Photo by Chris Ringlee
Of icial Newsletter of the Wild Steelhead Coalition icial Newsletter of the Wild Steelhead Coalition www.WildSteelheadCoalition.org
WSC Recommends Termination of the Snider Creek Steelhead Supplementation Program on the Sol Duc River
Why Terminate this Hatchery?
his month, the 25‐year contract of the Snider Creek steelhead supplementa on program in the Sol Duc River basin is up for renewal and as part of the process, the Washington Division of Fish and Wildlife We need YOUR help (WDFW) accepted public comments at two mee ngs to let the WDFW know on June 7 and 9, in Forks and Mill Creek, WA respec‐ that this program vely, and will also accept public comments via email should be terminated. through June 30, 2011.
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While we applaud the eﬀorts of the Olympic Peninsu‐ la Guides Associa on for their volunteer work in maintaining this program, a er a thorough review of the Snider Creek Steelhead Program document pub‐ lished by the WDFW, the Wild Steelhead Coali on (WSC) recommends elimina on of the Snider Creek project. (Read the WDFW review of this project.)
The WSC also recommends the crea on of a wild Submit your own steelhead gene bank in the Sol Duc River and that the comments directly Sol Duc River be managed as a Wild Steelhead Man‐ to the WDFW at agement Area. This will allow the popula on to reach both peak abundance and gene c diversity, and pro‐ email@example.com vide new informa on on the best ways to manage wild steelhead. This would include recovery of the Comments may also be early winter‐run, protec on for rainbow trout sent by U.S. Mail to: throughout the en re basin, and provide a measure Snider Creek of protec on of early spawners when they reach 48 Devonshire Road their spawning beds. We recommend that fishing Montesano, WA 98563 con nue during the full season on the Sol Duc River. If WDFW finds that it must produce hatchery fish All wri en comments must for January fishing, we recommend spli ng the be submi ed by June 30th Bogachiel River hatchery produc on into two groups, ming the first group in December and the second in January. Addi onally, the WSC recommends against using the Calawah River for winter hatchery produc‐ on on the Olympic Peninsula.
WSC’s decision to recommend termina on of this facility is based up on the following science‐based considera ons: Under no scenario can a wild popula on maintain its natural abundance when hatchery fish are plant‐ ed and spawn in the river. Recent research has con‐ clusively shown this. Hatchery steelhead—when they spawn in the wild—lose about a third of their produc vity com‐ pared to wild steelhead. If hatchery steelhead spawn with wild steelhead, this gene c produc vity loss con nues to decline through genera ons. Wild steelhead stocks never fully recover from the impacts of hatchery steelhead. An es mate of the average run size in the Quillayute River system (which contains the Sol Duc River) in the 1950s was 17,600 wild steelhead. That average dropped to 14,300 in the 1980s and to about 10,700 during the recent five‐year period. The four major river systems on the Olympic Penin‐ sula are the last stronghold for wild steelhead in Washington and the last area where runs are stated healthy each year and managed to allow some har‐ vest. The Snider Creek program removes about 50 wild Sol Duc River steelhead each year for their program. See addi onal informa on regarding this hatchery program in Dick Burge’s ar cle beginning on page 3. Sol Duc Rive r
Quilla yute River
r ve Ri uc lD
Snider Creek Rearing Pond
Olympic National Park
Photo by Bob Clay
We urge our membership and other wild steelhead advocates to By Rich Simms, WSC President contact the WDFW and request them to trap and “When the walls come grams and hatchery fish. Natural recoloniza on pro‐ transport wild vides a unique opportunity for the region to evaluate tumblin' down…” conserva on hatcheries as well as management re‐ steelhead above — John Mellencamp — gimes by providing a cri cally needed natural control the sediment free of the confounding influence of fish from large‐ load behind the scale in‐basin hatcheries”. current Elwha n June 1, 2011, with the flick of a switch, the genera‐ dams. In March, the WSC, Wild Fish Conservancy and Steelhead tors on the Glines Canyon and Elwha dams went silent. A new era was ushered in as the first step in the dismantling Commi ee of FFF hosted the Steelhead Summit Alliance Event, which invited dis nguished scien sts and writers of the two Elwha River dams on the Olympic Peninsula. who presented diverse points of view on the subject of What was just an idea by a small group of conserva on‐ ists over two decades ago, is now about to be a wild, free‐ Elwha River fish restora on. Par cipants included some of flowing anadromous river with habitat protec on war‐ the authors of the NOAA report, as well as others with ranted by Olympic Na onal Park. Truly an amazing story. extensive experience on the subject of managing fisheries However. the Elwha has always been a river of stories: the for na ve fish restora on and enhancement. Press Expedi on, 100‐pound chinook salmon, the sedi‐ In May, we had a follow‐up mee ng with the WDFW staﬀ ment load that helped build Ediz Hook…but it also con‐ ceals a secret in the deep, emerald canopy of evergreens and leaders from the organiza ons that signed onto the earlier January le er. The intent of the mee ng was to and cool canyon pools. “This is a unique discuss various points of the le er, further iterate the juncture we Behind those two fish‐impervious impoundments, there is point of no out‐of‐basin hatchery supplementa on for should not miss a life history alive and well just aching to reclaim itself to wild steelhead and discuss further restora on ideas. One idea presented was that in lieu of wild broodstock supple‐ for wild steelhead its full diversity poten al: wild steelhead in the form of resident rainbow trout. More and more, science is reveal‐ menta on to put resources into capturing wild steelhead recovery.”
The President’s Run
ing just how important a role resident rainbow trout play in the life history, propaga on and restora on of wild steelhead. Many of us have come to realize just how unique of an opportunity we have to witness and study how a species can reclaim itself, just as they’ve done through me.
The river habitat and the gene c make‐up are there, but we just need to give the fish a chance. The big ques on remains: will we take advantage of this alignment or will we bend to poli cal pressures and wills at stage and fool ourselves to believe hatchery supplementa on has its place? I like to think and believe that science will carry the day and will support this rare chance of allowing the river to reseed itself as Ma’ Nature intended.
Arial photo of the Lake Mills sediment delta.
In January, Wild Steelhead Coali on (WSC), Wild Fish Conservancy and Steelhead Commi ee of Federa on of Flyfishers, The Conserva on Angler, Na ve Fish Society, Jack Sanford, and Jim Lichatowich provided comments together for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) on the Elwha River Restora on Plan. One bullet in the le er clearly states:
“The dam removals present a rare and invaluable op‐ portunity to evaluate and monitor the natural recoloni‐ za on by na ve migratory salmonids of a largely intact major riverine ecosystem in the absence of the con‐ founding and corrup ng influence of hatchery pro‐
and transpor ng them above the sediment load and allow them access above the dismantled dams to commingle with their other life history form, resident rainbow trout.
The WSC believes this idea has great poten al to help restore wild steelhead in the Elwha River basin. Pu ng resources and reliance on ar ficial produc on doses not reflect the best available science and ignores numerous recent peer‐reviewed publica ons describing the risks that hatchery fish in general and supplementa on programs in par cular pose to wild steelhead and salmon. We strongly urge our membership and other wild steel‐ head advocates to contact the WDFW and request them to grasp the opportunity to trap and transport wild steel‐ head above the sediment load to propagate in the pris ne habitat now available to them and meet the other mem‐ bers of their life history. This is a unique juncture we should not miss for wild steelhead recovery.
Please contact Jim Sco at the WDFW and let him know that this idea is included as a viable op on for recovery plans on the Elwha River. (Jim.Sco @dfw.wa.com, phone 360‐902‐2736) Help add this occasion to the river’s stories...
The Snider Creek Hatchery: The impacts of the hatchery and increased wild stock harvest on the early Sol Duc River winter wild steelhead run with recommendations for recovery.
By Dick Burge Introduction
ebuilding the wild steelhead run on the Sol Duc River to its maxi‐ mum capacity means we must develop a plan to recover the “...Reproductive early run and all other depleted components of the total run. performance of This is possible only if we eliminate hatchery plan ngs stocks the Sol Duc mixed and concentrate on improving the total abundance, diversity, hatchery/wild distribu on and produc vity (Viable Salmonid Popula on population will (VSP) Characteris cs) of the natural stock. The best and only continue to feasible healthy river in which to do this is the Sol Duc River decline under which s ll has a run of early and late run fish and good habi‐ all hatchery tat.
We find from the literature that the reproduc ve perfor‐ mance of the Sol Duc mixed hatchery/wild popula on will con nue to decline under all hatchery supplementa on sce‐ narios. Even a mixture with fewer numbers of hatchery fish in the spawning popula on, the early run will remain in its pre‐ sent status and not naturally rebuild un l the hatchery fish are removed. The change in gene cs is cumula ve, carrying over from year to year and dilu ng into the wild popula on. As example, the Hood River lost 8% of the natural popula on produc vity a er only 2 genera ons. Before star ng the first sec on of this paper, we want to describe the WSC visions for a healthier, more abundant and more secured future for wild fish and fishing on the Sol Duc River.
Vision 1. Improved management for the Sol Duc River that will provide the opportunity of wild runs to increase in abun‐ dance and provide for a good sport fishery similar to the late run. This change will also provide all of us the opportunity to “In the 1940’s see how other wild stocks can be managed to provide similar and 1950’s the results and prevent deple on from future increases in fishing estimate of the eﬀort, hatchery impacts and climate change.
average winter run size for the Quillayute River system was about 17,600 wild ish.
That average dropped to 14,300 ish in the 1980’s and then to about 10,700 ish during the last 5 years.”
Vision 2. The Bogachiel seems well rooted as the primary steelhead supplementa on hatchery for the Quillayute River system. If WDFW finds the poli cs overwhelming to maintain addi onal hatchery produc on, regardless of all the recent biological informa on that shows hatchery fish are reducing wild steelhead runs, we recommend minor changes in the Bogachiel Hatchery that will provide med hatchery fish re‐ turning in both the late November/December period and during a late December/January period.
The Statewide WDFW Steelhead Management Plan The recent Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) Statewide Steelhead Management Plan (SSMP) placed the highest policy priority on the “protec on of wild
steelhead stocks to maintain and restore stocks to healthy levels”. The policy con nued with the strategy to “Protect and Restore the Diversity of Wild Stocks” and to “Evaluate and modify management ac ons to promote local adap on,
increase and maintain the diversity within and among stocks, and sustain and maximize the long‐term produc vi‐ ty of wild stocks”. The SSMP further discusses managing for all Viable Salmonid Popula on (VSP) characteris cs including abundance, produc vity, diversity and spa al
structure to be resilient through environmental fluctua‐ ons, to perform natural ecological func ons in freshwater and marine systems and provide related cultural values to society, and sustain tribal and recrea onal fisheries. The Historical Evidence of the Early Wild Steelhead Run on the Olympic Peninsula
This sec on was prepared to discuss the declining abun‐ dances of the wild steelhead runs on the west side Olym‐ pic Peninsula Rivers. It will highlight the loss of the early season run diversity as integral component of the total run due in part to a mixed stock fishery for wild and hatchery fish as a major factor for this decline. Clearly the wild runs would be healthier, more diverse and resilient, if the early run was rebuilt to a level approaching its historical abun‐ dances in Olympic Peninsula Rivers. Recovering the early run will also recreate a valuable wild steelhead fishery for wild steelhead during December, January and February that will compare to the late run fishery. In the 1940’s and 1950’s the es mate of the average win‐ ter run size for the Quillayute River system was about 17,600 wild fish (McMillan, 2006) . That average dropped to 14,300 fish in the 1980’s and then to about 10,700 fish during the last 5 years (WDFW run reconstruc on run data). We see this trend on all Olympic Peninsula West Side Rivers today. The Hoh River run, as example, has dropped from a 1950’s es mated range of 8,000 to 13,000 (McMillan, 2006) fish to only 2,900 the last 5 years. And due to aggressive harvest management, it has missed its escapement goal of 2,400 fish in 5 of the last 8 years. Whether this trend of declines will con nue is unknown but it’s a large risk to the sport and tribal fisheries and the economy of the Olympic Peninsula to ignore the present run condi ons. Increasing fishing pressure, hatchery im‐ pacts on wild fish produc vity and climate change indicate that wild fish will be much more stressed in the future than in the past. During the late 1990’s and early 2000’s NOAA listed four major steelhead areas (Dis nct Popula on Units, (DPS’s)) in Washington that were major watersheds to the Colum‐ bia River under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). At the same me, steelhead in Puget Sound were in steep decline but WDFW administrators were too complacent with the‐ se condi ons, always sta ng that the runs would soon improve following a change in ocean condi ons. Howev‐ er, these stocks con nued to decline and were ESA listed in May, 2007. Today the Puget Sound stocks con nue their declines at alarming rates that may preclude any chance of recovery in some rivers. The Puget Sound ESA Steelhead Lis ng and the condi on of those stocks should
Continued on page 15
WSC Provides Puget Sound Steelhead comments to NOAA By Chris Ringlee, V.P. of Conserva on
n March, The Wild Steelhead Coali on provided comments
“Once critical to the Na onal Oceanic and Atmospheric Administra on habitat is (NOAA) regarding Puget Sound Steelhead Cri cal habitat designated, designa on. Section 7 of the ESA requires The ESA defines cri cal habitat under sec on 3(5)(A) as: ‘‘(i) The specific areas within the geographical area occu‐ Federal agencies to pied by the species, at the me it is listed* * *, on which ensure they do not are found those physical or biological features (I) essen al fund, authorize, to the conserva on of the species and (II) which may re‐ or carry out any quire special management considera ons or protec on; actions that and (ii) specific areas outside the geographical area occu‐ will destroy or pied by the species at the me it is listed* * * upon a deter‐ adversely modify mina on by the Secretary [of Commerce] that such areas are essen al for the conserva on of the species.’’ that habitat.” Sec on 4(b)(2) of the ESA requires us to designate cri cal habitat for threatened and endangered species ‘‘on the basis of the best scien fic data available and a er taking into con‐ sidera on the economic impact, the impact on na onal secu‐ rity, and any other relevant impact, of specifying any par cu‐ lar area as cri cal habitat.’’ This sec on grants the Secretary of Commerce (Secretary) discre on to exclude any area from cri cal habitat if he determines ‘‘the benefits of such exclu‐ sion outweigh the benefits of specifying such area as part of the cri cal habitat.’’ The Secretary’s discre on is limited, as he may not exclude areas that ‘‘will result in the ex nc on of the species.’’ The lack of research on Puget Sound Steelhead and migra on should allow for a liberal approach to protec ng habitat since NOAA has acknowledged that the near shore migra on pa ern of Comparison of Areas Occupied by Puget Sound Steelhead versus Areas Occupied by Puget Sound Puget Sound steelhead is not well Chinook and Hood Canal Summer-run Chum understood, but it is generally thought that smolts move quickly Legend Puget Sound Chinook and Hood oﬀshore, bypassing the extended Canal Summer-run Chum-Occupied Areas Previously Assessed for estuary transi on stage which Designation as ESA Critical Puget Sound Steelhead-Occupied many other salmonids need (Har Areas Currently Under Consideraand Dell, 1986). NOAA also admits tion as ESA Critical Habitat. that Steelhead oceanic migra on pa erns are also poorly under‐ stood.
Areas of concern that WSC advises should be included in the Puget Sound Steelhead Cri cal Habitat.
Once cri cal habitat is designated, Sec on 7 of the ESA requires Fed‐ eral agencies to ensure they do not fund, authorize, or carry out any ac ons that will destroy or adversely modify that habitat. This requirement is in addi on to the Sec on 7 requirement that Feder‐ al agencies ensure their ac ons do not jeopardize the con nued existence of listed species.
The cri cal habitat for Puget Sound Steelhead will overlap with some of the already designated Puget Sound Chinook cri cal habitat. However, wild steelhead also use smaller tributaries and upper watershed areas for spawning and nursery habitat exclusive of Chinook salmon. The WSC hopes that Puget Sound Steelhead cri cal habitat
will be managed with recovery as the paramount emphasis for these ESA listed species. The WSC shared several areas of concern that should be included in the Puget Sound steelhead Cri cal Habitat. The areas for considera on include: The area south of the Snohomish River mouth to in‐ clude the en re eastern shore south to include the Mukilteo ferry terminal. This area should expand to Whidbey Island, as this area is a staging point for sum‐ mer steelhead entering and winter kelts leaving the Snohomish drainage. Commencement and Elliot Bays should be included as cri cal habitat as both are staging areas for Puyallup and Green River Steelhead. These areas are highly in‐ dustrialized, but must be included. Cri cal habitat in all rivers should be protected by standard flows for each season that meets the neces‐ sary standards for steelhead for all their riverine life history periods. Maintaining healthy Salmonid flows that corresponded with historical daily and seasonal natural flows instead of dam discharges crea ng flood and dewater issues nega vely impac ng cri cal habitat and its use by wild steelhead. The WSC also commented on the associated land prac ces near the cri cal habitat rivers and streams. While a cri cal habitat designa on may be placed on certain drainages, the corresponding development, logging, and other land use prac ces can s ll adversely aﬀect the cri cal habitat. NOAA should iden fy methods to stabilize areas prone to land slides, especially those that have or are prone to slide into the rivers and leave large amounts of debris and sedi‐ ment. These areas are o en associated with logging, roads, and other land prac ces that have cut the toe or other sec‐ ons of hillsides and also remove the natural holding struc‐ tures as tree roots. The WSC encouraged NOAA to look beyond the rivers and streams that both Chinook and Steelhead inhabit by incorpo‐ ra ng areas of cri cal habitat associated with water quality for now and the future. NOAA should look at historical river channels as most have been reduced to straighter channels that have higher veloci es and fewer pool and riﬄe areas. Rivers o en run straight towards the sea rather than follow their historical meandering characteris c and side channels, which is necessary for producing both spawning and rearing habitat. Another emphasis is looking at ways to improve nursery habitat through the addi on of large woody debris, large rocks and other substrates and obstruc ons that form the needed habitat for the various salmonid species. Preserving river corridors through reforesta on, habitat restora on, habitat preserva on and natural flood control will ensure quality habitat for the future and prevent cri cal habitat from further degrada on that will be impera ve in PS Steelhead long term run health. If Puget Sound steelhead are to truly recover, then any eco‐ nomic benefits should not stand in the way of cri cal habitat designa on.
Steelhead Death Toll on the Olympic Peninsula By Chris Ringlee, VP Conservation
s many anglers in Washington know, The Olympic Peninsula is the last remaining place in Washington where wild steelhead may be retained. Eight rivers con n‐ ue to allow one wild steelhead to be kept, but through the eﬀorts of the Wild Steelhead Coali on (WSC), the one‐fish retainment season has been shortened. The historical start date allowing anglers to keep one wild steelhead used to be December 1st, but is now February 16th. The season runs un l the middle or the end of April based, on WDFW regula ons. This regula on change eﬀec vely cut the season in half for wild steelhead reten on. The aver‐ Eight rivers age early component wild steelhead harvest from 2002‐ continue to 2010 was 183 fish. Three wild steelhead were illegally allow one wild harvested according to WDFW creel data. Allowing more early component wild steelhead to spawn will allow these steelhead to be kept, but early fish to recover.
the Quillayute system. The Hoh River Creel data is col‐ lected un l April 15. The WSC understands the creel sur‐ vey is not a comprehensive survey and is lacking data from anglers not surveyed. The extent to anglers not surveyed is unknown, but unfortunately this is the best available data regarding wild steelhead reten on and angling im‐ pacts on the Quillayute system un l September when the final numbers are available. The wild steelhead reten on season con nues un l April 30, 2011 and data a er March 31, 2011 is not included or collected. The Quillayute Steel‐ head Harvest Management plan lists the projected non‐ tribal sport harvest will be 435 wild steelhead from the Quillayute system. Catch and release mortality is assumed to be 10% of the released steelhead as per WDFW. The catch and release mortality percentage for wild steelhead has not been researched on the Qulliayute system and the WSC feels that 10% is an uncertain es mate un l research has been conducted. The final data for sport and tribal harvest will be available in September.
through the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) efforts of the conducts creel surveys on the Quillayute system and the Wild Steelhead Hoh river for wild steelhead caught, retained, and re‐ Coalition, leased, number of anglers, and angling eﬀort. This prelim‐ the one‐ ish inary data was collected from the WDFW Creel Surveys conducted from December 1, 2010 to March 31, 2011 for retainment season has been shortened. Quillayute System Data from WDFW Creel Surveys: 12/01/10 to 3/31/11 Wild Steelhead Retained C&R Mortality 10% Totals 62 39.8 101.8 Bogachiel 45 15.5 60.5 This regulation Calawah change effectively 84 132 216 Sol Duc cut the season in 191 187.3 378.3 half for wild Quillayute System steelhead retention.
Hoh River Data from WDFW Creel Surveys from 12/01/10 to 4/15/11
Wild Steelhead Retained 37
The creel checks are far from the total number of fish hooked, released, and kept because of the limited man‐ power. The checks generally happen in the lower por ons of the Quillayute System. At Leyendecker Park, where they can check the lower Bogachiel and the lower Sol Duc; or at the Wilson boat ramp, where again they can check the Bogachiel and the Calawah. Upper reaches of the rivers are not checked as frequently, but the majority of the wild steelhead reten on takes place in the lower reaches of the rivers, so the checks do encounter a higher percentage of the reten‐ on.
C&R Mortality 10% Total Impact 51
Photo by Mark Schmidt
Total* number of wild steelhead impacted on the Hoh River due to spor ishing during the winter season of 2010/11. (*Based upon WDFW creel survey data.)
This preliminary data was collected from the WDFW Creel Surveys conducted from December 1, 2010 to April 15, 2011. A total of 2030 anglers were surveyed on the Hoh River this season. The Wild Steelhead Coalition (WSC) understands the creel survey is not a comprehensive survey and is lacking data from anglers not surveyed. The Hoh River Steelhead Harvest Management plan lists the state’s sport harvest will be 452 wild steelhead from the Hoh River. However, this document, which sets the agreements for fishing seasons, allocations and other management actions, was not signed by the Hoh Tribe and WDFW, even after the season has closed. The WSC believes that these management plans must be signed before fishing to assure the fisheries are conducted within agreed to parameters. Catch and release mortality is assumed at this time to be 10% of the released steelhead based on several long studies conducted in British Columbia. However, the catch and release mortality percentage for wild steelhead has not been researched on west side Olympic Peninsula Rivers and the WSC feels that 10% is an uncertain estimate until studies on these rivers has been conducted. Also needed are studies of net drop-out, marine mammal take from the nets and the unrecorded harvests of both fisheries. The final data for sport and tribal harvest will be available this fall following the development of the draft management plans for 2011/13. Stay tuned.
Total* number of wild steelhead impacted on the Quillayute river system (Bogachiel, Calawah and Sol Duc) due to spor ishing during the winter season of 2010/11. (*Based upon WDFW creel survey data.)
This preliminary data was collected from the WDFW Creel Surveys conducted from December 1, 2010 to March 31, 2011. The Wild Steelhead Coalition (WSC) understands the creel survey is not a comprehensive survey and is lacking data from anglers not surveyed. The extent to anglers not surveyed is unknown, but unfortunately this is the best available data regarding wild steelhead retention and angling impacts on the Quillayute system. The wild steelhead retention season continues through April 30, 2011 and data after March 31 is not included or collected. The Quillayute Steelhead Harvest Management plan lists that the non-tribal sport harvest will be 435 steelhead from the Quillayute system. Catch and release mortality is assumed to be 10% of the released steelhead as per WDFW. The catch and release mortality percentage for wild steelhead has not been researched on the Quillayute system and the WSC feels that 10% is an uncertain estimate until research has been conducted. The final data for sport and tribal harvest will be available in September. Stay tuned.
Compara ve data showing the annual totals of all wild steelhead retained by spor ishers on the Quillayute river system from 2002‐ 2011. (According to WDFW creel surveys.)
The new WSC‐sponsored regula on delaying one‐fish reten on un l a er Feb. 15 was enacted for the 2010/2011 season.
The wild fish that would have previously been killed during this period are now able to migrate into the upper reaches of their rivers to spawn.
WSC Provides comment on Snohomish County Wild Steelhead Recovery Plan By Luke Kelly, WSC Habitat Specialist
n early June, 2011 the Wild Steelhead Coali on (WSC) sub‐ mi ed comments on Snohomish County’s Steelhead Founda‐ ons Project, which seeks to develop baseline informa on that would be used in recovery planning of the Snohomish River Basin’s wild steelhead.
The WSC appreciated the invita on from the WDFW to comment on this cri cal phase of Snohomish Basin wild steelhead recov‐ “WSC identi ied ery. In the prepara on of the WSC’s comments, WSC stakehold‐ several areas ers reviewed the Snohomish Basin Steelhead State of Knowledge where additional Report (2008), a Puget Sound Habitat Stressors Document, and a Snohomish Watershed Profiles document. Within these reports steelhead the WSC iden fied several areas where addi onal steelhead research and research and a be er understanding would greatly improve re‐ a better under‐ covery eﬀorts. In order to further develop baseline informa on standing would for Snohomish Steelhead, the WSC recommend the following:
greatly improve recovery efforts.” 1) As stated in the Puget Sound Habitat Stressors Document:
“steelhead life history can be viewed in 5 discrete stages 1) Adult Migra on, 2) Spawning, 3) Incuba on and emergence, 4) Juvenile Rearing, and 5) Juvenile Migra on”. The WSC strong‐ ly suggested including resident rainbow trout as a 6th stage in steelhead life history. Thanks to significant research and over‐ whelming evidence, it is now clear that resident rainbow trout are a cri cal aspect in maintaining diverse life histories in sus‐ tainable, wild steelhead popula ons. The WSC feels that resi‐ dent rainbow trout need to be included in this developing plan, and their study and protec on is crucial to the recovery of wild steelhead of the Snohomish Basin.
2) There is li le data and informa on available regarding the incuba on and emergence of steelhead in the Snohomish Basin. The WSC highly suggested that more data be collected regarding this vulnerable stage and limi ng factors iden fied. 3)The WSC believes there needs to be significant studies relat‐ ed to steelhead habitats in the basin. 3a) “Li le informa on is available on quality and quan ty of rearing habitats in the basin”, as noted in the Snohomish “WCS feels Basin Steelhead State of Knowledge Report (sec on 3.4, that resident page 24). It is known that there has been significant loss of rainbow trout rearing habitat within the basin, and gaining a be er under‐ need to be standing via increased rearing habitat data would help iden‐ included in this fy high priority areas for protec on and others for restora‐ on. developing plan,
and their study and protection is crucial to the recovery of wild steelhead of the Snohomish Basin.”
3b) The State of Knowledge Report states: “Ecosystems, Diagnos c and Treatment (EDT) reaches have been estab‐ lished in the basin for assessing other species (Mobrand Biometrics 2002), but no eﬀort has been extended to es ‐ mate their rela ve value for steelhead trout rearing capaci‐ ty or produc vity”. While some of these ra ngs are based on specific data, others are based on similar condi ons and subjec ve opinions. The WSC believes that this lack of data along with the fact that the available data pertains to other species should be a major concern during this planning process. The WSC agrees that “The level 2 EDT ra ngs for each reach could be used in the future as a rank measure of importance for steelhead rearing”, however the WSC feels these ra ngs would be based on a lack of data related spe‐ cifically to steelhead.
3c) In whatever form, the WSC strongly recommended further detailed studies related to wild steelhead rearing habitats in the basin. Suggested elements of study, protec‐ on and/or restora on to promote quality rearing habitat included: stream gradients between 1‐5%, hydrologically
connected side channels, intact riparian areas providing suﬃcient buﬀers, stream temperatures promo ng produc‐ on‐growth‐smol fica on (temperatures below 15oC), the presence of Large Woody Debris (including recruitment poten al), suﬃcient pool and run habitats (rather than riﬄe and glide), and proximity to high‐use spawning areas. Fur‐ ther studies related to these rearing habitat elements will iden fy limi ng factors for wild steelhead produc on in the basin and aid in habitat restora on, management and recovery. 4) The WSC believes gene cs studies are needed to further iden ‐ fy and understand na ve winter stocks in the Snohomish, Sky‐ komish, Snoqualmie, and Pilchuck Rivers. A be er understand‐ ing of gene cs will further iden fy individual stocks, iden fy the rate of introgression in each stock, and help iden fy hatch‐ eries that are in need of closure to aid recovery and wild steel‐ head management. 5) The WSC also believes there is a need for more detailed data as to the historical abundance, run ming, escapement, spawn ming, and cri cal spawning areas for both wild summer steel‐ head and the early and late wild winter steelhead within the basin. The WSC suggested this informa on be researched from historical data in terms of the Viable Salmonid Popula on char‐ acteris cs (VSP’s) for each river drainage. Per drainage suggest‐ ed studies include: North Fork Skykomish River: Need escapement data for wild summer steelhead (cri cal). Need spawn ming data for wild summer stock upstream of Bear Falls South Fork Skykomish River: Need spawn ming data for wild summer steelhead in Money Creek (tributary upstream of Sunset Falls) Tolt River: Need to develop more detailed data on historical abundance, run ming, spawn ming, and size distribu on Pilchuck River: We suggest further data collec on and monitor‐ ing related to this wild winter stock. Iden fy limi ng factors and develop further protec on of this stock as it is unique in the watershed (spends three years at sea rather than two, and has limited interac on with hatchery steelhead) A lot of informa on has already been compiled regarding the wild steelhead of the Snohomish Basin, and the WSC commends the WDFW and all of the other stakeholders and organiza ons who have contributed to this wealth of knowledge. As further studies and management plans develop, the WSC reiterates the need to protect and restore the wild steelhead stocks and minimize their interac on with hatchery steelhead. The WSC looks forward to contribu ng further in the collabora ve eﬀort to restore wild steelhead popula ons in the Snohomish River Basin. With further study will come a be er understanding of these impressive wild steelhead popula ons, and integra ng this knowledge with adap ve management prac ces will promote recovery and healthy runs for genera ons to come.
Wild Steelhead Coalition Member Pro ile: Jeff Bright Jeﬀ Bright is a San Francisco based photographer, writer, graphic designer, travel host and steelhead advocate. He began fishing the steelhead rivers of Northern California in 1993, a er moving to the west coast from Ohio. Jeﬀ’s website describes him as a steelhead flyfisher commi ed to the celebra on, pursuit and conserva on of the sea‐run rainbow trout , where ever it swims. As a supporter of the Wild Steelhead Coali on, we caught up with Jeﬀ to ask a few ques ons about his aﬀec on for these fish.
WSC: Why do you love wild steelhead? J.B.: I’ve devoted the be er part of the last two decades chasing an answer to that ques on, and I haven’t nailed it down yet. Honestly, I’m not sure I want to! Like the fish themselves, a dy, concise reply is pre y slippery. And if I could corral the no on into a few sentences it would sadly feel something like an end to the chase. But I know you didn’t ask just so I could be obtuse…
On a personal and emo onal level, I suppose I love wild steelhead because of the memorable and defining experi‐ ences I’ve had in fishing for them. They’ve surprised, chal‐ lenged and inspired me and — this may sound hokey or even self‐indulgent — they’ve given me path for living, a way to perceive the world and existence, a par cular philosophy rooted in what I would call “natural truth.” They’ve given me an iden ty. At this point, fishing for, wri ng about, and photographing wild steelhead and their freshwater homes have become central to my life. It’d be hard to separate any one from the other or me from wild steelhead angling and advocacy, in both physical and intellectual terms.
“Iron and Steel”
I could talk about why I’m a racted to wild steelhead — their beauty, their compelling life history, their value as a sport fish, their cultural value, their symbolic stature, their poe c quali es, that they humor me by ea ng the ridicu‐ lous flies I’ve ed, that they pull hard and jump high, that they give me a thrill worth a million ecsta c words when I have one on the line — but in my es ma on that would‐ n’t really address the no on of “love.” I love wild steel‐ head because, just by being what they are, they make my life richer and encourage in me feelings of gra tude, awe and wonder. And I wouldn’t want to be without those feelings. WSC: As an artist, how do you capture the mysteri‐ ous emotional appeal of wild steelhead in your words and images?
“The Perfect Trout”
J.B.: If you’re saying I do capture that mysterious emo onal appeal in my work, thank you very much! It’s definitely where I’m aiming. In both wri ng and photography, I try to present the experiences I’ve had as I felt them, rather than with a jour‐ nalist’s objec vity. I feel they are poe c experiences and I want to relay them as such. So, I do try to charge my works, even formal river scenes, with a certain degree of emo on. Whether or not the reader
or viewer picks up on it as I intended is fairly personal, I suspect. How this gets done begs another slippery reply. It starts, I think, with being there in the moment, in the presence of this thing that’s hard to describe and being open to the experience, soaking it in and seeing aspects of the experi‐ ence that symbolize or embody the mys que. And I would put heavy emphasis on the word seeing. Some days I’m photographing and not seeing, and some days I’m seeing endless natural arrangements and composi ons, all full of energy and ideas. The ques on is: Does the mystery and this energy exist outside of me, independent of me, or is it inside of me? Is it always out there wai ng for us, or do we project it? Either way, in order to capture the mo‐ ments that hold this appeal, when you’re out there on the water, you have to be looking for that appeal and you have to want to see it. It’s not unlike swinging flies for winter steelhead. You have to really want what some‐ mes seems so unlikely, even supernatural, to happen. It’s probably also like seeing UFO’s; you have to be predis‐ posed to seeing “phenomena.” (Not that I’ve seen one!) If you’re skep cal, and not open to the mystery and magic, there’s no way you can capture either in a photograph or paragraph. More prac cally…in photography, the fish and the se ngs are already exquisite. So if I don’t somehow get in the way by over thinking, or commit an error in using my equip‐ ment, the subjects will do most of the work. They’ll make the image compelling. Of course, on a technical or process level there are digital developing and prin ng techniques that help to convey what I’m a er, just like with any other visual medium. These skills can be honed and discovered with instruc on and prac ce and experimenta on. WSC: As a steelhead photographer, how do you take photos and handle wild steelhead carefully at the same time? J.B.: When photographing a steelhead, or taking “portraits” as I like to call them, the well‐being of the fish is always the primary concern. On many occasions I’ve landed a good fish or been with a friend or guest and we’ve brought a beau ful steelhead to hand, but the situa on was not conducive to ge ng a good photo with‐ out stressing the fish, or the fish would not cooperate. In those instances, you have to forget the camera and do the right thing — a quick release. So, it’s important to note that, if you take on the task ethically, you’re not always going to get a photo. But when a steelhead is landed and there is suﬃcient water to safely tail the fish with its head submerged, the
Jeff Bright Interview Continued from page 12 key is to calm the fish before reaching for the camera. One trick that I’ll o en use to buy an extra 10 seconds or more is to thoroughly wet my hand and, as the fish is lying on its side, cup that hand over the fish’s eye for a few seconds. Not always, but o en the fish will quiet down then lie completely s ll, allowing you to relinquish your grasp on its tail wrist and quickly take a number of shots from vari‐ ous angles. Once the fish starts moving again, typically li ing its tail or head, that’s my signal to stop photo‐ graphing, move the fish to slightly deeper water and turn it upright, at which point it’s usually ready to go and ex‐ acts a measure of revenge by soaking me with a quick slap of its tail as it bolts away. Fair enough!
“Dean River Dream”
When you’re with a friend, or par cularly a guide prac‐ ced in fish handling, this all becomes much easier and photos can be taken very quickly in the general course of hand‐tailing, hook removal, revival and release, without employing the “blackout” technique. Of course, it doesn’t always go as planned. These are wild
This photo was animals. They wiggle and flop. They were not ergonomi‐ cally designed so we could grip and maneuver them like recently featured on kitchen tools. When chaos ensues, stay calm. If you re‐ the WSC’s 2011 member the following guidelines, chances are your photo membership drive session will go smoothly enough for you to get a reasona‐ postcard. Jeff is ble number of frames and your steelhead will be none the donating 10% of worse for having obliged. all sales of this When photographing your steelhead, always respect the print to the WSC. fish as much as you can. Remember it doesn’t breathe air; keep its gills in contact with water, preferably gently flow‐ ing. Never drag it up on the rocks and let it flop around. Never hold it up with your finger in its gills. As a rule, avoid touching the gills completely. Never hold it by the tail dangling ver cally out of the water, regardless of how many photos of dead Atlan c salmon you see held this way. Always wet your hands thoroughly before touching or tailing the fish. Handle it firmly, but don’t mangle or crush it. If your steelhead is too wild to hold, that’s a good thing! Remove your barbless hook as quickly as you can and let it go. WSC: You are involved with a number of steel‐ head conservation and advocacy groups. What are some of the most critical challenges AND achievements regarding wild steelhead recov‐ ery at this time? J.B.: By and large I think steelhead conserva on groups up and down the coast have done a wonder‐ ful job of iden fying the causes of wild steelhead loss. And a lot of very commi ed, intelligent people are involved in thinking about ways to stop wild steelhead from disappearing and ways to bring www.je right.com them back where we can. The plans, ideas, passion “A Beauty Beyond Words” and science are all there on the table. What we most dearly need is the poli cal and cultural will to change. The enormous challenge is to put the brakes on the iner a of European‐American history and the industrial revolu‐ on. We think of ourselves as “se lers,” in love with
wherever we call home. But in actuality, in the historic view, we are nomadic. We use up the resources then move on. Boom and bust. In order for wild steelhead to recover this has to stop. We have to decide, on a cultural level that this place really is our home and then start ac ng like we want to live here forever, not just un l we’ve extracted all we can. This is something that will have to be pulled out by the roots from our DNA. To do this we have to decide that wild steelhead and wild plac‐ es have a value beyond the market place. We have to give them a cultural value, consider them part of our Cascadian iden ty. That’s a very steep hill to climb and a fairly esoteric challenge to tackle, but as part of the over‐ all eﬀort, I think it has to be addressed. Just as important, though, is the work on the ground. As long as we — I mean the collec ve we — interact with watersheds, we’ll have to balance regula on and devel‐ opment. We’ll have to manage that interac on and it will require eternal vigilance. It seems we’ve finally become enlightened about dams and the damage they’ve done to sea‐run fish in the Northwest, at least in parts of Washington and Oregon. I think removal of the Klamath dams represent the next big step in that regard, and Snake River dam breaching or removal represents the Holiest Grail. Because of the momentum in that direc on, not only in the Pacific Northwest but across the na on, I think we might actual‐ ly get there. Bringing down the Elwha is very exci ng and very encouraging! Kudos to everyone who worked on that project. In the US, what I’m really concerned with presently is gene c pollu on from hatcheries. The science is finally coming out to show just how damaging hatchery produc‐ on is to wild steelhead. At the top of the cri cal list has to be a sustained eﬀort to take hatcheries out of any watershed to be managed, or maybe I should say “un‐ managed,” as a wild‐steelhead watershed. We have to stop meddling and respect the natural process. We know steelhead are resilient and adaptable. And we know if we give them spawning habitat, rearing habitat and natural cold, clean flows — then leave them alone — they will establish a viable popula on with diverse life histories suited to finding adap ve advantages and popula on safeguards fi ng the watershed. And we know they can do this rela vely fast in evolu onary terms. In Bri sh Columbia, our last great sanctuary for wild steelhead, development looms ever larger on the hori‐ zon. Coal‐bed methane extrac on, tar sands and natural gas pipelines from Alberta to the coast and associated tanker traﬃc, mining, and maybe the most insidious no on, priva za on and sale of fresh water, all threaten the existence of what are now the most iconic steelhead on the planet. But these are just the challenges on land. What happens in the ocean — where a steelhead may spend the majori‐ ty of its life — is s ll a puzzle and there are, I’m sure, factors at play that we don’t have a handle on or perhaps don’t even know exist. Do we even know the extent of the threats they face in their saltwater phase beyond preda on and prey abundance deficits? Are they being incidentally or specifically harvested on the high seas? And what about climate change eﬀects? I don’t think we strong answers. So, we need to keep exploring the ocean
Jeff Bright Interview Continued from page 13
and gathering informa on while we protect watersheds on the con nent and let the steelhead take care of their own spawning and rearing where we can.
nizing they s ll had something to save, but seeing it begin‐ ning to slip away. I sent a check and note saying I could help with photographs, design services and the like.
WSC: What can the average individual do to aid in steelhead recovery?
But, I’ll be honest; there was also a selfish mo ve for ge ng involved. I also thought if I connected with the WSC, I might eventually make it up to Washington and finally cast a fly those great rivers! I’m happy to say it’s worked out pre y well in that regard! I’ve met some won‐ derful folks in the Coali on and have developed a number of cherished friendships. Now, if we can just get more fish returning, I may have the opportunity to photograph and maybe even catch a few more of Washington’s famous state fish.
“Steelhead & Willow Roots” This photo from the Trinity River is used as the logo for WSC’s Steelhead Summit Alliance (SSA).
J.B.: A lot. Start by going fishing as much as you can! Develop a deep and abiding love for wild steelhead and their rivers. If you had it and lost it, get it back. Even if the rivers you used to fish are closed or have shrunken runs, get out there. Find new water. Travel. The key is to stoke your passion. Simultaneously, join a conserva on group at the highest level you can and get in‐ volved on whatever level you can, even if that means only a ending the social func ons. Community is cri cal.
Photos wanted for new website by Jonathan Stumpf, V.P. Communications
Then, start reading. Become informed. Ask ques ons. Soon, you’ll be armed with informa on that will help you make consumer and poli cal choices. Remember that, throughout the steelhead’s range, wherever you live, you live in a watershed, and your ac ons and habits have some eﬀect on the health of that watershed. We all want to simplify and vilify; we want to pinpoint one hideous monster and say it was responsible for the loss of our precious steelhead. But steelhead, in most instances, either have or are suﬀering the “death of a thousand small cuts.” It makes sense to me, if we pay a en on to the impact of our ac ons and choices on our watershed, we may be able to reverse the momentum and begin the process of healing with a thousand small cures.
ur design team over at Natasha Dworkin Communi‐ ca ons is hard at work ge ng our new website developed and ready for beta‐tes ng. While we had hoped our go‐ live date would be this spring, we're taking extra special care with the final product, so right now we're hoping some me in mid‐July. Stay tuned and thanks for your pa ence…
Again, we have to start ac ng like this is our home and we want to live here forever, and that’s something that the average individual, even a someone who’s not a steelhead angler can do to help.
Here's what we need:
WSC: What attracted you to support the Wild Steelhead Coalition? J.B.: When I was just star ng on this path I read just about anything I could get my hands on that had the word “steelhead” in it. I had been dreaming about fishing the See more of Skagit/Sauk, the S lliguamish, the rivers on the OP. I want‐ Jeff’s photos ed to experience these waters that had played such im‐ portant roles in the history and lore of steelhead fly fish‐ and other work at ing. I ran across the Coali on’s webpage, an early version, and read about their concerns and eﬀorts. Living in North‐ www.jef bright.com ern California and reading the local angling literature, I knew about the loss of steelhead; the Klamath, Eel and Russian rivers, are now just geographical placeholders for once‐great runs. As I learned what was lost from those rivers, a feeling of despair, anger and frustra on set up camp in my psyche and has never really le . I felt cheated and to some degree s ll do. I was empathe c with the Coali on. I understood their posi on. I saw them as recog‐
That being said, one project we need your help with: photos for our new website. If you have what might be website‐worthy pictures that you'd like to submit, we'd love to use them and will give due credit if we do. Depending on where and how many we use, we might even find some WSC swag to send your way.
Landscapes/riverscapes from WA, ID, OR, CA or BC...the natural environment of wild steelhead Steelhead in the water (not with flies or hooks in their mouths, but preferably underwater) and no grip‐and‐ grin shots You outside doing steelhead‐related stuﬀ beyond fishing. Do you help with spawning surveys or monitor‐ ing? Have you done any habitat restora on work? Do you have pictures from a recent WSC event? Do you have pictures of people enjoying the steelhead environ‐ ment? Extra special points for photos that include women and those that show a wide diversity of age and/or race Please send your photos to: vp‐cmmunica ons@wildsteelheadcoali on.org. If we like them, we'll get in touch with more details. Thanks for all the support so far and we look forward to the submissions!
Membership Corner By Jim Schmitz, VP Membership
The winner of the 2011 Membership drive raf le for a new Sage spey rod is Brad Staples.
e would like to thank all of you who participated in this year’s membership drive. It is always nice to see the support and dedica on from our members.
The membership renewal is a very important piece to the success of the organiza on. 100% of the dues raised are used to help wild fish. The membership list has now reached over 500 individuals, companies and partnering non‐profits. Our goal was to get at least a 50% renewal rate this year and we s ll have a ways to go. Please take the me to support the WSC is you have not al‐ ready renewed for 2011. This year’s raﬄe winner was Brad Staples from Portland, Oregon. Brad won a Sage Z‐Axis spey rod and hopefully will enjoy it this fall chasing steelhead on the Deschutes. We really appreciate all of you who put your name in the hat and will con nue represen ng the fish you love most.
enefits of volunteering with WSC:
The chance to help increase wild steelhead runs Work with like‐minded people Be in the know on steelhead issues
WSC Seeking Membership Volunteer: The Wild Steelhead Coali on is looking for a volunteer to help the organiza on with its general membership man‐ agement. This task would involve around two hours of me per week. Our previous membership coordinator is shi ing his responsibili es to another area within the organiza on. The overall responsibili es of this volunteer posi on are listed below:
Look over, update and keep membership file orga‐ nized. (around 500 contacts)
Keep a tally on new memberships and renewals. Send thank you le ers/emails to donors and mem‐ bers.
Run annual membership drive (January through December membership period)
Send tax forms to members/donors for any money sent to the organiza on.
Field emails and keep up with incoming mail as many members send in their dona ons.
Fly Tying Desk Raf le
any thanks to WSC member Steve Berns of Renton, WA for dona ng this custom‐built fly‐tying desk for our summer raﬄe. Berns constructed this six‐drawer foldaway desk from red oak and is thrilled to be helping out wild steelhead. "I joined the group in 2000 but other than dues I haven’t been able to help WSC," said Berns in an email. "I’m hoping this table can raise some money for the cause." We're stoked‐‐and so are the steelhead‐‐to have someone like Berns in our cor‐ ner.
So here's the deal for the raﬄe. Tickets are $20 each and we have limited the number of ckets being sold to 100. The desk is on display at the Gig Harbor Fly Shop (more great supporters of our cause) and they are handling the cket sales. So stop in their shop, load up on your summer steelhead gear, ogle over the desk, and buy some ckets. They'll definitely sell‐out fast. www.gigharborflyshop.com Again, a huge thank you to Steve Berns for building and do‐ na ng the desk and many thanks to the Gig Harbor Fly Shop for the valuable real estate.
The WSC is in the process of changing over to a Salsa cus‐ tomer rela onship management (CRM) pla orm for all management of the member/donor records which will integrate and streamline the management process. This is a wonderful opportunity for someone to get involved with the organiza on and help us as we grow. Please contact Jim Schmitz to inquire about this volunteer posi on. (vp‐membership@wildsteelheadcoali on.com or call 253‐ 606‐0495)
Document Editor Volunteer Needed: The WSC is seeking an individual to edit documents (Le ers, certain email correspondence, research papers, etc.) that the organiza on produces in the course of its ac vi es. This would include checking the documents for spelling, grammar and readability and making comments and changes that improve the presenta on of the docu‐ ment while maintaining its original intent. The volunteer is not responsible for wri ng the documents, just edi ng them. No a endance or travel to any mee ngs is required as all the work can be done via email with various mem‐ bers of the Board of Directors who dra these documents. The me commitment is small, but at mes may be me sensi ve due to cri cal deadlines. A basic understanding of steelhead conserva on issues would be helpful in this posi on. Please email Treasurer@wildsteelheadcoali on.org if you are interested or need further informa on.
Guest Review of Dave P lug’s presentation at the WSC Spring Membership Meeting on May 4, 2011: “Impacts of Hatchery Steelhead on Wild Steelhead in the Skagit Watershed” By Ted McDermott, WSC Member
s a migrant to the Northwest in 2006, I arrived just in me to fish the last few spring steelhead seasons on the fa‐ bled Skagit and Sauk Rivers. New to the area, I had only heard myths about steelhead on the fly, but it sounded like some‐ thing I was going to eat up fairly quickly. A young, unassum‐ “These days, ing fishing guide, my brain became filled with only one thing: instead of ishing wild steelhead on a swung fly. It’s an obsession that many 20‐ and guiding for something anglers are defined by, as I was, up there in the steelhead in North Cascades only a few short years ago. I remember March and April, sleeping in the bed of the truck, camping in the rain, ea ng I spend more of le overs for days on end, cowboy coﬀee and a love aﬀair with my time thinking a trusty two‐hander. I channeled the teachings of Haig‐ about ways to Brown, Hogan and Combs, I lived by the rise and fall of the conserve and river and I used all of my consciousness to improve my chanc‐ es of hooking a fish that I was told would change my life. It restore steelhead did, and I am in debt to those valleys for what they taught me populations in about fishing, life and nature.
the Northwest, particularly those Pre y soon, my cast improved, my tac cs were more sound of Puget Sound. and I didn’t have to search quite as hard for good steelhead
holding water. In the years a er my neophyte days, I began to guide for steelhead up there on the Skagit and Sauk. What That is exactly started as a curious endeavor quickly became a job. It seems I why I found had come too late though, and there was more concern for myself at a talk the fishery than there was a celebra on of its greatness. A er put on by the the closures to the Puget Sound rivers in 2010, I have been longing for misty March and April mornings in pursuit of Wild Steelhead Coalition a few chrome somewhere near the junc on of Highways 20 and weeks ago.” 530. My days of steelhead obsession are not nearly over, yet they have certainly taken new form. I spend many fewer nights riverside in the winter and spring. These days, instead of fishing and guiding for steelhead in March and April, I spend more of my me thinking about ways to conserve and restore steelhead popula ons in the Northwest, par cularly those of Puget Sound. That is exactly why I found myself at a talk put on by the Wild Steelhead Coali on a few weeks ago.
The WSC Program on May 4th Dave Pflug is the senior fisheries biolo‐ gist with Sea le City Light and is cur‐ rently conduc ng a study tagging both hatchery and na ve steelhead in the Skagit watershed. The tle of the event, “Impacts of Hatchery Steelhead
on Wild Steelhead in the Skagit Water‐ shed,” had the steelhead community concerned yet intrigued. To date, his research is preliminary and is in no way final, but the talk provided significant insight into what the future holds for wild fish in the Skagit watershed. In addi on, any hypotheses or predic ons are based oﬀ of this preliminary research are his own opinion and not necessarily that of his staﬀ. The study is ongoing, so the analysis of cur‐ rent data remains incomplete and new data is s ll forthcom‐ ing. These are the beginnings of what could be some power‐
ful science in the fight to preserve and rejuvenate wild steelhead. The big ques on that everyone came to hear the answer to is this: Is the Marblemount Hatchery contribu ng to the demise of our large na ve winter run of steelhead? And if so, how big of a part of the problem is the hatch‐ ery program? That is nearly impossible to quan fy be‐ cause the hatchery and na ve fish interact with each other in a number of diﬀerent ways throughout the life cycle. Throughout his talk, Pflug tracks the journeys of both na ve and hatchery fish from the spawning grounds to the Straits of Juan de Fuca and back up the river using radio telemetry sensors. He spoke about migra on habit diﬀerences between hatchery and na ve fish, but the most telling data was that derived from freshwater inter‐ ac on between the two strains of steelhead, both has juveniles and adults.
Hatchery Impact on Native Juveniles The hatchery program can influence the na ve fishery in the juvenile stage though habitat compe on, food com‐ pe on, and some even think the hatchery smolt prey upon the na ve yearlings themselves. As part of the study, the predatory habits of juvenile steelhead were examined. Pflug sampled the stomachs of 50 hatchery smolt each of the last two years and has concluded that they most likely do not directly feed upon wild smolt or pre‐smolt. Great news, but what about out‐compe ng them for the same meals? Pflug says that yes, they do compete for similar nutrients and the hatchery smolt learn to hunt in the wild fairly quickly upon release. But how harmful is the compe on to wild steelhead? “The answer to this is way beyond the scope of this study,” Pflug said. Howev‐ er, we can speculate that there is a nega ve impact even without quan fiable evidence from the study. But it is merely specula on. As a quarter million Chambers Creek smolt are released from Marblemount in a single day each spring, I think it is safe to assume (unless there is an absolutely unlimited amount of food in the Skagit) the post‐release onslaught by the hatchery smolt possibly leads to wild fish with less food than they normally would have. Nevertheless, there is nothing now that supplies concrete scien fic evidence that the food compe on in juveniles is harmful to na ve fish in the Skagit. And we do know that those na ve fish are resilient, even at smolt size.
Hatchery Impact on Native Adults As adults, perhaps the greatest concern is whether or not the hatchery fish interbreed with the na ves on their home spawning beds. The rela onship between hatch‐ ery and na ve fish is noteworthy throughout their life cycle, yet the gene c implica ons seem to be what most are interested in hearing about. In other words: Are we
losing the DNA that created those powerful, broad shoul‐ dered, beastly specimens that uniquely exist in the Sauk‐ Skagit system? First oﬀ, is there interbreeding? Pflug did answer that one ques on without any doubt, if for no other reason than the crowd basically forcing him to before he proceeded with his program. He responded an empha c “yes,” there are hatch‐ ery fish on the redds with na ve steelhead. So there you have it: certainly traces of Chambers Creek genes in the Currently, DNA of na ve fish in the Skagit and Sauk.
the level of Chambers Pflug says that the level of introgression is at an 11 percent average for the fish he sampled, but the more important Creek genes in thing to note is the trend over me of this introgression. the DNA of “First, the op mal outcome would be for no introgression. native ish in the Skagit That is the goal of Chambers based hatchery programs; all hatchery fish either caught or return to hatchery,” he says. and Sauk Unfortunately, reality is what we are facing instead of these is 11 %. “goals.” Referencing a forty year old piece of data (gene c samples taken from Skagit wild fish in 1973) yet to be analyzed, Pflug said that “From a more realis c standpoint it would be best to see the same level of introgression from the 1973 fish; i.e. a low level that remains low over me.” If the gene c data from 1973 shows a similar percentage of introgression to the present me, then we can assume that there is an im‐ pact gene cally but it is small and slowly or not increasing at all. However, Pflug points out that, “An alternate outcome may be that the level of introgression has doubled since ‘73; from say 5 to 11 percent. This result would lead to at least two further ques ons. At what point does this become harmful and what ac ons can be taken to reverse the in‐ creasing trend? To reverse such a trend it would be neces‐ sary to reduce or eliminate hatchery smolt releases.”
“37% of steelhead So, when this 1973 data is released we will certainly have an interes ng situa on on our hands. Part of me wants the juveniles are trend to turn out to be increasing from 1973 un l now. This eaten by might be a smoking gun and lead to much more restricted bull trout in hatchery management and quite possibly the closure of a the Skagit.” few of them. But if the trend is even since 1973, and stays
“CHROME” ‐ Photo by Ted McDermo
even as we go into the future, then everyone stays happy. There are hatchery fish for harvest in the system with a certain impact on the na ve fish, but albeit a minimal one. Pflug made it clear that there is nothing more per nent to the study than “the level and trend of introgression.” With that said, I am eagerly awai ng the results from the 1973
analysis. The metable for that analysis to be completed is unknown at this point, but it seems that when it comes out we will have a be er idea of what the future of Skagit‐ Sauk wild steelhead looks like with regard to hatchery impact.
Predatory Bull Trout Dave Pflug le us with an perplexing sta s c: 37% of steelhead juveniles are eaten by bull trout in the Skagit. He says that the bulls o en dig with their large jaws un‐ derground to find steelhead eggs and hatchlings. Further‐ more, steelhead seem to rear on the exact same type of water that bull trout are comfortable living and feeding in, whereas chinook and coho seem to be in a wholly diﬀer‐ ent current and depth. Pflug states that “Because their habitats overlap preda on levels vary with the density of bull trout. The more bull trout the more preda on. Be‐ cause coho and chinook don't frequent bull trout habitat they are not preyed upon at high levels. Bull trout densi‐ es are currently high. Over me they tend to vary great‐ ly. When low, steelhead juveniles fair be er.” Since the closure of the spring season on the Skagit a few years back, I’ve grown to love the bull trout and dolly varden fishery in the river. I fish and guide it when I can during the months of December‐February. We swing for the fish with smaller steelhead pa erns or smolt imita‐ ons using 10’6” to 12’6” 4‐6weight switch rods, and both Skagit and Scandi heads. We can usually get away with li le or no sink p or weight on the flies, making the fish‐ ery an absolute blast. Ini ally I was thinking that somewhere down the line we’d have to sacrifice one fish on the brink for another, but it’s not that bleak. It’s clear that the Skagit was designed to let the bull trout and steelhead exist at equilibrium and adapt to varying popula ons of each species from decade to decade. But when we as humans get involved the equi‐ librium starts to shi . Let’s get it back before it’s too late. If were to ever come down to us choosing one species over another, in my opinion it is already too late. Hopeful‐ ly Pflug’s research has already go en us one step closer to equilibrium in the Skagit, but there’s s ll a long way to go and some mysteries yet to be solved. Time will be the judge of that. We may not have enough me‐‐especially if the bull trout have anything to say about it.
Editor’s Note: Ted McDermo is a fly fishing guide with Emerald Water Anglers and a member of the WSC. The “Adipose” volunteers invited him to write a review of the May WSC mee ng presenta on to share with our membership and readers.
“EARLY” ‐ Photo by Ted McDermo
Guest Review Continued from page 17
WDFW Commission Requests Presentation from WDFW Staff regarding Coastal Steelhead
By Marianne Mitchell
Wild Salmonid A
t the end of its June 4th mee ng in Olympia, Commission‐ er David Jennings proposed, and the Commission approved, a Management Commission Request to the WDFW staﬀ for a presenta on on Areas (WSMA’s) the status of costal steelhead vis‐à‐vis the Statewide Steel‐ are essentially head Management Plan (SSMP). Commissioner Jennings “hatchery ish amended his original Request to the staﬀ to ask them to spe‐ free” zones. cifically address the status of the crea on of Wild Salmonid Management areas and Commissioner Rolland Schmi en further amended the Request to ask the staﬀ to address IHNv disease issues. One of the principal pla orms of the SSMP as it was adopted in May 2008 was the crea on of Wild Salmonid Management Areas (WSMA’s) on Washington State rivers. WSMA’s are “The IHNv virus ... essen ally “hatchery fish free” zones that rely on an ecosys‐ is now spreading tem approach to the recovery of steelhead and other na ve to coastal rivers. fish in their natural environment. The Steelhead Summit Alliance (SSA) held a Summit in November 2008 devoted to It is propagated this subject.
by poor hatchery management Then in May 2009, the SSA collec vely, and the Wild Steel‐ practices head Coali on, the Wild Fish Conservancy, the Steelhead and must Commi ee of the FFF and the Washington Council of Trout be stopped.” Unlimited, submi ed a proposal to the WDFW staﬀ, as part of the major rules cycle that year, to establish WSMA’s on just under twenty river reaches throughout the State. This pro‐
posal was rejected out‐of‐hand by the WDFW staﬀ and was not submi ed to the Commissioners for further con‐ sidera on. At the June 4th Commission mee ng, we re‐ quested a comprehensive report from WDFW staﬀ on the status of the implementa on of the WSMA policy. This request is reflected in the first amendment of the Jen‐ ning’s Commission Request. SSA members have also been concerned over a number of years about the growing prevalence of IHNv disease in coastal river steelhead since its earliest known outbreak there in 1997. This virus has existed in epidemic propor‐ ons for many years in Columbia River steelhead and is now spreading to coastal rivers. It is propagated by poor hatchery management prac ces and must be stopped. This was the subject of the Summit in March 2010 and our concerns have been repeatedly conveyed to the WDFW staﬀ and the Commissioners. These concerns are also reflected in the Schmi en amendment to the Commission Request. The WDFW staﬀ presenta on that results from this Com‐ mission Request will be on an upcoming Commission agenda for one of their scheduled mee ngs. We encour‐ age as many steelhead advocates as possible to a end the mee ng to learn more about the WDFW staﬀ re‐ sponse to these issues and to show their support for steel‐ head conserva on. We will let you know when the mee ng is scheduled so you may plan to a end.
Snider Creek Hatchery by Dick Burge Continued from page 3 prompt us to ini ate improved fisheries management on the Olympic Peninsula of all the Viable Salmonid Popula on (VSP) parameters, be much more conserva ve with hatchery opera‐ ons that impact the VSP’s and consider wild stock conserva‐ on and rebuilding on all rivers as paramount to future fisher‐ ies.
“One of the major reasons One of the major reasons for steelhead declines on the coast for steelhead (as well as many other rivers in Washington) is the loss of the early run (December and January) which once was a major declines on the component of the winter total run (see the Annotated Bibliog‐ coast ...is the raphy on pages 22‐23 for references). Historical records of loss of the early both sport and tribal fisheries from the 1940’s and 1950’s run (December show that the historical early run was as large as or even larg‐ and January) er than the late runs (WDG, 1956. 1957). We will never know which once the exact percentage or size of the early run as there were diﬀerent fishing seasons, varia ons in fishing eﬀort and other was a major factors that controlled the seasonal harvests; and the exis ng component es mates are built on landings. But what is important to of the winter know is that the literature from both Southern Bri sh Colum‐ total run.” bia and Western Washington show that the winter run was diverse and that the early run was large and probably half or even more of the total run. The deple on of the early run and its diversity and produc vity is in part responsible for the long term declines in the total winter runs of the Olympic Peninsula Rivers.
Increased fisheries for hatchery steelhead during the early winter months a er 1960 slowly decreased the wild abundances of wild steelhead, both by season and total run size, in the Olympic Peninsula Rivers. Segregated hatchery fish (as those used in the Bogachiel Hatchery) were med for return during the early winter months. The fishery in December and January increased quickly (WDFW publica ons indicate over 60%) for the combined hatchery and wild fish runs. WDFW managers aimed for a high harvest rate of the hatchery returns but and did not apply any measures to prevent overharvest of the early season wild fish run. What is typical in mixed stock fisheries (in this case hatch‐ ery and wild stocks available at the same me) is that the stock that has fewer fish for harvest is depleted or even eliminated over me. And so this inac ve management allowed heavy catches of early wild steelhead well above sustainability and that run slowly declined to the lower numbers that remain today. We know today that the diﬀerent wild runs (as early win‐ ter, late winter, summer) are dis nct; they do not gener‐ ally spawn together and can be individually depleted. Research has shown there are significant gene c diﬀer‐ ences in seasonal runs in other rivers. This means that fish from the late winter run are gene cally programmed Con nued on next page...
Snider Creek Hatchery Continued from page 15 to return in April and May and do not have the gene c ming capacity to return earlier to help increase the early run. Fortunately in most coastal rivers we have a popu‐ la on of early wild fish remaining that can be man‐ aged in new ways to rebuild that early component of the run. It will take saving as many of the early Photo by C. Ringlee fish as possible including fish saved from catch and release fishing and fish previously taken for brood stock for the Snider Creek Hatchery. The natural produc vity of the early wild fish, if well protect‐ ed, should exceed the Snider Creek hatchery produc on for the early months in just a few genera ons and has the biolog‐ ical probability to greatly increase the river’s total wild pro‐ duc on. The biological probability is high that we can rebuild the early run to an abundance level approaching the historical levels that will a ract as much sport interest for wild fish during December and January as the late run does in March and April.
Hatchery Impacts We need to think of wild steelhead as a wild trout that is very diﬀerent from salmon as they are gene cally, morphologically and physiologically connected to their natal rivers throughout their life cycle. Individuals from a typical brood will spend one to three years or more growing in the river. A few individuals from each brood will residualize and become resident rain‐ bow trout that carry the same wild genes (but a diﬀerent phenotype) as the anadromous steelhead. Rainbow trout “The reasons spawn with each other and with steelhead, and add their for rapid special adap ve traits to about 40% (Chris e, et. al., 2011) of productivity the gene c pool of the migra ng steelhead. This cycle main‐ loss has been tains the steelhead river adap on traits and a reservoir of attributed to spawners when the anadromous numbers are depleted.
a number of The other half of the steelhead trout cycle is spent in the potential genetic ocean feeding, growing and maturing to return and spawn. factors including mutation Steelhead spend one to three years (or more) in the ocean, accumulation, have at least three major return seasons (summer, early inbreeding winter and late winter), return to in their natal river to spawn, and have the gene c capability to live and spawn again. depression, and Abundant and healthy sustaining runs of Steelhead are de‐ domestication pendent on all these life history traits. selection.” Unlike salmon, we a empt to box the 3 or more year steelhead riverine life cycle into one year in the hatchery which elimi‐ nates much of their gene c diversity and capability to sustain. Salmon are raised through their full riverine life cycles and then released as they smolt and can migrate quickly to sea.
Reproductive Productivity of Hatchery Steelhead Recent research has shown very serious impacts to wild steel‐ head from the two types of hatcheries in use in the Pacific Northwest. Both segregated (brood stock that is taken from the hatchery run) and integrated (wild brood stock taken from the wild run) hatcheries have now been well studied and shown to cause rapid and large declines in hatchery bred steelhead produc vity a er they have been returned to the wild. Recent research showing gene c change in steelhead
has revealed that steelhead integrated hatcheries cannot meet the Hatchery Scien fic Review Group (HSRG) goals of: a) “a principle management goal is to minimize gene c
divergence between the hatchery brood stock and a natural spawning popula on; and b) natural‐origin fish are regularly included in the hatchery brood stock at a level suﬃcient to prevent such gene c diver‐ gence.” (HSRG, 2004). Clearly, integrated hatcheries for steelhead cannot meet these requirements: even when they use 100% wild steel‐ head for brood stock each year they maximize rather than minimize gene c divergence and stock declines. Segregated hatcheries, such as the one on the Bogachiel River that uses out‐of basin Chambers Creek stocks, have been well studied on several Washington Rivers. Steelhead from these hatcheries that spawn in the wild have lost between 67 and 98% of their produc vity a er 6 to 10 genera ons when compared to the local wild stock (Araki et. al., 2008). A major improvement in our understanding of integrated hatcheries became available just 4 years ago from the re‐ sults of the Oregon State wild brood stock hatchery re‐ search on the Hood River, Oregon. A defini ve study using a pedigree analysis, or basically gene c sampling of every steelhead‐‐‐hatchery, wild, wild‐hatchery adults and smolts that passed a dam, was conducted to iden fy the origin of every migra ng fish up and down the river. The produc vi‐ ty of three genera ons of hatchery fish were compared to wild fish in that river (Araki, et. al. 2007a; Araki et. al., 2007b, Araki et.al., 2009). Scien sts found that returning fish from this hatchery rap‐ idly lost produc vity when they spawned in the wild. The progeny of hatchery fish lost 37% of their produc vity fol‐ lowing one hatchery genera on. When hatchery raised fish were again spawned in the hatchery or allowed to spawn in the wild, their progeny lost 67% of their produc‐ vity if they spawned with another hatchery fish and 13% if they spawned with a wild fish (Araki et. al., 2007b, 2009). It was shown from this study that the reproduc ve loss is not reversed in successive genera ons but rather remains a permanent produc vity loss as it mixes into the river popu‐ la on when hatchery and wild steelhead spawn together. On the Hood River, this carry‐over of mal‐adapted gene c traits reduced the total popula on produc vity by 8 % in just 2 genera ons (Araki et. al., 2009). The reasons for rapid produc vity loss has been a ributed to a number of poten al gene c factors including muta on accumula on, inbreeding depression, and domes ca on selec on (gene c change due to some type of hatchery selec on) (Araki, 2008). The authors of this review found that domes ca on selec on was the most plausible expla‐ na on for such large and rapid declines. They suggested that selec on for high growth rate and associated conse‐ quences for produc vity are likely most severe for steel‐ head which normally spend two or three years in freshwa‐ ter before migra on. Hatcheries have diﬃculty rearing juveniles from wild brood stock to a threshold smolt size in one year. However they s ll release all fish regardless of size at one me in the spring, providing the opportunity for
Con nued on next page...
Snider Creek Hatchery Continued from page 16 intense selec on (removal of the unfit fish) against the slower growing individuals (Araki, et. al., 2008)
Juvenile River Cycles When hatcheries release Chinook salmon a er 3 months and Coho a er two years it parallels their natural juvenile river cycle. But with steel‐ Photo by C. Ringlee head, releasing their fry a er one year in the hatchery matches up with only a small por on of their natural phenotypes for river me and migra on. The larger fry are mostly those gene cally adapted to migrate and leave the river that year (the one river year phenotype). The 2 year (the largest group) and three year migrants that need extra me for growth and physiological (smol ng) change are far too small to migrate.
The impacts of compe on, o en called ecological impacts, on the produc on of wild natural smolts should also be considered. Compe on has been shown to be a major limi ng factor for wild fish in rivers where returning (introduced) steelhead hatchery adults have spawned. Kostow and Zhou (2006) found that summer steelhead adults (introduced and annually planted since 1971) and their progeny significantly decreased the natural wild winter steelhead run in the Clackamas River, Oregon. When large numbers of fry from the introduced summer stock were present they (collec vely with the wild fry) o en exceeded the rivers carrying capacity and the winter steelhead pro‐ duc on was reduced by 50%. When all foreign fry and smolts were excluded from the system beginning in 2000, the produc on of wild winter smolts in brood years 2000 and 2001 was the highest observed since 1984 and the adult return in 2004 was the highest since 1971.
Residualiza on of these smolts is common and they are abun‐ dant is some reaches of the Sol Duc River. They are most “The Sol Duc abundant in the summer and decline in abundance through natural early fall, and during the winter they are essen ally absent. population has Some of these smolts are surviving, based on the WDFW data, been diluted but survey results suggest most die during the winter. While by genetically most die or migrate a er residualiza on, some Snider Creek smolts residualize in the Sol Duc River for up to 4‐5 years based inferior Snider on the number of large (13‐15”) residual hatchery rainbow Creek hatchery with le pelvic clip that are observed (McMillan, 2011).
As discussed earlier, the Snider Creek Hatchery produces large numbers of fry that do not go to sea (mostly two and three year river med fry) but do survive in the river un l the winter months (McMillan, 2011). These fry are in direct compe on with wild fry un l they die or migrate and u lize a por on of the rivers capacity that normally would support wild fry. These poorly adapted hatchery fry must be consid‐ ered compe on and a nega ve impact to the produc on of wild winter steelhead in the system. Elimina ng these hatchery fry from the river will result in increased wild steel‐ head produc on.
survive to return, their set of phenotypes is largely lost from each hatchery plan ng. As one year and a few two year re‐ turning hatchery steelhead spawners mix into the hatchery/ wild spawning popula on, they impart gene c changes into the natural popula on phenotypic array and begin moving the popula on towards phenotypes of fewer fry river years. This results in a rapid loss of the popula on’s produc vity, because the river food supplies may not support the same number of faster growing fry.
The Percent Natural Influence (PNI) calcula ons used in the WDFW Review of the Snider Creek Steelhead Program (2011) need further review. First, wild brood stock spawned in the hatchery are missing the gene c contribu ons from resident trout which is about 20% in a natural spawning popula on (Chris e, et. al., 2011). A second concern is the status of the fish taken into the hatchery. Progeny from the previous genera on hatchery fish that spawned in the wild will are not marked. Using the 5 week ra o of wild to hatchery fish, or 12.5%, it would suggest a figure of about 3 to 6 fish from the progeny of the recent hatchery spawn that are believed to be wild but are actually unmarked second genera on from hatchery fish that spawned naturally. A third concern should be that the Sol Duc natural popula on has been diluted by gene cally inferior Snider Creek hatch‐ ery return spawners for 25 years. That dilu on rate should be calculated to understand what percent of the wild popu‐ la on are now impacted by past hatchery spawners. It seems reasonable that 25% to 50% (this is only 1 to 2% per year) of the popula on has been impacted over the me of the hatchery releases as the impacts are cumula ve (Araki, et. al., 2009). All of these percentages I have men on should be determined by WDFW to understand the short and long term hatchery fish contribu ons to the wild stock for calcula ng the PNI.
return spawners for 25 years.” Because most of the two and three year fry probably do not
“Even with catch and release ishing on wild steelhead while ishers pursue hatchery ish, the mortality of wild ish will be important to reduce until the early stock is rebuilt.”
Chilcote et. al. (2011) studied the produc vity of 34 popula‐ ons of steelhead that contained both wild and winter fish, including five winter steelhead popula ons from the Washing‐ ton coast. There were no diﬀerences found between segre‐ gated and integrated hatcheries rela ve to changes in produc‐ vity within these mixed hatchery and wild popula ons. This finding seems to follows Araki et. al. (2008), which suggests that gene c changes from domes ca on aﬀect both types of brood stocks. Chilcote et. al. (2011) found a nega ve rela onship between the reproduc ve performance in wild anadromous popula ons of steelhead and the propor on of hatchery fish in the spawn‐ ing popula on. Viewing the graphs presented in this paper, one can see that the propor on of wild fish declines in a nega‐ ve curvilinear expression as the propor on of hatchery fish increases. A reasonable point to compare the Snider Creek popula on to the Chilcote graph is at week 5 when most of the early wild run and the Snider Creek hatchery spawners have entered the Sol Duc River. At this point in the run (early Febru‐ ary), the spawning popula on is composed of 12.5% hatchery fish with a range of 2.3 to 34.23%. This would produce a graphically observed produc vity loss of about 20 to 25% with a range of about 2% upwards towards 50%. WDFW is encour‐ aged to calculate the produc vity loss for week 5 from the model presented in Chilcote et. al. (2011).
WDFW also should consider the probable and recorded impacts on the Sol Duc steelhead stock from the early sea‐ son mixed stock fishery that is growing on Olympic Peninsula Rivers. Even with catch and release fishing on wild steel‐ head while fishers pursue hatchery fish, the mortality of wild fish will be important to reduce un l the early stock is re‐ built. Con nued on next page...
Snider Creek Hatchery Continued from page 18 Summary of the Findings of the WSC Review of the Snider Creek Hatchery 1. Washington has experienced large declines in the statewide steelhead runs in the last 60 years. Five major steelhead popu‐ la ons (Dis nct Popula on Segments) have been ESA listed and most of the remaining rivers are depleted or showing run de‐ clines. 2. The 4 major river systems on the Olympic Peninsula are the last stronghold for wild fish in Washington and the last area where stocks are stated healthy each year and managed to allow har‐ vest. 3. There are indica ons from recent run declines (since 1985) that the Olympic Peninsula Rivers may follow the same path and Puget Sound rivers unless managed for healthy wild runs based on maximizing all the Viable Salmonid Popula on Characteris‐ “Both segregated cs (abundance, diversity, distribu on and produc vity). One (brood stock that example of this decline is:
over to the succeeding genera ons and con nues to decline as hatchery returning fish spawn together or with wild fish in the river. 10. Wild steelhead fry normally spend one to three years or more in the river to grow to migra on size. The two year river fry normally dominate each brood. 11. Produc vity loss in hatchery steelhead has been a ributed to domes ca on selec on which results in gene c loss in their normal expression (s) of the number of years fry spend in the river. 12. Wild steelhead are hard to raise and most grow slower than desired in the hatchery; hence most fry in a brood year do not reach migra on size in one year. When hatchery fish are released into the river a er one year, the fry needing 2 and 3 years for growth and smol ng are poorly adapted for river life and many do not survive. This means that the fish ge‐ ne cally programmed to migrate the first year begin to gain dominance in the hatchery returning fish, the original com‐ ponent that was only about 15% of a natural wild stock.
is taken from the hatchery run) 4. A 1950’s es mate of the average run size in the Quillayute River 13. While in the river, the 2 and 3 year med hatchery fry com‐ and integrated pete with the wild fry. This reduces the survival of wild fry system was 17,600 wild fish. That average dropped to 14,300 in and the number that smolt and go to sea. Research has (wild brood stock the 1980’s and to about 10,700 during the recent 5 year period. shown that this compe on with hatchery fry in the river taken from The other major rivers on the Olympic Peninsula show similar declines. reduces the number of adults that return. the wild run) hatcheries have 5. The WDFW Statewide Steelhead Management Plan placed the 14. Another recent study analyzed the produc vity of 34 mixed now been well wild and hatchery runs, including 5 from coastal Washington. highest priority on the protec on of wild steelhead stocks. The studied and The scien sts found no diﬀerences between segregated primary goal is to: “restore the abundance, distribu on, diversi‐ ty, and long term produc vity of Washington’s wild steelhead (recycled stock) and integrated (wild stock) hatcheries in shown to cause and their habitats to assure healthy stocks”. Given that the their impacts to produc vity. rapid and large abundance, produc vity and diversity, including the gene cs, of declines in the Sol Duc stocks have been largely compromised by hatcher‐ 15. We suggest that WDFW apply the model from this research hatchery bred ies, we recommend applying this goal to rebuild the VSP’s in this paper (Chilcote et. al., 2011) and calculate the impact of the steelhead river. This goal can only be realized if the Snider Creek Hatchery loss of produc vity at week 5 when most of the early run productivity and the summer steelhead hatchery plan ngs are eliminated. spawners are in the river. Our visual observa ons from the graphs presented in the research paper indicate that when after they have the popula on is at week 5 and composed of 12.5% hatchery been returned 6. Historical sport and tribal records show an early wild steelhead run as large as, or larger than, the late run before hatcheries spawners, the loss of produc vity of the mixed popula on is to the wild.” were built on Washington Rivers. That early run has been, in part, depleted by sport and tribal fishing that targeted the early med hatchery steelhead without any restric ons on the wild steelhead catch. This deple on, along with hatchery impacts described below are the main cause for the lower early run and total run sizes that we have today.
7. Recent research has shown conclusively that a mixed spawning popula on of hatchery and wild steelhead will decline due to changes in its reproduc ve performance. Under no scenario can a wild popula on maintain its natural abundance when hatchery fish are planted and spawn in the river. 8. Research on the Hood River has shown that hatchery stocks will lose about 37 ½ % of their produc vity as compared to wild stocks when they return and spawn in the wild. If returning hatchery stocks are used a second me in the hatchery, their progeny will then lose about 70% of their produc vity. When first me hatchery stocks spawn together in the wild their prog‐ eny will also lose the same amount of produc vity as second genera on hatchery fish, or 70%. If they spawn with a wild fish they will lose about 15% but they are now dilu ng their gene c loss with wild fish.
9. Stocks do not recover from the impacts of hatchery stocks. Research on the Hood River shows that lost produc vity carries
in the order of 20 to 25%. At 25% hatchery spawners the loss of produc vity is in the order of 40%.
16. In reference to the WDFW Review of the Snider Creek Pro‐ gram and the op ons on p. 13 we recommend the following: 1) Create a wild gene bank in the Sol Duc River, 2) Eliminate the Snider Creek project, 3) Manage the Sol Duc as a Wild Steelhead Management Area by managing to maximize the Viable Salmonid Popula on characteris cs. This will allow the popula on to reach peak abundance and diversity and provide new informa on on the best ways to manage wild steelhead. We recommend that fishing con nue during the full season on the Sol Duc.
17. If WDFW finds that it must produce hatchery fish for Janu‐ ary fishing, we recommend spli ng the Bogachiel River segregated hatchery produc on into two groups. Time a first group of 75,000 smolts to return in December and a second group of 75,000 smolts to return in January. We recommend against using the Calawah River to replace the Snider Creek Hatchery and the habitat poor Clearwater as the primary gene bank on the Olympic Peninsula. Dick Burge is the V.P. of Science for the Wild Steelhead Coali on. A bibliography for this ar cle is available on pages 21‐22.
Research Indicates Wild Fish Conserva on Best Served By Minimizing Wild/Hatchery Interac ons source: h p://www.cbbulle n.com/406851.aspx Reprinted with permission from Columbia Basin Fish & Wildlife New Bulle n 5/25/11 An exhaus ve look at available data for 89 popula ons of chinook and coho salmon and steelhead shows that produc‐ vity in the wild shrinks in direct propor on with increases in the percentage of hatchery fish that join wild fish on the spawning grounds. “Our results suggest that the net reproduc ve performance of the popula on will decline under all of the hatchery scenari‐ “The impact of os,” according to “Reduced recruitment performance in natu‐ hatchery ish ral popula ons of anadromous salmonids associated with from ‘wild type’ hatchery‐reared fish,” a research paper published in the hatchery March 2011 edi on of the Canadian Journal of Fisheries and brood stocks Aqua c Sciences. The paper was authored by Mark Chilcote of was no less NOAA Fisheries and Ken Goodson and Ma Falcy of the Ore‐ gon Department of Fish and Wildlife.
adverse than hatchery ish The paper can be found at: h p://cjfas.nrc.ca from traditional, domesticated “While using hatchery fish in the short‐term to reduce ex nc‐ on risk and temporarily boost depressed wild popula ons to broodstocks.” re‐establish norma ve biological func on are laudable con‐ serva on roles, such ac ons come at a cost in terms of reduc‐ ons in per capita recruitment performance,” the paper says.
“Therefore, we conclude, as did Chilcote (2003) and Nickel‐ son (2003), that under most circumstances the long‐term conserva on of wild popula ons is best served by the imple‐ menta on of measures that minimize the interac ons be‐ tween wild and hatchery fish. When considering the bookends – a totally wild spawning popula on vs. a spawning popula on comprised 100 percent of fish from hatchery origins – the conclusion was stark. The hatchery popula ons on average produced only 12.8 percent of the recruits (the number of fish that have matured in the ocean as counted before they encounter fisheries) produced by the wild popula on. “The eﬀect of hatchery fish on reproduc ve performance was the same among all three species. Further, the impact of hatchery fish from ‘wild type’ hatchery broodstocks was no less adverse than hatchery fish from tradi onal, domes cated “Keep the broodstocks.
hatchery ish off the spawning “We also found no support for the hypothesis that a popula‐ on’s reproduc ve performance was aﬀected by the length of grounds as much exposure to hatchery fish,” the paper says. “In most cases, as possible if measures that minimize the interac ons between wild and the goal is to hatchery fish will be the best long‐term conserva on strategy rebuild the for wild popula ons.” wild population” The analysis shows that it’s wise to “keep the hatchery fish oﬀ the spawning grounds as much as possible if the goal is to rebuild the wild popula on,” said Goodson, the ODFW’s Con‐ serva on Planning coordinator. “We kind of suggest that supplementa on might not be the way to go,” in many cases, Goodson said.
“If the fish are going to wink out because there are problems” that won’t be remedied in the shorter‐term, supplemen ng wild popula ons with hatchery fish may be necessary, Good‐
son said. “In some cases that is all we can do.” But the paper advises that such decisions should be weighed care‐ fully. “Supplemen ng natural spawning areas with hatchery fish to benefit the local wild popula on is a conserva on tool that has seen widespread use in the Pacific Northwest (ISAB 2003),” the paper says. “The intent of this ac vity includes re‐establishing natural produc on in vacant habi‐ tats, lessening the risk of demographic ex nc on for wild popula ons, ensuring the available habitats are seeded to full capacity, and maintenance of gene c lineages. “Depending on the circumstances there is a balance be‐ tween risks and benefits that conserva on managers must accurately assess and act on if supplementa on programs are to be successful and achieve their intended eﬀect,” the paper says. The analysis indicates that using wild fish as broodstock in so‐called integrated programs does not necessarily make a more wild‐friendly hatchery fish. “Surprisingly, we found that neither length of me ex‐ posed to hatchery fish nor hatchery type has any eﬀect on a popula on’s intrinsic produc vity,” the paper says. “The incorpora on of wild fish into hatchery broodstocks has been undertaken with the expecta on it will ensure that the hatchery fish produced will be gene cally similar to the local wild fish. “Therefore, it is assumed that such gene cally similar hatchery fish, if they escape capture and spawn in the natural habitat, will not harm, and may in fact benefit the conserva on of the wild popula on. “Use of wild fish for hatchery broodstock is a cornerstone of hatchery reforms currently being implemented for salmon and steelhead hatchery programs across much of the Pacific Northwest (USFWS 2010),” the paper says. “However, our findings call into ques on the eﬀec veness of this path as a means to lessen the impact of hatchery programs on wild popula ons.” For the analysis the researchers selected 93 popula ons (four later were dropped for a variety of reasons) of anad‐ romous salmonids from the states of Oregon, Washington and Idaho that were known to contain both wild and hatchery fish. They employed annual es mates from 1981 to 2000 of parental (spawner) abundance for each popula on that were based on informa on sources that diﬀered by spe‐ cies and region. They then es mated the propor on of hatchery fish in the natural spawning popula on.
The next step was to es mate the “preharvest number of adult progeny (recruits) naturally produced by each brood year of spawners using the following four‐step process,” the paper says. Con nued on next page...
Wild/Hatchery Interactions Continued from page 19
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“First, we es mated annual return abundance by dividing the
“Using wild ish fishery survival rate, calculated as 1 ‐ fishery mortality rate, as broodstock into the observed number of wild spawners. Next, we split in so‐called each return into age categories, on the basis of the assumed integrated propor on of diﬀerent age at maturity for each popula on. programs does “A table of return es mates by each age category was then not necessarily constructed, and members produced by each brood year make a more were iden fied,” the paper says. “Finally, all members of each wild‐friendly brood year were totaled to yield an es mate of recruits.” hatchery ish.” “Our primary finding is that across a broad geographical range and three diﬀerent species, Ph (the percentage of hatchery fish on the spawning ground) was a popula on char‐ acteris c that is nega vely associated with reproduc ve per‐ formance,” the paper says. “Intrinsic produc vity declines as the frac on of the hatchery spawners in the natural popula on increases. “We came to this conclusion a er considering 12 diﬀerent models that a empted to weigh the eﬀect of four other co‐ variates in addi on to Ph.”
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Bibliography of Recent Hatchery Research For the ar cle:
The Snider Creek Hatchery: The impacts of the hatchery and increased wild stock harvest
on the early Sol Duc River winter wild steelhead run with recommendations for recovery.
By Dick Burge, June 2011
(“The Adipose”, June 2011 issue, pp. 2‐6)
Araki, H., W.R. Arden, E. Olsen, B. Cooper and M.S. Blouin. 2007a. Reproduc ve Success of Cap ve‐Bred Steelhead Trout in the Wild: Evalua on of Three Hatchery Programs in the Hood River. Conserva on Biology 21(1). 185‐190. Araki, H., B. Cooper and M.S Blouin. 2007b. Gene c Eﬀects of Cap ve Breeding Cause a Rapid, Cumula ve Fitness Decline in the Wild. Science 318 5 October 2007. 100‐103. Araki, H., B.A. Berejikian, M.J. Ford and M.S. Blouin. 2008. Fitness of hatchery‐reared salmonids in the wild. Evolu on Applica ons ISSN 1752‐4571. Araki, H., B. Cooper and M. S. Blouin. 2009. Cary‐over eﬀect of cap ve breeding reduces reproduc ve fitness of wild‐born descend‐ ants in the wild. Biology le ers: Conserva on Biology. J. Royal Society. 1‐4. Chilcote, M.W., K. W. Goodson, and M. R. Falcy. 2011. Reduced recruitment performance in natural popula ons of anadromous salm‐ onids associated with hatchery‐reared fish. Can. J. Aqua c Science. 68: 511‐522 Kostow, K. E., A. R. Marshall and S. R. Phelps. 2003. Natural Spawning Hatchery Steelhead Contribute to Smolt Produc on but Experi‐ ence Low Reproduc ve Success. Transac ons of the American Fisheries Society 132: 780‐790. Kostow, K. E. and S. Zhou. 2006. The Eﬀect of an Introduced Steelhead Hatchery Stock on the Produc vity of a Wild Winter Steelhead Popula on. Transac ons of the American Fisheries Society. 135: 825‐841. McMillan, J. 2011. Unpublished data from observa on made while conduc ng diving surveys in the Sol Duc River. Hatchery Scien fic Review Group. 2004. Hatchery Reform: Principles and Recommenda ons of the Hatchery Scien fic Review Group. April 2004. Washington Department Fish and Game. 2011. Review of the Snider Creek Steelhead Program. This review can be found on line at: h p://www.wdfw.wa.gov/conserva on/fisheries/snider_creek. An Annotated Bibliography of the Literature Documen ng the Historical Early Steelhead Run Deshazo, L.A. 1985. Thirty Years of Hatchery Steelhead in Washington Harvest Management. Problems with Commingled Wild Stocks. WDG. (Text of a presenta on to the North Pacific Chapter of the American Fisheries Society, March 27, 1985). Deshazo described rivers in Puget Sound already depressed in rela on to their respec ve escapement goals, including the Skagit, the Snohomish, and the Green River Systems. He stated the most probable cause of this condi on to be the over harvest of early wild steelhead while a emp ng to harvest hatchery fish. Hendry, M.A., J.K. Wenburg, K.W. Myers, and A.P. Hendry. 2002. Gene c and Phenotypic Varia on through the Migratory Season Provides Evidence for Mul ple Popula ons of Wild Steelhead in the Dean River, Bri sh Columbia. American Fisheries Society 131: 418 ‐434. 2002. The authors found that the early and late summer runs to the Dean River showed highly significant gene c diﬀerences. These re‐ sults suggest at least two popula ons migrate at diﬀerent mes (summer) to the Dean River system. Hooton, R.S. 1983. Steelhead Management on Vancouver Island. J.M. Walton and D. B. Houston, Editors. In, Proceedings of the Olympic Wild Fish Conference. Hooton found the sport catch on the popular rivers on Vancouver Island to be in a steep decline in the 1970’s and early 1980’s with the declines during the first half of the winter season the most no ceable. He a ributed this condi on to increasing annual fishing eﬀort with anglers harves ng rather than releasing a higher por on of their early versus late season catch. To protect wild steelhead stocks, the BC regula ons for Vancouver Island restricted fishing to selec ve gear and catch and release of sum‐ mer steelhead in 1978; and winter steelhead regula ons further changed to a December 1 to March 1 catch and release basis in 1981.
Bibliography lis ngs con nue on next page
Bibliography of Recent Hatchery Research Continued from page 22 For the ar cle:
The Snider Creek Hatchery: The impacts of the hatchery and increased wild stock harvest
on the early Sol Duc River winter wild steelhead run with recommendations for recovery.
By Dick Burge, June 2011
(“The Adipose”, June 2011 issue, pp. 2‐6)
McMillan, B. 2006. Historic Steelhead Abundances: Washington N.W. Coast and Puget Sound. Wild Salmon Center. pp 1‐234. Report is on line at: h p//www. wildsalmoncenter.org (Publica ons: Ar cles and Reports). Sport and tribal catches are reviewed from the earliest records available and es mates are made of the historical abundances. Catches by month are presented for coastal rivers.
Sport catches for the Bogachiel River (comparing the period’s 1955 to 1956 and 2000 to 2002) show a major shi in the seasonal ming of the catches of wild steelhead. The historical data shows strong runs in December, January and February which have all significantly declined while the runs in March and April have remained similar over the me frame.
The Sol Duc sport catch shown the largest historical (1950’s) runs occurred in December and January and then slowly declined through April. The early run has declined following the opera on of the Bogachiel hatchery and the advent of the mixed stock fishery and has shi ed to peaking during the later months (2000 to 2002 comparison) with March being the highest.
The historical catches from the Calawah River show January as the peak month, followed by April and then December. The Dickey River shows no apparent seasonal shi as historical catches were too low to discern any change.
The tribal fishery has operated only on the lower Quillayute over me. Their historical catches of wild fish (1946 to 1958) were large during the early season, peaking in January, with an average annual take of 168 fish (10.4 %) in November; 415 fish (25.8%) in December; 1026 fish (63.8%) in January; 496 fish (30.8%) in February; and 40 fish (2.4%) in March. Where‐as these numbers do not reflect a full season fishery (apparently the tribe did not fish in much of March or in April), the catch numbers depict the same large early run as the sport catches did from individual tributary rivers (Bogachiel, Sol Duc and Calawah Rivers) of the Quil‐ layute system during the early months which have subsequently declined. WDFW Staﬀ . 1996. An Analysis of the Natural Return Timing of Wild steelhead in the Quillayute River System. A report to the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission, December, 1996. The appendix contains a report presented to the Washington Wildlife Commission by McLachlan, B. 1994 tled “Historical Evidence Indica ng the Natural Return Timing of Quillayute Winter Steelhead with Reference to the Present Return Timing”. Randy Cooper has a copy of this report. This report stated that, based on a review of early and late season sport harvests that “This analysis of historical and recent harvest pa erns does show a significant decline in the December harvest for the Sol Duc and Bogachiel/Quillayute por ons of the water shed for the more recent me period”. Also “The April harvest for the Sol Duc shows a sta s cally significant increase for the post – 1978 period. WDG. 1956 and 1957. Game Bulle ns, 8(1) and 9(1). The run data in these bulle ns is presented by month and total for over 100 rivers. Rivers documented in these Bulle ns having large early returning wild steelhead runs include the Chehalis, Cowlitz, Elwha, Green, Hoh, Humptulips, Lewis, Naselle, Puyallup, Queets, Quillayute, Quinault, Satsop, Saulk, Skykomish, Snohomish, Snoqualmie, S llaguamish, Toutle, Wenatchee and Yakima Wild Steelhead Coali on, 2006. The Status of Wild Steelhead and Their Management in Western Washington: Strategies for Conserva‐ on and Recrea on. This publica on can be found on line at h t://www.wildsteelheadcoali on.org (publica ons). This publica on compared the monthly winter runs for the three major rivers (Bogachiel, Sol Duc and the Calawah Rivers) of the Quillayute River system using the early years 1951‐‐1955 data from WDFW (1996) and current sport catch informa on (1991‐ 1995) provided by WDFW. The Quillayute River System early sport catch for December and January had declined from 40.8% to 18.8% of the total season catch. Historical catches of the 1953‐54 to 1960‐61 seasons were well distributed across the winter season with a low in April and a high in March. The Recent catches (1990‐91 to 1994‐5 seasons) were low in December and peaked in March with the winter run skewed towards March and April which, in combina on, increased from 38.7% to 59.1% of the catch. This paper noted that the run ming informa on was not always complete from past sport harvest records as some rivers, or sec ons of rivers, were not always open each year through the end of April. Also, the catch does not always reflect the me fish entered the rivers. Fish that enter early may not be caught un l later in the season.
The Wild Steelhead Coalition was founded in 2000, and is dedicated to increasing the return of wild steelhead to waters of the Paci ic Northwest. Beliefs of the WSC: Wild steelhead are an important legacy to the Pacific Northwest and have undeniably been reduced to a frac on of their once historical capacity. Over harvest, habitat degrada on, poor hatchery prac ces, construc on of impassable barriers to migra on, and misguided management strategies have all contributed significantly to the decline, and in some cases ex nc on, of wild fish runs. Without a change in policies and a tudes, these same factors will con nue to reduce and ex rpate wild steelhead.
The summer 2011 newsletter of the Wild Steelhead Coalition, a nonprofit dedicated to improving the return of wild steelhead to rivers of the...