize conserving populations and their natural habitats; and 5) when there is uncertainty, interventions must err on the side of natural populations.

When considering ongoing hatchery programs, Idaho Fish and Game says, "Programs that do not provide an adult-to-adult survival advantage over natural fish, or produce unacceptable genetic, behavioral and ecological risks, should be terminated or modified." Also, the department does not recommend additional hatchery supplementation programs for populations currently without hatchery influence [Bill Bakke].

[5] OREGON FARMERS FRUSTRATED OVER DRAWDOWN PROPOSAL, CLOSE ACCESS TO HUNTERS :: Some eastern Oregon farmers and the Port of Morrow, Oregon have closed their lands to hunters after state officials refused to publicize the wildlife benefits from the existence of the John Day Reservoir.

In a letter to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife on Aug 16, Gary Neal, general manager of the Port of Morrow, near Boardman, expressed concern "about the fish issues and how they might impact the economic viability of our region."

Neal said, "The wildlife benefits that exist today because of the John Day Reservoir (at its current level), the irrigation circles, Carty Reservoir and the wetlands that have been established, are a story that has to be told."

He wanted the information to be distributed by ODFW to all hunters in the Regulated Hunt Programs before the port would grant sportsmen access to their property. Neal and his group also wanted the state agency to send the media updates during hunting season that described the benefits the reservoir and irrigation have on wildlife and the "cooperation that is happening in our region."

The state offered to supply some generic information to hunters and the media, but was not willing to directly publicize the value of the reservoir.

James Greer, assistant director for wildlife, ODFW, told Neal by letter the following week that his agency "is not a decision maker relative to a reservoir drawdown on the John Day Pool to recover listed Snake River salmon." He said the state supported a feasibility study of a NMFS proposal for a John Day drawdown, but that did not mean either the state or ODFW supported an actual drawdown. Greer added that the study needed to address other issues besides fisheries, including the impact on the water table and wells, irrigation systems, navigation, power production and other natural resource issues.

But that wasn't good enough for Neal and his constituents. In an Aug. 22 letter to Greer, Neal wrote, "Let me make perfectly clear that if a scientific study indicates that drawdowns on the John Day reservoir to spillway crest could help salmon, but economic impacts would devastate our region, we will oppose this concept as strongly as we can. This single issue could very easily override the programs currently in place."

Neal wanted ODFW to clearly spell out the benefits of John Day Pool and how the irrigation circles enhanced wildlife habitat, as well as requesting a final review of the material before it was distributed.

Greer replied that his department could not relinquish final approval of agency documents and publications. He said because of the time factor, a reduced hunt program would be offered to the state fish and wildlife commission excluding port lands.

How much land will be off limits to hunters this fall? Neal said it involves "a lot of farmers, each with a little land."

Irrigation consultant Fred Ziari pegged the affected area at around 60,000 acres. " This is a grassroots effort by a number of growers in eastern Oregon," said Ziari, "expressing the frustration with the last six years of political football." Ziari said farmers are sorry they have to go to such lengths, but both the media and the government don't pay attention. Unless policy makers work with the resource users, he added, there won't be any solution.

In a Aug. 29 draft letter (revision #7) from NMFS regional director Will Stelle to the COE's acting division commander, Col. Bartholomew Bohn, NMFS recognized that "the social and economic costs associated with either a spillway crest or natural river drawdown also must be weighed against alternative means of achieving survival and recovery goals (e.g., transportation and/or surface bypass/collection). The federal agency says further that more studies are needed to determine whether potential biological benefits due to reduced travel time or additional riverine spawning and rearing habitat "are likely to be achieved under either spillway crest or natural river drawdown."

NMFS considers the reservoir drawdown to MOP no longer feasible since it is unlikely to have survival benefits comparable to other proposed long-term actions. In the draft, NMFS cites "new information" that suggests a John Day drawdown to MOP may have been even smaller than anticipated in the BiOp. The federal agency cited the National Research Council study that concluded benefits of a drawdown to a level above natural river have not been demonstrated. NMFS also mentioned the Independent Scientific Group's public comments that "the greatest benefit of a drawdown would not be from a decrease in smolt travel time, but from an increase in riverine spawning and rearing habitat." The scientific group will formally present a review of its findings at the Power Council meeting in Clarkston, Wash. on Sept. 18.

Irate Oregon farmers may face the prospects of an eventual drawdown far beyond what they have yet anticipated, but Northwest hunters, with less turf to tramp, will certainly take notice. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimated that more than 80 million ducks will fly south this fall, the largest fall flight since 1979 [Bill Rudolph].

[6] SALMON SPENDING AGREEMENT NEARLY NAILED DOWN :: Negotiators were trying to get the final ink on the salmon spending cap by the weekend of Sept. 7-8 after meeting in Washington DC on Sept. 6, the deadline for settlement set by Katie McGinty of the White House Office of Environmental Policy. The Memorandum of Agreement was nearly finalized between BPA, the Corps of Engineers, the Bureau of Reclamation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and NMFS, when Northwest tribes requested participation in the process, which has led to protracted negotiations with the Clinton Administration.

It looks like $435 million will remain both a floor and a ceiling in annual spending by BPA. It is made up of two parts, with $252 million pegged for the Power Council's fish and wildlife program, reimbursibles (where BPA pays back other federal agencies), and capital investment costs which pay for Corps of Engineers and Bureau of Reclamation programs, amortization, depreciation and interest payments.

The second part of the $435 million is an estimate of the cost of implementing the BiOp, which has been penciled in at $183 million with the understanding that the cost could go up to $300 million in some years. Also included is a contingency fund of $325 million to pay for unforeseen costs.

Last month, the White House gave Northwest tribes up to 60 more days to consult with members and develop a list of issues to settle before reaching an agreement, but pressure from all eight Northwest senators speeded up the process, after they sent a letter to Vice president Gore asking for help in implementing the agreement.

It was reported that Ted Strong, executive director of the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission, did not attend the Washington meeting with McGinty and other White house officials on Sept. 6, leading to speculation that tribal commitment has dropped off. Just what did the tribes gain from the MOA? Insiders say they got an acknowledged role in the process and recognition of the tribal salmon restoration plan [Bill Rudolph].

[7] "THE NORTHWEST SALMON CRISIS" -A NEW BOOK EXAMINES THE HISTORIC ROOTS OF THE REGION'S MOST CONTENTIOUS ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUE :: Edited by Joseph Cone and Sandy Ridlington of Oregon Sea Grant, The Northwest Salmon Crisis is a collection of eighty historic documents and contemporary essays that examine the plight of the Pacific Northwest salmon, including commentaries by NW Fishletter's contributing editor, Bill Bakke. Issues addressed include habitat, hatcheries, hydropower, fisheries, Indian fishing rights and watershed management, with historical photographs to complement the text. The book is available at bookstores or can be ordered directly from the OSU Press, Dept. NSC, 101 Waldo Hall, Corvallis, OR 97331-6407. Phone: (541) 737-3166.

***Document Annex***
Works Cited

DOCUMENTS FROM NW FISHLETTER 017 :: Below are listed available documents referred to in the text of NW Fishletter issue 017.

THE ARCHIVE :: Previous NW Fishletter issues and supporting documents.

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Last modified: September 6, 1996