Steelhead fishing in the Upper Yakima

Discussion in 'Steelhead' started by Paul Huffman, Nov 29, 2006.

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Would you like to see steelhead rebound in the Upper Yakima?

Poll closed Dec 13, 2006.
  1. Yes

    56 vote(s)
    71.8%
  2. No

    22 vote(s)
    28.2%
  1. James Mello

    James Mello Inventor of the "closed eye conjecture"

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    Seems to me that fixing the access for the upper canyon would facilitate better access to all anadromous species. Having a reasonable Chinook passage and (if I remeber my history correctly) a sockeye fishery would only *help* things. Just putting one species in over another seems to be a very limited way of management, and IMO doomed to fail in the long run.
     
  2. JS

    JS Active Member

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    It is a hatchery kill fishery that I am against, not regaining the native run of fish.
     
  3. TomB

    TomB Active Member

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    cool, im right there with ya
     
  4. jabseattle

    jabseattle jabs

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    Tom what makes you think this will be not a hatchery @#$%^ fest?

    Yes my buddies have caught Steelies in the Yak but WDWF will screw it up..I'm all about better passage for our fish, but your comment above is out of your ass
     
  5. TomB

    TomB Active Member

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    I stand by my comments. If you read everything i have written in this thread, I make it very clear that i do not condone a hatchery "@#$%^ fest," nor would i consider the introduction of hatchery fish as "rebounding steelhead."

    I don't really see where we disagree. All i want is for the native fish to recover.
    -T
     
  6. James Mello

    James Mello Inventor of the "closed eye conjecture"

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    So a few questions! (and is meant to stimulate discussion, not piss anyone off!)..

    If the hatchery stock were used to "jumpstart" the river, would you have issue with it? How long in your eyes would it take for an introduced strain of fish to become "native" to the Yakima river drainage? Are the genetic characteristics you're worried about something that in your opinion dooms the population, or will time correct it?

    Are there ways to "coerce" the current wild population of trout (which I assume harbor the genetic traits of the original steelhead population) to start to go anadromous?

    Finally, as for wild fish, if the Yakima were go to "the wilds" so to speak, how long until the currently resident fish get wind of this, and take advantage of the now available ocean?
     
  7. docstash

    docstash Member

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    The Yakama Indian Nation is doing all the planting, paid for by BPA and WDFW. They could care less about a hatchery Steelhead program. Look at the Klickitat which they now control. Headwaters are on Yakama Nation Reservation, Yakama Nation now controls 100% of the operations of the hatchery with plans for another hatchery on the lower river to supplement the fall Salmon runs. No more non native hatchery Steelhead plants. Meaning Skamania and Wells Dam plants, which is fine by me. But according to the papers I have read they would need 100% of the native fish to support a hatchery program. So now they plant two non native Salmon species, Upriver Fall Brights from Ringgold, and Coho and in their papers these are for 100% harvest by either us below the fish ladder at the Fisher Hills Falls or them. Craig
     
  8. TomB

    TomB Active Member

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    James-

    evolution is a process that occurs over geologic timescales, not years or decades....yes an introduced run of hatchery fish would be immediately subject to selection favoring fish well adapted to the system, but generally this selection comes as the result of incredibly low survival...in my opinion the genetics do "doom the hatchery population." This gets to your second question.

    O mykiss is a single species, and especially in a system with historical anadromy, the yakima would have summerruns if it werent for the comparatively low survival of anadromous individuals....in other words, anadromous individuals would be more greatly represented in the o mykiss popylation than they are now if there was no survival problem. Hatchery fish would only feel the effects of this survival problem more profoundly.

    To get to your last to questions. By improving habitat, and identifying the factors limiting anadromy, steelhead could once again be present in large numbers. With such an intact O. mykiss population present in the upper basin, it probably wouldn't take too long either. It may be though that the factors limiting anadromous life histories are things we wont be able to change any time soon though, like modified flow regime (agriculture, hydropower), warm water (from land use practices), non-native species (bass and such in the lower river), and the dams which create and exacerbate the above problems.

    Keep in mind that the yakima system already supports one of the healthiest native wild steelhead populations in the upper columbia (or is it considered mid columbia?). Ahtanum (sp?) creek has many native wild summerruns. The difference though is that it joins the yakima very low down, and thus its fish are not subject to the habitat problems that plague the rest of the system.

    Hope this helps.
    -T
     
  9. James Mello

    James Mello Inventor of the "closed eye conjecture"

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    Well, this is where I wanted to target the discussion, as I have a *ton* of questions... I was under the impression that the life cycle of wild populations of fish are measured in the scale of 5-6 years. Given this, how long does it take (in generations, not years) before selection really starts to get going? There will be some residual genetics for quite some time, I understand that, but for random mate selection of traits for a majority of the genes you are talking about, won't they predominate rather rapidly? I can't remember enough of my college days, but I though there was a general formula that described (at least in fruit flies) the number of generations it took to breed towards a specific trait? I know that these fish are more complex creatures and they don't live in a lab, but isn't the formula still valid for natural trait selection?
     
  10. TomB

    TomB Active Member

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    selection is perpetual....how long it takes in generations for a hatchery stock to be well enough adapted to survive on its own depends on many factors.

    -how well adapted was it to begin with
    -is its gene pool sufficiently heterogenous to allow for rapid selection of better alleles
    -how productive is the ecosystem to which it is being introduced

    the list goes on and on. I think the point is though that unless you have ecosystems where a species is extinct, nature will do a better job with whatever tattered remains of a native population it has than we can with hatcheries (i can send you a genetics paper on this). Even where a species is locally extinct, it is likely that repopulation from natural straying will be more successful on a per-fish basis than non-native introductions.

    -T
     
  11. mr trout

    mr trout Trevor Hutton

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    "Originally Posted by TomB
    it is shocking to me that anyone would argue against restoring the native steelhead in the upper yakima. Evidently some people value their personal play over the existence of a native species."

    At some point, all the people who get bent about having native populations have to realize that a fishery is about a lot more than just conservation genetics. Lets face it that fisheries are driven by the human aspects, meaning economics. While having diverse stocks of fish is cool, it doesn't put money in pockets, and citizen joe doesn't give a rip about which alleles the fish on his line has. What about the farmers who need the water for their livelyhoods, who would be in a load of trouble if the river was managed for recruitment of steelhead and salmon runs? Are humans less important than fish? From the sounds of a lot of people lately, it seems like it.
    It is a fairytale world you live in if you actually think that we have the power to restore the world back to how it was, especially in its current state. Conservation efforts are relative to the needs and values deemed important by society. Who's to say that having a great trout river for recreation isn't better than having some steelhead? It is purely a judgement call. "Personal play" is important. Maybe we should take out all the roads in Washingoton, plant trees over them, and hike or ride horses to all the places we want to go. After all, roads are certainly not natural...
    A better solution in my opinion is to keep things from getting worse, and focus more on making the best out of the current situation, economically and ecologically. As long as the system isn't getting worse, or adversely impacting other "important" areas/organisms/etc, Let it be.
    Before you flame me as ignorant, I know all the rhetoric on genetics and conservation that is being thrown around, and I do realize the importance of it. I just think we have to wake up and realize that the world is changed. Facts are facts.
     
  12. TomB

    TomB Active Member

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    im not advocating an attempt to restore pre-settlement ecosystems. Such a view would not only be unrealistic, but fundamentaly misunderstand the dynamic nature of ecosystems....over time there is no steady state. What I do advocate with considerable economic and societal value on my side, is preserving ecosystem function. Collapsed ecosystems generate far less valuable market and non-market flows.

    its fair enough to call me on the "shocking" part, because in reality, of course it isnt shocking. You are right that there are normative implications behind my positions. in many ways though, the upper yakima watershed would benefit from restoration of its native steelhead populations. i believe that restoring native steelhead in the upper river would increase net social utility.

    -T
     
  13. mr trout

    mr trout Trevor Hutton

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    I wouldn't say that the upper river ecosystem is collapsed. Changed... definately. I can agree completely with the value of functioning ecosystems and their importance, but I tend to think that at the scale of the upper Yakima, the steelhead wouldn't provide a significant change in terms of ecosystem function, especially with the upper system as changed as it is by dams and development.
    BTW, I don't mean any of this personally, just for sake of argument.
    Bottom line, I dont think there is a right answer. It all comes down to what people value most.
     
  14. TomB

    TomB Active Member

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    Trevor- don't worry im not taking any of it personally...if you cant tell by now i like to argue too. Depending on how you define ecosystem function, the value of steelhead in the upper river changes alot, but at some point it is all semantics anyway. I like your bottom line....i like to toss ideas out there to offer a different perspective and challenge the way people are thinking though.
    -T
     
  15. Will Atlas

    Will Atlas Guest

    James,
    You asked about using hatchery plants to jumpstart wild populations. While management agencies rally around this as a management tool, there is literally zero examples (except great lakes) where hatchery steelhead (even wildbroodstock) have been used to jumpstart a wild population. The trouble is fish raised in hatcheries arent adapted to life in the wild, eg. breeding, feeding and all the things that make wild fish so wonderful.

    A paper I read on the Clackamas river in Oregon found that while 75% of outgoing smolts were of hatchery origin (wild spawned, these were strays spawning) less that 30% of the returning adults were from hatcheries. Here's what this means. A river has a certain level of productivity, this varies from year to year, but baisically there is a baseline number (roughly) for the number of smolts that can be produced. When there are extremely high numbers of hatchery juveniles, they squeeze out/ overwhelm the systems ability to produce wild smolts. Then, the fish get to the ocean, the few wild smolts that made it, survive at a relatively high rate to adulthood (15% wouldnt be too far fetched) and the hatchery fish die in droves (2% would be considered a sucess). The long and short of it is this. Here in the Northwest using hatchery stock to rebuild wild stocks will never work, because to get viable numbers of hatchery origin fish returning, we often lower the productivity of the already depressed wild stocks. Then the hatchery fish return, spawn in the wild, creating a swarm of less fit, hatchery descendant juveniles. Its a self fulfilling prophecy of failure, but there are still fish swimming in the river and thats what anglers like (I guess).

    As far as the great lakes. Its a whole different story. Most wild spawning populations were estabilshed over generations of straying fish, until eventually they had adapted to their watersheds to a degree. Remember the great lakes are alot smaller pond than the pacific, and the primary piscivorous predator (lake trout) were extremely depressed when salmon/steelhead started flourishing, meaning there was an ecological niche to fill. (invasives do best in disturbed ecosystems).

    Hope this helps clear some stuff up, maybe not. But baisically hatcherys are not a road to recovery, rather further demise.
    Will
     
  16. TomB

    TomB Active Member

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    another thing to add to the great lakes is that steelhead were filling a vacant niche....there were no native steelhead or rainbows there.
     
  17. Richard Olmstead

    Richard Olmstead BigDog

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    Trevor -
    I know that when you asked: "Are humans less important than fish?" you were just making the point that most people think human welfare is more important than nature. However, when it comes to species threatened with extinction, our society decided more than 30 years ago, through Congress enacting the Endangered Species Act, that humans ARE less important than fish. Courts have been consistent in ruling that humans must make sacrifices, including economic costs, to save species from extinction. The ESA has been threatened by politicians in recent years, but the courts remain firm and so far, so has Congress.

    I think most of us here at WFF believe that our society should be sacrificing more than we are to preserve natural resources, and not give in to the argument made by many 'humanists' (if I may stretch that definition) to always put human welfare above that of the natural ecosystems that work so hard to support that 'human welfare.'

    Dick
     
  18. Paul Huffman

    Paul Huffman Lagging economic indicator

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    I'd like to read more about that. Was that around 1995? Did WDFW publish anything on this that I can track down?
     
  19. docstash

    docstash Member

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    Paul it is in the papers published on YKFP.org. Craig
     
  20. Pete Davis

    Pete Davis New Member

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    Dick Olmstead

    I like your philosophy and you speak for me. I find it strange that we speak of accomodating endangered species as making "sacrifices". I do think the ESA will survive into the future-we are going to bury Richard Pombo in January!:thumb:
    PD
     

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