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#325848 - 12/29/05 09:56 AM Re: Marblemount Hatchery cut back
Anonymous
Unregistered


RA3: Thanks for the correction. Curtis...you are right!

PLUNKER: I'll be seeing Phil this morning as I need to exchange some waders I got for Christmas. I'll see if I can get any updated intel on the situation. I need to get into that Steelhead Club, I guess.

On our way down to Chehalis for a couple days to see the kids/grandkids. Hope to be able to get a line into the Cowlitz (somewhere) and see if any brats are hanging around.

Back on Sat.

Mike

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#325849 - 12/29/05 12:11 PM Re: Marblemount Hatchery cut back
KerryS Offline
Juvenille at Sea

Registered: 07/24/01
Posts: 152
Loc: Everett, WA
Quote:
Originally posted by Curtis H.:
Part of the problem with north end hatchery returns are the fact that they use those mixed stock, chambers creek fish. I believe if they killed off all those genetically week brats we have these days and started using a new line of fish. Use native brood stock from the system and you will get fish that survive much better, grow much bigger, and are way more aggressive.
They tried using native brood stock on the Skagit and the return was less then the number of fish they used for that brood stock. Resulting in less fish returning then if they would have allowed the captured brood stock to spawn naturally.

The Skagit steelhead hatchery program has been a dismal failure from the very beginning.

Interestingly, some have shown that the collapse of the wild steelhead runs on the Skagit runs parallel to the expansion of the hatchery steelhead program on the Skagit. As the hatchery program was expanded with increasingly larger releases the retuning wild steelhead numbers dropped dramatically.

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#325850 - 12/29/05 12:21 PM Re: Marblemount Hatchery cut back
bank walker Offline
Spawner

Registered: 12/26/99
Posts: 771
The broodstock program sounds like a great idea, but a hatchery fish is a hatchery fish. They pick up domesticated traits in a hatchery environment no matter what type of stock they are. From what ive heard and read, when a hatchery spawns with a true native the offspring are pretty much void.

I wonder how much netting has to do with it, and how much environmental and cultural conditions play a role. It would be nice to remove one and see what happens(hatchery fish)
_________________________
"I have a fair idea of what to expect from the river, and usually, because I fish it that way, the river gives me approximately what I expect of it. But sooner or later something always comes up to change the set of my ways..."
- Roderick Haig-Brown

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#325851 - 12/29/05 12:31 PM Re: Marblemount Hatchery cut back
Smalma Offline
River Nutrients

Registered: 11/25/01
Posts: 2782
Loc: Marysville
Robert -
Thanks for point out the brood stock correction.

Regarding hatch and wild steelhead interactions.

Let's first be clear we are talking the Skagit river hear. Further more the question is not whether the run timing of the two over-lap but rather whether they spawn together in signiifcant numbers (typcially that is placed at between 1 to 10% of the wild fish spawning with a hatchery partner).

In the last 4 years (2001 to 2004) the hatchery on the Skagit completed their egg takes between February 14 and 26). When the hatchery traps have been kept in operation (Skagit, Snohomish) through March they don't catch any hatchery steelhead. The wild steelhead on the Skagit are well known for their late spawning time with the first wild steelhead redds typically seen some time during the second of March. This is different than most other steelhead populations on the west coast where as you point out some may spawn as early as January. On the Skagit there are low levels of wild fish spawning until late April when activity picks up quickly with the peak spawning occurring in mid-May. In the typcial year by mid-April less than 5% of the wild spawning has been completed - to my eye at least that would appear to be temporal separation - you of course are free to argue that even one hatchery fish spawning with one wild fish is to much but that does not change the fact that the vast majority of the hatchery fish spawn well before the first of the Skagit wild winter steelhead.

Regarding your observation of a kelt(s)in May - unless that is in recent years on the Skagit it really does not mean any thing in terms of current hatchery/wild interactions on the Skagit. I have caught wild Skagit winter kelts as late as the 24th of October but that in no way means that I believe that they are spawning into October - in fact the latest observed wild spawning in the Skagit system has been the last week of July a full 3 months earlier).

While I'm ambivalent on the Sakgit steelhead hatchery program I would prefer that the debate be with river specific information.

Tight lines
Curt

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#325852 - 12/29/05 12:42 PM Re: Marblemount Hatchery cut back
cupo Offline
Repeat Spawner

Registered: 06/18/03
Posts: 1060
Loc: north sound
Quote:
Originally posted by Curtis H.:
robert,

you are way off, hatchery fish have very little impact on natives in the rivers that are talked about in this thread. They come in little contact with one another as the bulk of the hatcheries come in dec and early january and the bulk of natives come in march, or even later on some rivers.
What about the rest of their lives? Do hatchery fish compete with wild fish during the juvenile phases of their lives? Do hatchery fish help inflate the number of predators in the system? Hatchery fish help support cormorants and mergansers. Those birds eat wild fish too. Same with seals/sea lions in the salt water.
Is it possible that the hatchery influences water quality? There's more to it than just interaction of spawning adults.
The Skagit gets a piss-poor return for the number of fish they plant anyway.

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#325853 - 12/29/05 04:48 PM Re: Marblemount Hatchery cut back
Salmo g. Offline
River Nutrients

Registered: 03/08/99
Posts: 12791
The Marblemount hatchery steelhead production change is a budget issue. It's not a tribal issue, although the Skagit tribes as co-managers with WDFW, have some say in decision making.

Mike,

It only sucks if the end result is fewer adult hatchery steelhead returns. It may not be, as large plants of hatchery steelhead smolts have not typically produced large adult returns. Since smolt to adult returns on steelhead are so poor, it makes better sense financially to cut back on steelhead production rather than coho, or chinook which are reared mostly for research purposes at Marblemount and not so much as a production program.

The tribes may harvest by gillnet their legal share of the steelhead and salmon resource, but you already knew that.

Those hatchery fish (and wild ones, too) do get hammered out in the salt, but it isn't the gillnets you love to hate so much that's doing it. Unfortunately, neither I nor other biologists know just what is suppressing early marine survival of Puget Sound and Georgia Strait steelhead in recent years. Eliminating gillnets would increase the supply of steelhead for you to fish over, but you really are dreaming if you believe that the actual smolt to adult return rates would be "smashing" or any bit better than has been reported in recent years.

Curtis,

WDFW began using localized stocks of Chambers Creek steelhead on the Skagit and other rivers probably 15 years or more ago in an effort to have hatchery fish that are better adapted to each river's hatchery facilities and river system. Unfortunately, hatchery steelhead return rates on the Skagit have remained low.

Regarding native steelhead broodstock programs in the Skagit basin, it's been tried three times that I'm aware of. Once on the Sauk by Darrington Rod and Gun Club, on the Skagit by the Wildcat Steelhead Club, and on the Skagit by the Skagit System Cooperative. In most cases, the number of returning adults couldn't be monitored to evaluate the results, but some Sauk data were collected by Ted Mueller on the first couple brood returns. The Skagit Coop released their fish in the Baker so returns could be counted at the Baker trap. The first Coop brood return was encouraging because it was four times greater than the Chambers hatchery broodstock return. But it subsequently faltered. Based on three projects covering from 1977 through 1994 or 95, I think it's safe to conclude that those native broodstock return as many, if not more, subsequent generation recruits by leaving them in the river to spawn naturally.

Native broodstock programs can produce positive impacts in some cases. However, I think there is now ample evidence that any such programs should be rigorously evaluated. Most are feel-good exercises.

Grandpa,

The Marblemount hatchery steelhead cutback is a budget issue. The tribe's influence on this was specifically limited to the minor part of the steelhead funding provided by Seattle City Light as part of its hydro project mitigation. Even then, the tribe's proposed diverting some of the money away from the unproductive steelhead program. But the tribe's don't control the decision. A concensus decision of all the parties to the hydro license agreement (WDFW, Tribes, USFWS, NMFS, USFS, and NPS) is required to make any funding shifts of the Seattle money. Seattle's steelhead obligation is roughly the cost of rearing 70,000 steelhead smolts. Because WDFW is efficient at Marblemount (thanks Steve Stout!) they can stretch that to 100,000 or more. In any event, it should be clear that WDFW didn't cave in to the tribes, and that the tribes could, with everyone else's concurrence, only influence funding that affects a small part of the total steelhead program. Therefore, most of the program change is due to a budget shortfall that has nothing to do with Seattle City Light or the Skagit Tribes.

Kerry,

The Skagit hatchery steelhead program wasn't a dismal failure from the beginning. The early years appear to have been very successful. However, that has been typical of many, if not most, hatchery steelhead programs. Unfortunately, only some of them retain that productivity over time. The Skagit was not one of them. The downside as I see it, was not recognizing the collapse of the program earlier. A lot of good money has been thrown after bad. But it's amazing how much public opinion has favored stocking large numbers of hatchery steelhead even if the returns have not justified it. People like to feel good, even if they're throwing money away.

Smalma,

Thanks again. As we have seen, a lot of folks prefer to debate without facts. We're a couple of spoil sports, I think. I'm also somewhat ambivalent about the hatchery steelhead program. Love to catch them, but I'm too tight with money to just throw it away. Worse yet, I've always dreamed of the Skagit as a major summer run fishery. Yeah, I'm ducking before the bricks start flying!

Sincerely,

Salmo g.

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#325854 - 12/29/05 05:30 PM Re: Marblemount Hatchery cut back
elparquito Offline
The Chosen One

Registered: 02/09/00
Posts: 13783
Loc: Margaritaville
Quote:
Originally posted by Salmo g.:
Smalma,
Thanks again. As we have seen, a lot of folks prefer to debate without facts. We're a couple of spoil sports, I think.
Spoil sports? Hardly.

You two have the patience that I do not have, or case to express on this board.

At times, I get extremely frustrated by what I see posted on this board.

I usually have to refrain from posting and tell myself that not everyone on this board got a degree or two in fisheries.

I truly appreciate the effors you two put in on keeping the facts straight and telling the majority of the board how it is.

_________________________

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#325856 - 12/29/05 06:04 PM Re: Marblemount Hatchery cut back
Homer2handed Offline
Repeat Spawner

Registered: 02/06/04
Posts: 1395
Loc: DEADWOOD
A decision will be made middle of next week
_________________________
Brian

[img]http://images.google.com/images?q=tbn:VeLkiG2PPCrjzM:www.bunncapitol.com/cookbook[/img]

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#325857 - 12/29/05 06:46 PM Re: Marblemount Hatchery cut back
Homer2handed Offline
Repeat Spawner

Registered: 02/06/04
Posts: 1395
Loc: DEADWOOD
Quote:
Originally posted by Homer2handed:
A decision will be made middle of next week
Is it next week yet ?

Just received a phone call


They will release there smolts as Steelhead this years; but next year ?
_________________________
Brian

[img]http://images.google.com/images?q=tbn:VeLkiG2PPCrjzM:www.bunncapitol.com/cookbook[/img]

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#325858 - 12/29/05 11:23 PM Re: Marblemount Hatchery cut back
Curt45lc Offline
Returning Adult

Registered: 05/16/05
Posts: 298
Loc: Everson, WA
Quote:
Originally posted by Robert Allen3:
Also the idea of run timing and the temporal seperation of hatchery and wild stocks is 100% false.. I have caught freshly spawned out chambers creek stock fish in MAY!!! They rutinely spawn along side wild fish late in the season. It's also false to assume that wild winter steelhead only spawn in March and April, it is common for them to spawn as early as January!
I was talking about PEAK spawning and running times.
_________________________
"I'd rather eat the barrel of a double barrel loaded shotgun, than listen to that **censored** called pop country music on 98.1" Hank Williams III

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#325859 - 12/30/05 08:44 AM Re: Marblemount Hatchery cut back
Plunker Offline
Spawner

Registered: 04/01/00
Posts: 624
Loc: Skagit Valley
I'm impressed with the knowledgeable and intelligent quality of the information posted here on this subject so far. Especially that from Salmo g, the old relic of fisheries management too stuck in the day to upgrade to O. mykiss. Your vast familiarity with these types of issues and a bit of research allowed you to speculate correctly upon much of what transpired but you obviously have not been privy to all the facts.

With a bit of research I was able to uncover the basic story behind the cutbacks in steelhead production and hatchery employment.

As mentioned, once upon a time there was the Skagit Tribal Cooperative who, in the year 2001, after several years of negotiation with Seattle City Light, the WDFW, US Fish & Wildlife, The Parks and Forest Service, the Federal Energy Regulators, and the entire host of bureaucracies and citizens groups who gather to decide such matters, developed an Instream Flow agreement. That agreement not only provided for improved flows below the Seattle City Light's dams but for several other things including a considerable amount of money for fish and wildlife mitigation on the Skagit including some hatchery steelhead production.

Salmo g - Assuming that you were in the thick of things as usual, I'm guessing that you may have access to a copy of that agreement and possibly able to provide some of the details that the members of this forum might wish for.

Now to continue with the story. Here we are in 2001 with a nice agreement offering all the parties as much as they could negotiate - The dams have an acceptable operating plan - The fishermen have some guaranteed steelhead plants to fish for - The Forest Service, ecologists and Tribe have money for fish and wildlife mitigation purposes - So we can all live happily ever after, or at least for the life of the agreement.

But of course, things are not always as they seem and in this case the happy ending soon develops into a more tragic affair, or more precisely a lack of an affair. The members of the Skagit Cooperative, a marriage of the Swinomish, Upper Skagit and Sauk Suiattle tribes, soon began fighting over management and allocation issues and two years into the agreement the Upper Skagit Tribe seceded from the pact.

Now the Upper Skagit tribe was happy with the hatchery production but the Swinomish preferred to spend everyone's money on habitat so the Swinomish soon went to work to get some of those mitigation funds reallocated.

Exactly what transpired between the Tribe and the WDFW may never be completely known because it was all done in secrecy. For two or more years they negotiated in secret and the WDFW considered their propositions in secret passing in house memos between parties on a need to know basis that were marked "do not discuss" or "not public information" or "confidential". Essentially all parties agreed not to reveal what was happening until after it became a done deal.

And then about a month ago when the deal had been made the information was leaked to a member of the Wildcat Steelhead Club by an upper management source in the WDFW who was privy to the dealings. A couple weeks later Steve at the Marblemount Hatchery was officially informed of the new deal and Wednesday he was forced to lay off one of his valued employees.

What it means in lost hatchery production is a reduction of about 121,000 smolts per year.

So what did the Swinomish Tribe get out of the deal?

The got all the money saved by cutting back on the steelhead production plus the amount saved by no longer employing one hatchery worker plus an added bonus of $55,000 per year that they promise to spend on habitat improvement studies.

So now you know the rest of the story.

Edited to correct a mistaken assumption about the Tribes.
_________________________
Why are "wild fish" made of meat?

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#325860 - 12/30/05 02:39 PM Re: Marblemount Hatchery cut back
Salmo g. Offline
River Nutrients

Registered: 03/08/99
Posts: 12791
Plunker,

No doubt that Iím not privy to all the facts. Any exclusive dealings between Swinomish and WDFW are not known to me. However, anything pertaining to the allocation of SCL fisheries mitigation and enhancement funds stemming from the utilityís FERC license are, or should, be known to me.

I think youíre confusing the 2001 date. SCL first reached an interim flow agreement with the tribes, state, and federal agencies in 1981. The present flow agreement dates to 1990, and became part of the new SCL license when it was issued in 1995. Iím familiar with it because I negotiated and wrote substantial parts of it.

In 2001, the Skagit System Coop (all 3 tribes were members then) made a proposal to the Skagit committee that oversees the SCL funds to divert money from the steelhead program to the chinook program. WDFW opposed the proposal. The committee requested that the state and tribes, as fisheries co-managers develop a joint proposal to the committee. They did so after about 2 years, and the committee approved it. Any request for these SCL funds must be approved by unanimous consent. The subsequent proposal was approved and sends about half the steelhead rearing funds to the chinook program (either for research or habitat improvement). If necessary, Iíll look up the details and report them to whomever is interested, but Iíve got other work I have to do at the moment.

My key message is that no party, Swinomish Tribe, nor any other tribe or agency, can just walk away with SCL fisheries funds. The committee approves specific projects or programs, and awards specific dollar amounts to contract with specific parties, which could be WDFW (often, as they do much of the research and fish rearing) or the Skagit Coop or one of the tribes separately, or the Forest Service, an independent contractor. It depends on the project. The upshot is that the Swinomish Tribe cannot take a chunk of the SCL money to spend as they see fit. SCL only writes checks after all the procedural hoops have been jumped through. And the money only funds projects and programs that the committee has approved.

Itís not clear to me yet that we both know ďthe rest of the story.Ē Iíll check with SCL, the Tribe, and WDFW next week.

Sincerely,

Salmo g.

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#325861 - 12/30/05 03:03 PM Re: Marblemount Hatchery cut back
Plunker Offline
Spawner

Registered: 04/01/00
Posts: 624
Loc: Skagit Valley
Thanks salmo,

I was aware that the first Inflow Working agreement, I think the first of it's kind, was made in 1991 alocating something around $26 million in fish and wildlife mitigation on the Skagit.

I'm told that about 4 years ago (2001) there were negotiations including members of an Instream Flow Committee that agreed upon utilizing mitigation funds for hatchrey steelhead production. That comes from a member of the committee.

Perhaps you can get to the bottom of what all the secret negotiations were all about and how the Swinomish tribe ended up with the hatchery costs saved plus the additional $55,000 to be used for Habitat Improvement Studies?
_________________________
Why are "wild fish" made of meat?

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#325862 - 12/30/05 09:20 PM Re: Marblemount Hatchery cut back
Homer2handed Offline
Repeat Spawner

Registered: 02/06/04
Posts: 1395
Loc: DEADWOOD
Plunker

If you want to know about Habitat work contact SWC or SFEG (I work with both groups) these two groups do a lot of the work up there
_________________________
Brian

[img]http://images.google.com/images?q=tbn:VeLkiG2PPCrjzM:www.bunncapitol.com/cookbook[/img]

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