Chambers creek steelhead video

Discussion in 'Steelhead' started by Cole L, Apr 20, 2014.

  1. Chris Johnson

    Chris Johnson Member: Native Fish Society

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    Isn't the time a male can effectively spawn much longer than female fish, and would that not increase the chance of overlap?
    If you use the 10% figure, even with low survival that's 25,000 residents taking space and using limited resources every year.
     
  2. HauntedByWaters

    HauntedByWaters Active Member

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    The production problem is the lower river/estuary/nearshore habitat in its degraded state, these fish spend a lot of time here and it is the most impacted ecosystem within their lifecycle. And the juveniles are especially vulnerable here as they transition to a saline environment with a completely different ecosystem/foodchain.

    And than there are dams.....

    I believe the influence of hatchery steelhead pales in comparison to that of environmental degradation.
     
  3. Cruik

    Cruik Active Member

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    Maybe this is a stupid question, but wouldn't residualized hatchery smolts be just as likely to return to the hatchery when mature as their sea-going counterparts? I understand hatchery adults stray from the terminal hatchery areas to spawn with wild fish, but why would residualized fish be any more likely to ignore the imprinting from their natal stream (hatchery intake)?
     
  4. _WW_

    _WW_ Geriatric Skagit Swinger

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    ...and I would think that mother nature is going to do what she always does - cull the weak and unfit from the herd, no matter what their genetics, or possibly because of their genetics.

    Pretty ironic that Chambers Creek fish were part of the Puget Sound DPS (I think). So was the Skagit. So this genetic similarity is close enough to consider them all as threatened, but not close enough to let them interbreed and let mother nature select the fittest? Somebody seems to want to have it both ways!

    What's up with that?
     
  5. _WW_

    _WW_ Geriatric Skagit Swinger

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    I'm just trying to imagine this one ripe, randy, old male steelhead swimming around with full gonads from January to May!
     
  6. Skeena88

    Skeena88 Member

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    ww, Chambers Creek steelhead are not aprt of the DPS. See https://www.federalregister.gov/art...sting-determination-for-puget-sound-steelhead

    The Puget Sound steelhead DPS includes more than 50 stocks of summer- and winter-run fish, the latter being the most widespread and numerous of the two run types (Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), 2002). Hatchery steelhead production in Puget Sound is widespread and focused primarily on the propagation of winter-run fish derived from a stock of domesticated, mixed-origin steelhead (the Chambers Creek Hatchery stock) originally native to a small Puget Sound stream that is now extirpated from the wild. Hatchery summer-run steelhead are also produced in Puget Sound; these fish are derived from the Skamania River in the Columbia River Basin. The majority of hatchery stocks are not considered part of this DPS because they are more than moderately diverged from the local native populations (NMFS, 2005). Resident O. mykiss occur within the range of Puget Sound steelhead but are not part of the DPS due to marked differences in physical, physiological, ecological, and behavioral characteristics (71 FR 15666; March 29, 2006).
     
  7. TallFlyGuy

    TallFlyGuy Adipossessed!

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    Curt,
    A couple assumptions/presumptions that have to take place with regard to Chambers Creek fish and the sneaker phenomenon…
    1. All smolts released cannot and will not spawn in months other than Dec – Jan. (non overlap)
    2. All smolts released cannot and will not be sexually mature when released and will not become sexually mature for another year or more.
    3. All smolts will not and cannot spawn/mate with wild fish because wild fish only spawn in months other than Dec-Jan.

    Can anyone say for certain that these three things are absolutes, and these assumptions are not happening, have not happened, and will not happen? With the release of 250k fish and on average 10% rate of residualism, that puts 25k fish per year in the river. That is just one year. Compound this year after year and the probability of sneaker fish and wild fish introgression must increase drastically. With steelhead being very diverse and resilient, I do not think we can pigeon hole them to absolutes.

    Another thing to throw into the equation is the historical timing of hatchery fish being stocked into the Skagit. Has it always been 250k fish in years past, and has the stocking time in early May always been the timing of release of hatchery smolts? I figure you know this and will save me the time of trying to go and look it up. That all being said, there is the risk of hatchery fish/smolts introgression taking place, which is why the timing is what it is. The idea is trying to “minimize” the overall risk of hatchery/wild fish introgression. So in theory it should work, but with all the variables and numbers of fish in the rivers doing who knows what, and Mother Nature throwing curve balls at us, there seems to be no absolutes.

    With regard to hatchery smolts posing risks on wild fish and the sneaker fish phenomenon, this is just one drop in the bucket of risks and dangers hatchery smolts residualizing in rivers pose on wild fish. More risks would include competition for food, and helping predator populations improve with the release of thousands of hatchery fish. Sure the survival rate might be low, but just like the number of hatchery fish returning from the ocean, I believe hatchery residualized smolts also survive in the rivers and streams. Perhaps most of what I have tried to say here can be summed up and more eloquently communicated in the following paragraph.


    A primary concern about the effectiveness of steelhead Oncorhynchus mykiss hatchery programs is the residualization of released fish (Viola and Schuck 1995; McMichael et al. 2000). Residualization is the process whereby juveniles (smolts) fail to emigrate seawards within the primary migration period (Viola and Schuck 1995). These individuals are termed residuals and represent a potential economic loss in terms of adult returns. They may also cause adverse ecological impacts, as steelhead residuals are believed to compete with (McMichael et al. 1997) and prey upon (Cannamela 1993; Martin et al. 1993) wild fish and may eventually mate with (Viola and Schuck 1995) them (Ostrand 2008). Though hatchery residuals are thought to suffer high mortality rates in the wild (Ostrand 2008), their larger size (Walters 2005) and aggressive behavior (McMichael et al. 2000) likely intensify their per-capita impact on wild populations (Viola and Schuck 1995). A majority of studies on hatchery steelhead residuals have therefore focused on methods to reduce the rate of residualization and on factors that can be directly controlled by hatcheries



    http://www.researchgate.net/publica...eelhead_A_Meta-Analysis_of_Hatchery_Practices






     
  8. _WW_

    _WW_ Geriatric Skagit Swinger

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    I see...you win on a technicality! :)

    I wonder if the part in red could be used to pull the Skagit steelhead from the DPS - they are surviving and plentiful while the others are not...sounds like a behavioral characteristic.
     
  9. _WW_

    _WW_ Geriatric Skagit Swinger

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    A few weeks ago, Curt and I were having a discussion about predators and the release of hatchery smolts. During this Curt recounted the numbers of Salmon smolt numbering in the (I think) tens of millions in the Skagit alone, and the relatively small number that these extra steelhead smolt are when viewed in this context.

    Perhaps he could recount his portion of that conversation here...
     
  10. Smalma

    Smalma Active Member

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    Chris Johnson -
    Yes it is indeed the case that male steelhead have a more protracted spawning time than the females. That said the period that those males actually remain viable spawners is shorter than many think may be the case. In the Saltonstall-Kennedy Skagit steelhead study that we all discussed some time ago the radio tagged wild steelhead had vacated the spawning areas on the average within 28 days of spawning. It probably is the case when those fish left the spawning area they were no longer viable spawners. However in keeping in trying to assure that we err on the side of the wild steelhead I will assume that some males (a small portion of the total population) remain potential viable spawner for 6 weeks after the last female has spawned. In the case of Chambers Creek males that would mean the latest there would be a viable spawer would be mid-March. A timing such that there would only be a fractional of a percent chance of a hatchery fish spawning with a wild fish.

    Just for fun let's look at the real world and see if that 6 week period is a reasonable assumption. As we know in North Puget Sound rivers wild winter steelhead spawn into July. Using mid-July as the date of the last female spawner we would expect to see viable male spawners through August. If the males were viable longer than that as some to think that would mean those viable males would still be in the river looking for mates after labor day. Wonder how many of you have caught such a fish in September (remember in rivers like the Skagit the wild fish are much more abundant than hatchery fish) so those late spawning should be much more common than late spawning hatchery males. I suspect like me that answer to the number of viable male wild spawners that you have encountered in late August or September is zero!

    Why would we assume that hatchery fish would be viable for longer periods than the wild fish?

    HauntedByWaters-
    For our anadromous fish in general the quality of the habitat of the estuaries and near-shore marine waters is hugely impact and rightly so remains a high prior of protection and recovery. That said there is no anadromous salmonids that is less dependent on that habitat than steelhead. Steelhead only use the estuary area as a transportation area to move from the river to the salt and back. In their 4 or 5 life they like spend only 4 or 5 days in the estuary of our rivers. Likewise as smolts (some of the largest in the basin) they move quickly off shore in deeper water for feeding and migration paths to the open ocean. It is interesting that on the Skagit the two species that are highly dependent on those estuary and near-shore habitats are sea-run cutthroat and bull trout. Both of those species (as well pink salmon) may be the robust populations in the basin.

    Cruik -
    Great point. There is no reason that those few residuals that survive that first year in the river that some would become smolts and migrate to the salt and some others that survive until maturity return to the hatchery rather than spawning in the wild. However in these kinds of discussions the tendency is to ignore such behaviors because by assuming that those survivors spawned in the rivers is consistent to be erring on the side of the wild resource.

    Curt
     
  11. Smalma

    Smalma Active Member

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    TallFlyGuy -
    Can we be absolutely sure that there are no interactions; of course not. The real question are those frequency in which those interactions like to be producing significant interactions? Or if you will it becomes a risk assessment game. I argue that the very limited nature of those inactions do not represent a significant risk and attempted to show why I feel that way.

    Not sure how much hatchery active/history you are looking for. There has been hatchery steelhead activities in basin like the Skagit for more than a century. I can certainly summarize that history though I'm not sure how relevant that would be. The evolution of the steelhead hatchery program has been of constant adaption and evolution with the critical factor being what has happened in recent years and is expected in the immediate future.

    Let's take a closer look at what having 25,000 non-migrating smolts might be. First let's remain for more than 60 years in the Chambers Creek steelhead program any fish that mature early or did not migrate and return form the salt have been severely selected against - they are not included in the brood stock. This is much different than integrated programs like that of Little Sheep Creek where wild fish are incorporated annually into the brood stock. That alone may explain why frequency of male mature smolts in such programs are higher than in programs like Chambers. By any out of 25,000 fish that did migrate I would expect at least 90% would be gone within months of release (on water observations seem to support that). That would mean that going into the winter there might be 2,500 of those fish still left. For wild fish over winter mortalities are in the 50% range. Going into that second summer we would be looking at 1,250 hatchery parr. For the wild steelhead population where best guess puts the average number of wild smolts something in the 100,000 to 150,000 per year or about 200,000 to 300,000 parr per year.

    That means only a 0.5% of the steelhead parr would be of hatchery origin. Is that excessive? That is each of our calls though that estimate is mostly likely on the high side. On continue that math exercise to the end point of any survivors interacting with wild spawners but that becomes such a low number to essentially be meaningless (though to be fair there could be a fish or two). I agree with your assessment that such impacts are a drop in the bucket compared to other potential hatchery/wild interactions.

    Curt
     
  12. Smalma

    Smalma Active Member

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    In the video the second major Chambers Creek impacts discussed was the attraction of an artificial number predators to the system. Since both WW and TallFlyGuy have also mentioned this issue let's take a closer look at this issue. Again I will focus on the Skagit and will talk in rough round numbers for this year's smolt out migrations in the basin. As we all know the current Chambers Creek smolt release target is 239,000.

    Every spring in the Skagit between the wild steelhead, sea-run cutthroat, and bull trout smolts leaving the river is roughly the same as the hatchery release.

    The number of sub-adult and adult sea-run cutthroat and bull trout leaving the system is roughly 1/3 to 1/2 of the hatchery steelhead release.

    The number of hatchery Chinook and coho smolts leaving the system is 2 or 3 times of the numbers of hatchery steelhead releases.

    The number of Baker sockeye smolts leaving the system is roughly 3 times the number of hatchery steelhead smolt #.

    The number of wild coho leaving the system is typically 4 or 5 times the number of hatchery steelhead.

    The number of wild Chinook migrants leaving the system is typically 8 to 10 times the number of hatchery steelhead.

    The number of wild chum likely will be 4 times of the number of hatchery steelhead.

    The number of wild pinks will be in the 40 to 80 times more numerous that hatchery steelhead.

    In other words there will be pretty good numbers of salmonids (the majority of which are wild) migrating out the basin this spring.

    In terms of attracting predators we probably should consider a couple of the other native species that can be fairly common in the basin. In the tidal section of the river there are surprising numbers of peamouth chubs and every year at this time there is a run of smelt spawning in the lower forks of the Skagit (some years the numbers of smelt are significant - most of which die after spawning and provide significant foraging opportunities). In addition there are quite few whitefish to be found through out the Skagit and Sauk.

    Can any one say that whether the hatchery steelhead programs continues or not there would be significant difference in the forage base supporting potential predators?

    Curt
     
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  13. TallFlyGuy

    TallFlyGuy Adipossessed!

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    Curt,

    From what I understand the Skagit is “healthy”, proportionately speaking, when compared with other rivers up and down the WA coast in regard to winter steelhead. Historically speaking, it is a mere fraction of what it once was, and should be considered on its death bed. This turns up a couple question as to smolts and the total amount outgoing from steelhead and other salmonid. Is the total number of smolts heading out to the ocean the same amount of smolts as back when the Skagit had epic/mythical steelhead runs? Are ocean conditions and smolt survival to blame? If 25-50% of those smolts heading out survived and returned, we would have runs of epic proportions.

    From the limited amount of research I have come across, when biologists radio tagged smolts, both hatchery and wild, on average 80% survived the out migration, but once they hit the salt, the survival rate dropped through the floor. I don’t think those fish are just dropping like rocks from poisoned water or pollution etc. My opinion/theory is the seals, larger fish, cormorants, and other predators are eating/feeding on hatchery fish mixed in with wild fish.


    We have hatcheries dumping millions upon millions of smolts into the many rivers that dump into the sound and then to the ocean. I really don’t see how dumping millions upon millions of “artificial” smolts, into the ocean is going to have a positive ecological impact. The only survival skills these fish have are linked to overpopulation and cement tanks, void of natural predators, and daily being fed “manna” from the sky. The survival rate of those fish returning as adults is diminishing down to less than .05% in some cases. Sure some might die from natural causes (freshwater to salt), but my guess is the majority of them are being eaten out in the salt. If they are not dying from predators, then the next logical explanation is a lack of food. If that’s the case, again, the problem points back and is rooted in the hatchery problem because then we have too many fish trying to compete for a limited supply of food. It seems all roads lead back to the hatcheries being part of the overall problem.

     
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  14. _WW_

    _WW_ Geriatric Skagit Swinger

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    Why is that?

    When was that exactly? And where is the evidence that the numbers were epic? Perhaps that is the myth?

    I think the next logical step is that mother nature is trying to select fish that thrive in concrete tanks out of the equation...by several different methods.

    What if that is not the case?
     
  15. Smalma

    Smalma Active Member

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    Since yesterday I have been thinking a bit more about Cruik"s question of about whether we should expect mature residuals to return to the hatchery. While it is always dangerous when I start thinking about things and my thoughts often end up weirdly the more I thought about it the more I think he hit on a very important point. We know both anadromous and resident O. mykiss have demonstrated a strong tendency on reaching mature of returning to their "natal" home. We should expect maturing "residuals to do the same.

    Any steelhead smolt residuals upon reaching maturity should be in that 14 to 18 size range or about the size of steelhead "jacks". Fortunately most of the hatcheries have both the ability to trap and keep track of the numbers of "jacks" returning (and captured) at various hatchery facilities. While the number of "jacks" returning to a steelhead hatchery would likely include true "jacks" and residuals the raw counts should provide us with the opportunity to look at the magnitude of the numbers of residuals surviving to maturity. Based on comments seen this and other discussions the range of residuals potentially reaching maturity ranges from 1,000s to 100s or if they survive at the rate of their anadromous siblings maybe dozens with the hatchery rack counts providing us insights into where in that range where the numbers might actually fall.

    To explore those numbers I visited WDFW's hatchery escapement reports for the last 5 years at looked at the total adult returns as well as the "jack" numbers for both the Skagit and Snohomish systems (by far the two largest Chambers Creek programs in Puget Sound). What I found is that over the last 5 years 1,096 adults and zero "jacks" where trapped on the Skagit and 5,064 adults and 1 "jack" was trapped on the Snohomish system. I will leave it to the reader to decide what sort of survival to maturity rates those residuals are experiencing.

    Curt