The paper below is a briefing paper created for the WDF&W Commission by R-6 staffer Kirt Hughes. Now lets not get side tracked on a hatchery good or bad thing as this was a conceptual briefing but that said look to the thoughts involved. In particular how the proposal is completely aimed at creating another commercial fishery and maybe the sports might catch some. ( I will highlight the spots ) Now I do not think this ever went anyplace but the mind set and thought process on assigning values does come out. Often words while not intended to do so show the bias in a persons thoughts unintentionally and brother this little ditty does. I will try to get a link to the Power Point presentation that went with this soon.


Meeting dates: August 8-9, 2008 Meeting (briefing)

Agenda item #: Willapa Bay SAFE Program – briefing

Staff Contact: Kirt Hughes, Region 6 Fish Program Manager (Fish Program)

Presenter(s): Kirt Hughes, Region 6 Fish Program Manager (Fish Program)


In June 2008, WDFW staff received an official request from the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission, to investigate the benefits, risk, logistics and costs associated with the development of a hatchery spring Chinook (SAFE type project) program to provide additional fishery opportunity in Willapa Bay. Staff has discussed the merits of this type of program and outlined the details associated with developing such a program in the Willapa Bay watershed. The following is a brief synopsis of those discussions.

Meaningful Fishery
The first item to consider is whether a meaningful fishery would be created. From a commercial perspective the threshold for a meaningful fishery was measured in terms of ex-
vessel value a range of program sizes were determined by back-calculating price/pound,
average weight of returning adults, contribution to fisheries and smolt release to adult survival rates. Assumptions utilized in these calculations are an average 15 pounds per fish, $7.50 per pound with 72.9% of the adult return contributing to the local commercial fishery. An average of 0.88% smolt to adult return rate was used to estimate the number of fish available to the fishery. The contribution to fisheries and return rate are averages for similar programs in the lower Columbia River. A pilot or proof-of-concept program with a 50K yearling smolt release would provide a projected return of 440 adults and approximately $36,000 ex-vessel value annually after the third release year; a full production level release of 300K – similar to Deep River net-pens – would yield 2,640 adults with a projected ex-vessel value $217,000. Defining a meaningful fishery in recreational terms is a bit more abstract although availability of returning adults in abundance that support commercial harvest generally provides for recreational opportunity at some level.

Facility Location
Any of the three existing Willapa hatchery facilities (Forks Creek, Nemah and Naselle) could rear spring Chinook, however that production should not displace current production.
However, because of the additional water needs and pond space required for rearing spring
Chinook, current programs would be impacted if this new production was anticipated to occur at existing facilities. With that in mind, a net-pen facility offers the greatest possibility of
success. Net-pen production would be developed in a similar fashion to the Columbia River
Select Area Fishery Evaluation Projects (SAFE projects) at Deep River, Youngs Bay and other locations in the lower Columbia River. Additionally a net-pen facility would concentrate returning adults in the vicinity of the pens thereby maximizing the contribution to harvest.
Net-pen site location requires certain physical conditions such as water depth, high levels of tidal exchange or freshwater flow, and a host of parameters associated with permitting a site.
Within Willapa Bay the best locations appear to be near Toke Point or in the lower Willapa River between towns of South Bend and Raymond; other sites continue to be explored.

Broodstock Source
There are no natural spring Chinook stocks in Willapa Bay, therefore a hatchery brood stock would require an out-of-basin source. As with any hatchery program there are disease considerations that must be taken into account. Development of a hatchery Spring Chinook program in Willapa Bay would need to be done consistent with fish health standards and in compliance with the co-managers disease policy. Sources considered in this evaluation:
• Willapa Bay; does not have natural spring Chinook stock.
• Chehalis River springs Chinook; closest stock geographically, however the absence of spring Chinook hatchery programs within the Chehalis system would require brood stock
collection from natural spawning stocks within the upper river.
• Sol Duc River spring Chinook, which were historically introduced have integrated genetically with the Sol Duc River summer Chinook and as a result have a later run timing.
• Puget Sound has a number of spring Chinook hatchery programs, however these are recovery projects and as such not available for transfer to out-of-basin locations.
• Cowlitz and Kalama hatcheries in the lower Columbia River basin, both have spring Chinook program; these are considered to be the most viable sources.

The most likely brood stock source would be Kalama Hatchery because of their ability to provide early rearing of juveniles needed to meet program goals. A proof-of-concept size program might represent a first step. Fingerlings would be transferred to the site after initial rearing at a land-based facility in the lower Columbia, again Kalama in the most likely brood source. It is assumed that a proof-of-concept level of production could be absorbed into Kalama’s current program. However at the receiving facility on additional hatchery worker would be required to feed and care for the fish while there are in the net-pens. To reduce disease loss due to temperature of the receiving water it is recommended that fingerlings be transferred in September or October and reared to release in May.

Non-target Stock and Species Interactions
Hatchery net-pen operations and fisheries management have the potential to have unintended implications on non-target stocks and species. The full extent of fishery impacts on non-target stock and species are unknown. This is the case for any new fish production project and those which have not operated for the length of time necessary to evaluate through data collection and monitoring. Proper fishery management requires that all fisheries are monitored at some level. Monitoring and evaluation of fisheries targeting a spring Chinook in Willapa Bay would be critical to understanding the impact on non-targeted stocks and species and the success of the program. To facilitate monitoring and evaluation all releases would need to be coded-wire tagged and externally marked. The commercial component would require on-board observer coverage and dockside sampling. Additional spawning ground surveys and hatchery sampling would be needed. This information would provide estimated catch, bycatch, estimated escapement back to the release site and the spawning grounds to obtain survival rates, as well as potential information about interactions with natural spawning stocks.

This fishery would be conducted during spring and early summer, during a time when fisheries had not been previously occurring in Willapa Bay. This would require additional enforcement. It is likely that this would result in some additional enforcement costs and potential conflicts with other enforcement priorities.

Net-pen and associated cost of set-up are estimated at $7,000 per net-pen (except permitting); loading densities and size of net-pen evaluated here have a capacity of 50,000 yearling smolts
averaging 10 fish/pound. Annual fish food cost currently $4,300, per year per 50,000 yearlingsmolts being reared from fingerling to an average of 10 fish/pound at release. Salary and operating costs (vehicle, vessel, etc.) for a temporary worker to care for and feed fish while in the net-pens are approximately $63,000. The cost of initial rearing at the source facility has not been evaluated. For the initial acquisition of permits, sighting of the location, installation of required markers, buoys, and other associated hardware, plus the aforementioned actual rearing costs, the pilot projects estimated first year budget impact would be approximately $120,000; subsequent annual costs would be about $75,000 at the pilot project level of fish production. The total cost of this program if initiated would require new funding from the legislature. Additional cost will be associated with monitoring and evaluation once adult begin
to return and fisheries are initiated.

Policy issue(s) you are bringing to the Commission for consideration:
Should WDFW staff continue to pursue this activity?

Public involvement process used and what you learned:
It will be important to involve the public should WDFW Regional Fish Program staff be asked to move forward with investigating this concept further. As part of that staff would look to the Willapa Bay Fishery Advisory Group to gain initial insight and comments from both recreational and commercial interests and from the local Regional Fisheries Enhancement Group. Staff would also request that the Hatchery Scientific Review Group review and comment. Should those discussions result in a favorable outcome relative to this concept; staff would begin discussing logistical aspects of this program with other agencies at both the state and federal level, such as: Washington State Department of Ecology, United States Army Corps of Engineers, and NOAA Fisheries to name a few.

Action requested:
None. Briefing Only.

Draft motion language:

Justification for Commission action:

Form revised 10/25/07

Edited by Rivrguy (06/09/13 11:46 AM)
Dazed and confused.............the fog is closing in