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NW Fishletter #395, July 1, 2019
 Data Lacking For Economic Analysis Of Northern Pike
More research--much more--would be needed to estimate the expected costs of suppressing northern pike in Lake Roosevelt, and the cost to natural resources throughout the Columbia Basin if the voracious salmon predator moves downstream into areas where salmon and steelhead spawn.
Those were the conclusions of David Kling, economics assistant professor at Oregon State University, who worked with the Independent Scientific Advisory Board to answer questions from the Northwest Power and Conservation Council. The answers are contained in a new report, part of a larger quest by the Council to determine how to address predators throughout the Columbia Basin, and particularly its newest threat--the northern pike.
Last month, the Council received findings from the Independent Scientific Advisory Board concluding that northern pike are likely to eventually spread into the middle and lower Columbia River, and that early detection and rapid response will be essential for keeping that spread in check.
Kling told the Council that several critical gaps in data would need to be filled for him to predict the potential costs of a northern pike invasion throughout the system. To do the analysis, he said he would need a model of the northern pike rates of spread through the Columbia Basin, along with a model of food webs in those areas where the pike spread and where salmon and steelhead spawn. He would also need the likely cost of responding to northern pike expansion and its impacts on recreational anglers, foregone power revenue, and the value of species it would prey on.
According to its executive summary, the report is an invitation for investment in additional research, particularly in the economics and ecology of invasive species control. "Substantial evidence suggests that [northern pike] may prove to be a costly invader in the [Columbia River basin] that is unlikely to be eradicated. Unfortunately, it is also unlikely to be the last harmful aquatic invader introduced into the region. Investment in quantitative decision support tools now, with input from economists and natural scientists, may facilitate rapid assessment and informed prioritization of management resources in the future," it said. -K.C. Mehaffey
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