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#1019048 - 12/19/19 11:56 AM Yet another twist in the SRKW saga
cohoangler Offline
Three Time Spawner

Registered: 12/29/99
Posts: 1514
Loc: Vancouver, Washington
I thought about adding another post to the previous thread on SRKW’s and Chinook, but my rant might deserve its own thread.

So here’s another frustrating twist to the SRKW story…..

NMFS is actively trying to increase hatchery production of Chinook to help SRKW, but they are actively discouraging an increase in wild Chinook productivity for the same purposes. This is equally frustrating when you consider that, for fall Chinook (tules), increasing the production of wild fish can occur almost immediately, and it will cost absolutely zero. That’s right - zero. It’s free.

The solution is simple: Allow the hatchery adults access to the spawning grounds so they can spawn.

Lemme explain. There are numerous tribs in the Columbia Basin where WDFW and ODFW have built blocking weirs that prevent adult hatchery Chinook from spawning. Thousands of mature adult fall Chinook are removed from these tribs every year, and are carted away in big crates, destined for cat food or whatever.

For example, at NMFS’s insistence WDFW built a trapping weir on the Kalama River in 2015. This past fall, WDFW removed 10,094 adult fall Chinook from the Kalama River at the Modrow Trap. They returned 1,013 wild Chinook (unclipped fish) to the river to spawn.

But that means 10,000+ fall Chinook were not allowed to spawn. That represents a huge loss of productivity. Plus, the Kalama River was denied the marine-derived nutrients from those 10,000 adult Chinook. Those nutrients could have helped all Pacific salmon that return to the Kalama River, beyond just fall Chinook. Spring Chinook, coho, and summer steelhead would benefit too.

Had those fish been allowed to spawn, the increase in productivity would be almost immediate. We don’t need to build additional infrastructure or hatchery raceways, or holding facilities or anything else. It’s all there. The fish just need access to the spawning grounds.

According to NMFS, hatchery Chinook spawning with wild Chinook represent a genetic risk to the species, so they can’t allow it. Okay, I won’t argue there’s a genetic risk. But by removing all hatchery adults, they’re ignoring the demographic risk to the species AND to the SRKW’s. Plus, I fail to see how increasing hatchery production, as they are suggesting, does not represent a genetic risk, but I digress.

Those 10,000 adults removed from the Kalama River exceed the broodstock needs of any hatchery I know of. So in this single year on this single river, we are destroying at least one hatchery worth of Chinook productivity based on a potential genetic risk.

At the same time, NMFS wants more money for hatchery production!? Don’t they know that Chinook salmon will spawn for free? Really. We don’t have to pay them to do it. And their offspring will feed themselves, find their way to the ocean, provide food for SRKW’s, and the surviving adults will find their way back home. And they’ll do this without asking anyone for a dime.

So why is NMFS asking taxpayers and ratepayers to spend millions of dollars for something the fish will do for free?

The bottom line is that we can increase the abundance and productivity of Chinook almost immediately, provide additional prey for SRKW’s, and do it at zero cost to ratepayers or taxpayers.

Unfortunately this option is not being considered because of a minor to moderate genetic risk. I find that frustrating in the extreme.

Rant over.
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#1019051 - 12/19/19 01:13 PM Re: Yet another twist in the SRKW saga [Re: cohoangler]
wsu Offline
Returning Adult

Registered: 06/23/04
Posts: 407
I'm no expert, but it seems like 100 years of letting hatchery Chinook flood the gravel has had the opposite effect. Whether that's due to genetics or habitat or a combination of factors, it doesn't seem as simple as removing some weirs.

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#1019066 - 12/19/19 02:51 PM Re: Yet another twist in the SRKW saga [Re: cohoangler]
RUNnGUN Offline
Spawner

Registered: 12/06/07
Posts: 967
Maybe an expert can chime in on this? IMO seems good to me to let them upriver to spawn but, maybe their spawning success sucks, and could be a huge loss? On another note, in reality, are their really any truly wild Chinook left in the Kalama. Since 1895 hatchery Chinook have been produced, when the Fallert Hatchery was constructed. Not until 1959 when the Modrow weir was built was their any attempt to sort or separate fish. That's 64 years of mixed breeding at their leisure. Does it really matter any more? One thing I am curious about the weir at Modrow is how many Summer Steelhead are trapped and released that time of the year?
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"After fishing for Steelhead for over 40 years, Steelheading as I know it is gone in Puget Sound!"
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#1019067 - 12/19/19 03:16 PM Re: Yet another twist in the SRKW saga [Re: cohoangler]
cohoangler Offline
Three Time Spawner

Registered: 12/29/99
Posts: 1514
Loc: Vancouver, Washington
Some answers:

Tule fall Chinook are native to the Kalama River. It's likely the stock they're using as broodstock is the same stock that has been in the river forever.

Last fall, WDFW put 1013 wild adult tules over the weir. A wild tule is any adult fall Chinook in the Lower Columbia that shows up on the spawning grounds with an intact adipose fin. They also caught 507 hatchery summer steelhead and 97 wild summer steelhead during the trapping season (usually early August to mid October).

The concern about spawning success is correct. The spawning success of these fish is dependent on the quality of the habitat. That being the case, my sense is that the spawning success of wild fish and hatchery fish aren't much different given that they spawn in the same places. And the success of their progeny would also be similar since they inhabit the same area of the river, the estuary and the ocean.

And, at the risk of stating the obvious, the spawning success of the hatchery fish that are taken out at the trap, and never make it to the spawning grounds, is zero. My sense is that if these fish are allowed to spawn, their success will be considerably higher than zero.

And that is my exact point.........




Edited by cohoangler (12/19/19 03:17 PM)
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#1019068 - 12/19/19 03:17 PM Re: Yet another twist in the SRKW saga [Re: cohoangler]
Carcassman Online   content
River Nutrients

Registered: 11/21/07
Posts: 5665
Loc: Olema,California,Planet Earth
If you want wild fish, naturally reproducing in the ecosystem and evolving to the conditions as they exist then you allow the wild fish to spawn unimpeded by fish that did not evolve in that environment (hatchery fish). They key here is actually wanting to restore the wild fish by putting them on the grounds. Since listing, how much has the wild escapement in the Kalama increased?

If it hasn't significantly increased since listing, and it should be double or triple (at least) what it was at listing then it seems to me that listing is not intended to restore the listee but to control people's actions in the watershed.

As many have noted, the history on most all out streams is a mongrelization of stocks; Aryan Purity doesn't exist any more. But, if you stop putting in hatchery fish, if you significantly increase the wilds, then what you get is a fish adapted to the river.

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#1019070 - 12/19/19 03:26 PM Re: Yet another twist in the SRKW saga [Re: cohoangler]
cohoangler Offline
Three Time Spawner

Registered: 12/29/99
Posts: 1514
Loc: Vancouver, Washington
It's interesting that over the years, the percent of wild tule fall Chinook returning to the Kalama River has been about 10% of the total run. And this has been the pattern for a long time. For example, the total return in 2019 was about 11,000 adults. 10,000 were hatchery and 1000 were wild. Several years ago, the hatchery returns were 20,000 and the wild fish were about 2,000. This has been a remarkably consistent pattern over many years, and with vastly different run sizes.

But my intent here was not to debate whether or not we want hatchery or wild fish (it's a well-worn argument that I don't want to re-ignite). I'm just saying that if we want more Chinook as prey for SRKW, there is an easy, cheap and quick way to do that. NMFS would just need to reconsider the risks involved.
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#1019073 - 12/19/19 04:33 PM Re: Yet another twist in the SRKW saga [Re: Carcassman]
Larry B Offline
River Nutrients

Registered: 10/22/09
Posts: 2776
Loc: University Place and Whidbey I...
Originally Posted By: Carcassman
If you want wild fish, naturally reproducing in the ecosystem and evolving to the conditions as they exist then you allow the wild fish to spawn unimpeded by fish that did not evolve in that environment (hatchery fish). They key here is actually wanting to restore the wild fish by putting them on the grounds. Since listing, how much has the wild escapement in the Kalama increased?

If it hasn't significantly increased since listing, and it should be double or triple (at least) what it was at listing then it seems to me that listing is not intended to restore the listee but to control people's actions in the watershed.

As many have noted, the history on most all out streams is a mongrelization of stocks; Aryan Purity doesn't exist any more. But, if you stop putting in hatchery fish, if you significantly increase the wilds, then what you get is a fish adapted to the river.


I would add to the last sentence "as it now exists."

The word mongrelization may be overstating the result of hatchery supplementation and especially where hatchery fish are released in basin. And may be more accurate when those releases have been out of basin.

Bushbear on this site has State stocking records for Puget Sound rivers for a number of years going back to the Dept. of Fisheries. The number of out of basin Chinook releases number in the tens if not hundreds of millions of fish. It is important to understand that we are likely not protecting genetically pure aboriginal stocks.

Rather, the push for wild fish is to allow the genetics to evolve with a minimal of hatchery "contamination."

That may be an admirable goal but it is important that folks understand what we have now as well as the end game if they wish to buy into that approach and to establish some metrics as you suggested.

A prime example is the failure to establish a viable wild run of mid Hood Canal Chinook which is one of two stocks contributing to the extremely limited marked selective fishery in Puget Sound. So the question posed is if those mid Hood Canal efforts fail repeatedly should the Governments (NOAA/NMFS and WDFW) continue to try?

Anyway, good post. Thanks.
_________________________
Remember to immediately record your catch or you may become the catch!

It's the person who has done nothing who is sure nothing can be done. (Ewing)

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#1019078 - 12/19/19 05:24 PM Re: Yet another twist in the SRKW saga [Re: cohoangler]
Carcassman Online   content
River Nutrients

Registered: 11/21/07
Posts: 5665
Loc: Olema,California,Planet Earth
There really isn't much "pure" Chinook and coho left. But, as you said Larry, if one believes in natural selection then what is there can adapt is actually given a chance.

I believe that if you let those 10K Kalama fish upstream to spawn for each of the next 4 years, then the ocean and river was managed for a minimum 10K escapement for 20 years then you would have a fairly well adapted Chinook stock. It would be wild, it would be adapting to the Kalama, and it would be better tan we have now.

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#1019147 - 12/20/19 08:13 AM Re: Yet another twist in the SRKW saga [Re: cohoangler]
Salmo g. Online   content
River Nutrients

Registered: 03/08/99
Posts: 12698
Cohoangler brings up a most salient point. I've been thinking for several years that the attempt to recover tule Chinook in LCR tributaries like the Grays and Elocoman is futile because it looks like naturally spawning Chinook in those rivers cannot replace themselves, let alone increase to the point of recovery. The Kalama is a horse of a different color, in that naturally spawning Chinook might very well be likely to replace themselves and become naturally sustaining, although I don't have data to verify that.

That the wild:hatchery ratio on the Kalama has been fairly consistent could well be an artifact of harvest exploitation rates, with little or nothing to do with productivity.

Cohoangler's point is valid though. Even if natural spawners don't replace themselves, they do produce recruits. And like he says, they will do it for free. And they will feed predators. Whether they contribute to recovery is something it looks like we aren't even collecting information about.

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#1019174 - 12/20/19 11:03 AM Re: Yet another twist in the SRKW saga [Re: cohoangler]
Carcassman Online   content
River Nutrients

Registered: 11/21/07
Posts: 5665
Loc: Olema,California,Planet Earth
Has anybody looked at the overall impact that reducing hatchery production in the name of recovery has had on predation losses? Seems to me that if we release less hatchery smolts, but not recover the wild to the point that their production replaces the lost hatchery fish, then we hit the wilds harder.

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#1019182 - 12/20/19 11:21 AM Re: Yet another twist in the SRKW saga [Re: Carcassman]
Tug 3 Offline
Juvenile at Sea

Registered: 03/06/14
Posts: 123
I hope this simple math equation has been apparent to the fish managers in discussions of the last few years, but I'm afraid it has not.

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#1019211 - 12/20/19 03:55 PM Re: Yet another twist in the SRKW saga [Re: cohoangler]
Carcassman Online   content
River Nutrients

Registered: 11/21/07
Posts: 5665
Loc: Olema,California,Planet Earth
Quite sure it hasn't even entered into the "thought" process.

I have wondered that if the Snake River dams are removed, the legal requirement for the Lower Snake River Compensation goes away, as there are no dams to compensate for. So, the Corps does not have to fund the mitigation hatcheries. And those wild fish go downstream with fewer co-migrants to buffer them in the mainstream Columbia.

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#1019236 - 12/21/19 08:34 AM Re: Yet another twist in the SRKW saga [Re: Tug 3]
Larry B Offline
River Nutrients

Registered: 10/22/09
Posts: 2776
Loc: University Place and Whidbey I...
Originally Posted By: Tug 3
I hope this simple math equation has been apparent to the fish managers in discussions of the last few years, but I'm afraid it has not.


Simple concept but as far as an equation I can envision the huge blackboard filled with "if this - then that" factoring. Calculus to the extreme? Head hurts already!
_________________________
Remember to immediately record your catch or you may become the catch!

It's the person who has done nothing who is sure nothing can be done. (Ewing)

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#1019253 - 12/22/19 11:10 PM Re: Yet another twist in the SRKW saga [Re: Larry B]
bushbear Offline
River Nutrients

Registered: 08/26/02
Posts: 4642
Loc: Sequim
Larry B mentioned my files

First, let me be clear that I support the idea of self-sustaining, natural origin spawners. How or if we'll ever get there is the problem. From a WDFW power point, the following observation is telling.....

Observation 1: Roughly 90% of the total run for Puget Sound Chinook is now from late-run populations dominated by hatchery production

Do we truly have a preponderance of the "wild" fish genetics we're spending billions of dollars trying to recover?

Between 1953 and 1987, the WDF et al released over 4 billion salmon into state waters with over 600 streams listed in the 1952-73 stocking records.

The WDF/WDFW have been moving fishing out of basin for over 100 years. They've done fry, fingerling, and yearling plants into waters within driving distance of most hatcheries and many of those fish went out of basin.

From 1980 to 1987, WDF transferred 277 million Chinook eggs out of basin. Puget Sound saw 179.8+ million eggs moved; the Columbia River hatcheries moved 75.1+ million eggs, and the Coastal rivers saw 18.7+ million eggs moved. What kind of transfers occurred pre-1980 and post-1987. We know that eggs are still being moved around - where did the backfill eggs for Minter Creek come from after the equipment failure last year?

The Green River is the poster child for the Puget Sound movement of eggs out of basin. Between 1980 and 1987, over 40 million Green River Chinook eggs were transferred to Chambers Creek, Coulter Creek, Deschutes River, McAllister Creek, Minter Creek, Nisqually River, Nooksack River, Puyallup River, Samish River, Skagit River, Skokomish River, and the Skykomish River.

What has been the impact on Chinook genetics, run timing, and ultimately survival of what were unique stocks before hatchery manipulation? Hatcheries can be used to re-build listed species. In essence, they are a tributary to the river they are built on. It is presumed that most hatchery fish come back to the hatchery, but a percentage don't. If they spawn in the river when their off-spring, whether from WxW, WxH, or HxH pairing, come up out of the gravel with an adipose fin and are considered "wild".

We've seen a steadily declining number of "wild" fish and that decline appears to track the cuts in hatchery production since the mid-1980s. Maybe those "dumb" hatchery fish were what has been sustaining natural spawning populations. Fish will adapt, given a chance.

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#1019254 - 12/23/19 06:58 AM Re: Yet another twist in the SRKW saga [Re: cohoangler]
Carcassman Online   content
River Nutrients

Registered: 11/21/07
Posts: 5665
Loc: Olema,California,Planet Earth
Back in the 90s, I think, WDFW tried to measure the success of Green River Chinokk spawning in the the wild. In the Deschutes. Put up a goodly number of hatchery clipped adults. Got back non-clipped adults. But, the number that came back could be either survivors of the spawning or survivors of the "drops"; those hatchery fish that were not marked.

At the same time, we know that hatcheries have restored wild populations; the White River Springers come to mind.

I do remember way back that some of us bios were wondering if the native PS Chinook were a few Springs and primarily Summers. There is a nagging memory that the Green River stock actually originated in the Green tributary to the Toutle. Records are poor, but those transfers were made, too.

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#1019255 - 12/23/19 08:08 AM Re: Yet another twist in the SRKW saga [Re: Carcassman]
Larry B Offline
River Nutrients

Registered: 10/22/09
Posts: 2776
Loc: University Place and Whidbey I...
Originally Posted By: Carcassman
Back in the 90s, I think, WDFW tried to measure the success of Green River Chinokk spawning in the the wild. In the Deschutes. Put up a goodly number of hatchery clipped adults. Got back non-clipped adults. But, the number that came back could be either survivors of the spawning or survivors of the "drops"; those hatchery fish that were not marked.

At the same time, we know that hatcheries have restored wild populations; the White River Springers come to mind.

I do remember way back that some of us bios were wondering if the native PS Chinook were a few Springs and primarily Summers. There is a nagging memory that the Green River stock actually originated in the Green tributary to the Toutle. Records are poor, but those transfers were made, too.


Ah, the White River springer saga. WDFW has dumped a ton of money into bringing that stock back from the brink but to write that the White River springers have recovered is dependent upon one's definition of "recovered."

Not withstanding all of that State expenditure and resulting increase in adult returns exactly what has the State received in terms of harvest opportunity? Nothing.

At least WDFW acknowledged the apparent impropriety of using PSRFE funds for producing White River springers and repaid that account from another pocket.

But still......how does one define recovery?
_________________________
Remember to immediately record your catch or you may become the catch!

It's the person who has done nothing who is sure nothing can be done. (Ewing)

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#1019259 - 12/23/19 09:27 AM Re: Yet another twist in the SRKW saga [Re: Carcassman]
cohoangler Offline
Three Time Spawner

Registered: 12/29/99
Posts: 1514
Loc: Vancouver, Washington
Originally Posted By: Carcassman
Quite sure it hasn't even entered into the "thought" process.

I have wondered that if the Snake River dams are removed, the legal requirement for the Lower Snake River Compensation goes away, as there are no dams to compensate for. So, the Corps does not have to fund the mitigation hatcheries. And those wild fish go downstream with fewer co-migrants to buffer them in the mainstream Columbia.


The short answer is yes. If the Lower Snake dams are removed, the mitigation hatcheries constructed under the Lower Snake Compensation Plan also go away.

The long answer is yes, over time. The Lower Snake Compensation Plan wasn't fully operational until about 10 years after the dams were built. So presumably, the mitigation hatcheries would be phased out over a similar amount of time, once the dams are removed.
_________________________
MSB

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#1019275 - 12/23/19 03:59 PM Re: Yet another twist in the SRKW saga [Re: cohoangler]
Carcassman Online   content
River Nutrients

Registered: 11/21/07
Posts: 5665
Loc: Olema,California,Planet Earth
Larry, why does a program have to result in increased, or any, harvest? Although WDFW's job is to manage the resources, and their harvest (if there is one). Folks in the marine waters have been harvesting White Rivers. We know Makah does and so there is likely other (NI) harvests. Plus, BC and AK probably get some. So, if no harvest gets back to where "we" can fish them it then becomes a negotiation problem.

Is the value of a resource, whatever it is, only measured in what it gives to us?

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#1019313 - 12/25/19 08:12 PM Re: Yet another twist in the SRKW saga [Re: Carcassman]
Larry B Offline
River Nutrients

Registered: 10/22/09
Posts: 2776
Loc: University Place and Whidbey I...
Originally Posted By: Carcassman
Larry, why does a program have to result in increased, or any, harvest? Although WDFW's job is to manage the resources, and their harvest (if there is one). Folks in the marine waters have been harvesting White Rivers. We know Makah does and so there is likely other (NI) harvests. Plus, BC and AK probably get some. So, if no harvest gets back to where "we" can fish them it then becomes a negotiation problem.

Is the value of a resource, whatever it is, only measured in what it gives to us?


I am quite sure I was questioning the definition of recovery and particularly when those recovery efforts have utilized license fee monies. Taking into consideration limited recreational seasons and size limitations I doubt very many WR springers have been harvested by recreational anglers. It is my understanding that the proximate reason for no open recreational season has been the Puyallup tribe's objection at NOF.
_________________________
Remember to immediately record your catch or you may become the catch!

It's the person who has done nothing who is sure nothing can be done. (Ewing)

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#1019314 - 12/25/19 08:21 PM Re: Yet another twist in the SRKW saga [Re: Larry B]
darth baiter Offline
Smolt

Registered: 04/04/10
Posts: 79
Loc: United States
Yes, very few have been harvested by recreational fishers since WR Springs have not been adipose clipped for almost 20 years.

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