A scientific panel completed its review of
Northwest tribes’ master plan outlining activities to recover Pacific lamprey
in the Columbia River basin, saying that the plan meets scientific review
criteria with some qualifications.
The plan describes ongoing and proposed adult
translocation and artificial propagation activities for lamprey, as well as
existing and proposed facilities needed to meet artificial propagation
Although it mostly focuses on activities that
originate with the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation and the
Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, it also provides a
comprehensive description of supplementation activities in the basin and
ongoing adult translocation activities being conducted by the Nez Perce Nation.
A Step 1 Review of the “Master Plan: Pacific
Lamprey Artificial Propagation, Translocation, Restoration, and Research –
Conceptual phase to address Step 1 Master Plan review elements” (https://nwcouncil.app.box.com/s/em09zw9p9iv4mhoh8em6k4b06r4khjvr) was completed by the Independent Scientific Review Panel and is posted
at the Northwest Power and Conservation Council’s website (https://www.nwcouncil.org/reports/step-1-review-pacific-lamprey-master-plan.
According to the Master Plan -- submitted to
the Council and ISRP March 2 by the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish
Commission, the Yakama Nation, the Umatilla Tribes and the Nez Perce -- actions
described in the Plan will “provide synergy with other actions such as
improvements to passage, habitat, and water quality to help meet restoration
goals for Pacific Lamprey in the Columbia River Basin.”
According to the tribes’ plan, Pacific lamprey
return to the Columbia River basin at a fraction of their historical level. The
tribes’ goal is to have the lamprey widely distributed throughout the basin “in
numbers that fully provide for ecological, tribal, cultural and harvest values.
Through various regional and tribal efforts, the goals are to reestablish
Pacific Lamprey as a fundamental component of the ecosystem and restore Pacific
Lamprey to sustainable, harvestable levels throughout the historical range.”
The Master Plan largely meets the conceptual
requirements for a Step 1 review, the ISRP said.
“The proponents recognize that there is still
much to be learned about how, or if, artificial propagation and translocation
can be used in Pacific lamprey conservation and restoration,” the review said.
For example, there is uncertainty about the
genetic effects of adult translocation and out-planting of propagated larvae on
the basin’s lamprey population segments. However, the plan “provides a strong
rationale” for using both of these recovery options.
“To help resolve this and other questions,
they propose a four-phased program that is comprehensive and well presented,”
the ISRP said of the tribes’ report. However, among the items where more information
is needed are:
--Quantitative performance objectives were
developed for Phase 1 that describe expected survival rates of artificially
cultured lamprey from fertilization to release, but it does not describe how
survival and growth of propagated lamprey will be monitored in the hatchery.
That should be done in Step 2.
--Phase 2 evaluates the survival and growth of
propagated lamprey that have been transplanted into natural environments. Step
2 should describe the analytical approaches taken to evaluate the effectiveness
of out-planting propagated lamprey that have different life stages.
--The overarching goal of Phase 3 is to
compare and evaluate the effectiveness of different lamprey supplementation
strategies to ascertain which are the most successful. An example is the
translocation versus artificial propagation involving release at one or more
life stages. A clear definition of what success represents is needed.
--The tribes should consult with the U.S. Fish
and Wildlife Service to determine if a document that is functionally equivalent
to NOAA Fisheries’ Hatchery and Genetic Management Plan is required for this
project. Such a document would be beneficial.
--The Master Plan should specifically state
what aspects of the proposed artificial propagation and translocation efforts
are being implemented to identify and protect adaptive genetic diversity within
the Columbia Basin.
--An Environmental Assessment will need to be
included in Step 2 due to the geographic scope and number of juvenile lamprey
that are scheduled for release.
The plan addresses the use of supplementation
to prevent extirpation and to restore abundance in historically-occupied
habitats. “Parallel efforts are needed to quantify the relative importance of
the factors limiting Pacific lamprey throughout the Columbia Basin,” the ISRP
said. If the tribes are successful at rearing and releasing propagated juvenile
lamprey, “serious issues will still remain about the quality, quantity, and
distribution of habitat that can provide long-term support of this species.”
Other challenges are upstream and downstream
passage and the possible effects of contaminants on lamprey vitality.
“A coordinated, multifaceted effort is
underway through the Columbia River Basin Tribes’ programs, USFWS, US Army
Corps of Engineers, the broader Pacific Lamprey Conservation Initiative, and
others that will need to be continued to ensure that self-sustaining
populations of Pacific lamprey can be maintained throughout the species’
historical range,” the ISRP concluded.