who fish for steelhead in five tributaries of the lower Columbia River can
expect to see some changes in those fisheries as a result of new federal
requirements for state hatchery production recently issued by NOAA-Fisheries.
accordance with the new requirements, the Washington Department of Fish and
Wildlife will no longer release Chambers Creek winter steelhead into the
Kalama, Coweeman, or Washougal rivers after this year. The same is true for
Rock and Salmon creeks.
in Puget Sound and introduced to the Columbia Basin in the 1950s, the Chambers
Creek stock will be prohibited from release into those tributaries after this
year under a federal biological opinion issued by NOAA Fisheries in January.
Kinne, WDFW hatchery division manager, said the department expects to release
the last of about 200,000 Chambers Creek fish into those waters later this
month. Starting next year, the
department will replace those fish with steelhead from local stocks.
BiOp concluded that eliminating that stock would help protect the genetic
integrity of wild steelhead populations," Kinne said. "We are
committed to recovering wild salmon and steelhead populations, while providing
sustainable fishing opportunities for anglers in the Columbia River Basin and
throughout the state."
said Chambers Creek fish will return to rivers and streams for the next three
years, after which area fisheries will depend on steelhead from local stocks.
To support those fisheries, WDFW plans to:
Release a total of 135,000 local Kalama late winter steelhead – an increase of
45,000 fish – into the Kalama River each year. In the long term, WDFW plans to
develop an early-timed run, similar to that of the Chambers Creek stock that
will return from November through January.
Release winter steelhead available from the Eagle Creek hatchery in Oregon as a
near-term replacement for Chambers Creek stock in the Washougal and Coweeman
rivers and in Rock Creek.
Replace Chambers Creek fish with Kalama late winter stock in Salmon Creek.
the Kalama River, WDFW also plans to substitute a local broodstock – Kalama
summer steelhead – for Skamania-origin summer steelhead.
said WDFW's plan for replacing the Chambers Creek fish will increase the annual
number of smolt plants by 50 percent, although the department's effort to
develop an early-timed run that corresponds to the Chambers Creek return will
likely take a decade or more.
will definitely miss that early winter steelhead fishery until we can establish
an early run using local stocks," Kinne said.
state fishery managers are preparing for future requirements of the federal
BiOp, which will be phased in through 2022. The next phase focuses on salmon
hatcheries in the Columbia River Basin, establishing new requirements on the
type, number and location of salmon released by hatcheries in Washington,
Oregon and Idaho that receive federal funding under the Mitchell Act.
by Congress in 1938, the Mitchell Act was designed to compensate northwest
states for impacts to salmon runs resulting from dams, water diversions,
pollution and logging in the Columbia basin. Under the BiOp, state, federal and
tribal hatchery operations that do not comply with the new regulations risk
losing federal funding provided under that law.
of those facilities operated by WDFW below Bonneville Dam receive approximately
$5.5 million in Mitchell Act funding per year.
provision of the BiOp calls for reducing annual releases of "tule"
fall chinook salmon in Washington state by 5.4 million fish, partly offset by
higher fish production in Oregon. Other requirements include the installation
of six new weirs – at a cost of more than $1 million – along with increased
monitoring and reporting responsibilities.
Cunningham, deputy assistant director of WDFW's Fish Program, said the new
requirements will put a strain on the department's resources.
the past decade, WDFW has made substantial progress in restructuring our
hatchery system to protect wild fish," Cunningham said. "But the kind
of changes envisioned under the BiOp will require new funding. Without
additional support, we will not be able to achieve the goals set by
NOAA-Fisheries, and will be forced to reduce hatchery releases or halt
production at some hatcheries altogether."
said he and other fishery managers will be conferring with NOAA-Fisheries on
implementation of the BiOp during each phase of the process.
federal BiOp on Mitchell Act hatcheries is posted at: http://www.westcoast.fisheries.noaa.gov/publications/hatchery/mitchell-act/mitchell-act_opinion_011517.pdf
CBB, Jan. 19, 2017, “NOAA Completes BiOp For Mitchell Act Hatcheries, Proposes
Reduction In Fall Chinook Releases” http://www.cbbulletin.com/438210.aspx