Closures?

Discussion in 'Spey Clave' started by Eric Tarcha, Jan 6, 2011.

  1. Plecoptera

    Plecoptera Active Member

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2008
    Messages:
    654
    Likes Received:
    52
    Location:
    Port Townsend
    Thanks for the background info Salmo. I see a lot of potential in the system to produce strong steelhead #'s. Much of the upper watershed if full of good habitat, however the major bottleneck (literally) in habitat quality is the lower river. Current rearing habitat is probably a small fraction of what it was before channelization. Steelhead rely on this habitat for juvenile rearing, whereas the 2" Pink fry don't utilize it as much or for as long and wouldn't be effected as much.

    Lowering the bar just because the habitat is being reduced is ridiculous. Thats the the equivalent of just throwing in the towel and giving up. If my company kept lowering it goals to accommodate lower performance & output, we would have gone out of business a long time ago. Eventually in this case it will be the fish going out of business.
     
  2. Plecoptera

    Plecoptera Active Member

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2008
    Messages:
    654
    Likes Received:
    52
    Location:
    Port Townsend
    This would have zero effect on chums. Bull Trout which feed behind redds are typically just consuming the eggs that don't make it in the gravel. The egg drop process it not overly efficient and any eggs which don't make it in the nest and get burried in gravel will drift downstream and die.
     
  3. stilly stalker

    stilly stalker Tuna sniffer

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2010
    Messages:
    1,863
    Likes Received:
    475
    Location:
    Carlsbad, CA
    Agreed. Bull trout have been existing with salmon and steelhead for thousands of years, and there werent issues with it then. And yes, the char are not excavating redds for eggs/fry, only taking what would not have lived anyways. However, when they flank strike females to make them release eggs, thats another matter. Even then though, the release of eggs triggered is a small number, in the dozens at most, and this isnt exactly commn occrrence.
     
  4. stilly stalker

    stilly stalker Tuna sniffer

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2010
    Messages:
    1,863
    Likes Received:
    475
    Location:
    Carlsbad, CA
    Pinks are only in freshwater about 30 days after they emerge from the gravel, chum about 60 days, so rearing space isnt so important as it is for spring chinook and steelhead that spend up to 2 or more years in freshwater before smolting
     
  5. KerryS

    KerryS Ignored Member

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2001
    Messages:
    8,437
    Likes Received:
    4,409
    Location:
    Sedro Woolley, WA, USA.
    I have been essentially saying this for years along with many others that have been saying this for a lot longer than I. It seems so obvious and it is but there lies the rub. No way will we ever give up land on the lower river to improve fish habitat. No way will we make the hard rules for logging and farming in the water shed and one of the biggest issue that most will pooh pooh is there will be nothing done in regards to the 5 dams on the system, ever. Few will even suggest that 5 gigantic concrete plugs in the system have any affect on fish at all execpt the Baker River complex. And some wonder why there is angler apathy. This shit has been going on for years and years but those that make the rules turn a blind eye to the real issues.
     
  6. KerryS

    KerryS Ignored Member

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2001
    Messages:
    8,437
    Likes Received:
    4,409
    Location:
    Sedro Woolley, WA, USA.
    I read the article and I think they took some liberties with the figures although the essence of the article is what is important, surely we are witnessing the disappearance of a species.

    "The facts, figures and numbers cited in this story are from a number of
    various sources. Historic and current escapement numbers for the Situk
    River, Puget Sound and Olympic Peninsula Rivers are from a collaborative
    publication by Bill McMillan and Nick Gayeski at wildsalmoncenter.org.
    Information on the Skeena River was provided by Bruce Hill and Gerald
    Amos of The Headwaters Initiative, as well as Keith Douglas and Jeff
    Vermillion. California and Coastal Oregon statistics are from the NOAA
    Fisheries West Coast Steelhead Review. Upper Columbia Basin hatchery
    Chinook cost estimates are from the Independent Economic Analysis Board
    of the Northwest Power and Conservation Council. A special thanks to the
    Wild Steelhead Coalition and the Wild Salmon Center for additional help,
    resources and information. I would also like to thank Dr. Nathan Mantua,
    Bruce Hill, Rich Simms and Yvon Chouinard for guidance and lessons on
    how to stay sane while dealing with the current steelhead situation."


    http://wildsteelheadcoalition.org/Repository/WSC_State_of_SH_layout_1pp_.pdf
     
  7. golfman65

    golfman65 Guest

    Thanks Kerry...Apologies as I pretty much screwed the pooch on that one...
     
  8. Salmo_g

    Salmo_g Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2004
    Messages:
    9,868
    Likes Received:
    5,444
    Location:
    Your City ,State
    Stewart,

    The native char prey on juvenile fish of all species, including steelhead. If steelhead have any disadvantage in this regard, it's that they are in the river as juveniles longer than the other species, two years typically. That gives steelhead juveniles longer exposure to freshwater predators of all kinds, char included. Char likely have some effect on the steelhead population, but I doubt that char are even close to being the limiting factor. Bird predation is generally quite a bit higher than fish predation over the duration of freshwater residence.

    The char populations have been doing well since the harvest regulations were modified around 1991, allowing retention of only those fish 20" or longer. This allows char to spawn at least once or twice before they enter the harvest fishery. That's strong evidence that over-harvest was previously limiting char populations. But then the popular attitude that char were a trash fish species that should be tossed in the bushes when caught probably didn't help them out much either.

    Golfman,

    The Skagit steelhead genetic project is sampling steelhead, adult and juvenile over several seasons. If they have 4,000 samples, it includes the many juvenile fish captured and sampled from numerous tributaries over the past two years, as well as adults. No way have 4,000 adult steelhead been sampled in a single season. I'll post the data sheets when they become available if there's a believability problem on this.

    Plecoptera,

    While freshwater habitat quality is an issue, I was making a point about how strange it is lately that steelhead smolts at 6-8" in length and 50 to 100 times the body mass of the little pink salmon fry are surviving in the marine environment at a significantly lower percentage than the pinks. A long standing rule of thumb about smolt survival is that SIZE MATTERS. We've got huge steelhead smolts at less than 1% survival and pinks at around 5% or better, and this is all about what happens to the populations AFTER they leave the Skagit River system, exposed to the same early marine predators and pollutions, if those are limiting factors.

    What is rediculous about setting escapement goals that are consistent with a river systems environmental productivity? It's not comparable to a business and its workforce. It's not like the river is lazy and not producing to its potential. The salient issue is that the river's habitat productivity for steelhead (and other species) has been reduced by around 90%. Not changing the escapement goal would be like not changing the production quota for a factory after 90% of it was burned down in a fire. The former productivity simply isn't there any longer, so setting the escapement bar higher is irrelevant, because the escapement goal has only a slight effect on productivity. I say slight because escapement is obviously necessary in order for there to be a next generation. And fish abundance nurtures more fish abundance, but this part of the discussion belongs around the margin, and isn't a core piece. At the core is the inherent ability of the habitat to produce fish, which is influenced mostly by environmental factors of water quality including nutrients, quantity, hydrologic conditions, forest cover, sediment sources type and quality, abundance of other fish, channel morphology, etc. Escapement goal is just a number of fish necessary to seed the available habitat. What we've learned is that there is a lot less steelhead habitat in the Skagit basin than we hoped was still there. And that it doesn't take a very large run to saturate that habitat with fry.

    Sg
     
  9. Smalma

    Smalma Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2004
    Messages:
    3,728
    Likes Received:
    2,323
    Location:
    Marysville, Washington
    Kerry -
    Sorry about taking so long in getting back to you (was at WDFW Commission meeting).

    Regarding the historical average of Deer Creek summers - I have heard the same estimates of about 2,000 fish. After speind a fair amount of time in that basin that seems to be very reasonable guess of typically numbers though as TomB points there may be the odd year when the run may have been larger.

    Regarding the Skagit number - For sure the historic runs would have been larger than 20,000. In the mid- 1980s the largest run was over 16,000; that was with degraded habitat and steelhead virtually eliminated fro the Baker portion of the basin. Don't know if the average would have been as large as 40,000. However for current management the historic numbers hardly matter (except to illustrate what has been lost). What does matter is what the system with its degraded habitat currently able to produce. Escapement goals that are established above the basin's capacity are virtually worthless - they can not be achieved.

    The best information on the recent productive of the Skagit steelhead is from the information from the late 1970s to early 1990s where some decent information is available on the wild run sizes. Durign the period there were 5 years when escapements were above 10,000 wild steelhead and in each case the resulting runs from those escapements was less than the parent escapements. The information seemed to indicate that the average carry capacity of the system (at least during that period) was less 10,000 fish; probably around 9,000. While there could (there were) larger runs when conditions were better than average it was also the case that even with no fishing the long term average escapement would have been less than 10,000 fish. Would it make sense to set escapement goals for management at levels that can not be consistently met even if there were no fishing?

    Please note I was talking about escapement goals for management under current conditions. Goals for recovery or hoped for improved/restored condtions should and would be a different matter and I sure we all would hope that number would be significantly larger. Finally during the same period the data indicated that MSY excapement level was about 4,000 fish. The agreed goal of 6,000 is roughly 150% of the best estimate of MSY. Not many rivers in the State with that kind of buffer.

    I realize that number seems awful low for a basin the size of the Skagit. However we need to keep in mind the young steelhead have some very specific habitat requirements to survive both summer low flows and winter floods. The sad reality on the Skagit is there is very little of that kind of habitat currently found on the main Skagit itself. Most of the steelhead comes from the tribuatries and the Sauk. It is not so much the amount of habitat available to the fish, rather the quality of that habitat.

    One final note on the Skagit steelhead situation. With the current horrid marine survival of steelhead through out the region the current carrying capacity of the basin appears to be less than6,000 fish. This of course explains why the runs are constantly "underescaped". EVen with no fishing the runs will continue do poorly until either marine survival improves or there are subantial improves in the freshwater habitat. Establishing escapements of 10,000 or 20,000 or some other desireable number will not changed the capacity of the river or the ability to see runs much larger than we currently seeing.

    Tight lines
    Curt
     
  10. Creatch'r

    Creatch'r Heavies...

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2004
    Messages:
    2,680
    Likes Received:
    1,723
    Location:
    Mill Creek, WA, U.S.
    Great info. A very interesting read. Smalma, or anyone for that matter, who can I contact regarding questiions about the skykomish and her run of steelhead? I have some questions about current issues and historic info if available. Thanks
     
  11. Slipstream

    Slipstream Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2009
    Messages:
    457
    Likes Received:
    108
    Location:
    Goldendale, WA
    Sean, The WDFW regional biologist is where I would start in your quest for information. The Dept of Wildlife and the Dept of Fisheries (aka WDFW) have been documenting these numbers for a long time. They should have access to all the info you like. SS

    PS To all who have participated in this thread. This is one of the most informational and enlightening that I have read on this site. Thanks to all.
     
  12. ak_powder_monkey

    ak_powder_monkey Proud to Be Alaskan

    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2004
    Messages:
    3,223
    Likes Received:
    112
    Location:
    Eagle River, Alaska
    what the fishing for crumbs article doesn't tell you is how freaky the situk is... It is a freak of nature river, and there is nothing anywhere close to it in Alaska or the world.

    Question: how do they estimate escapement on the skagit?
     
  13. Andrew Lawrence

    Andrew Lawrence Active Member

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2007
    Messages:
    736
    Likes Received:
    103
    Location:
    Bellingham, WA

    Sean,

    If you are looking for information regarding Skykomish River steelhead, you might find these interesting:


    http://wdfw.wa.gov/webmaps/salmonscape/sasi/full_stock_rpts/6117.pdf

    http://wdfw.wa.gov/webmaps/salmonscape/sasi/full_stock_rpts/6125.pdf

    http://wdfw.wa.gov/webmaps/salmonscape/sasi/full_stock_rpts/6129.pdf


    Regards,

    Andrew
     
  14. KerryS

    KerryS Ignored Member

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2001
    Messages:
    8,437
    Likes Received:
    4,409
    Location:
    Sedro Woolley, WA, USA.
    chicken bones and small animal skulls
     
  15. Plecoptera

    Plecoptera Active Member

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2008
    Messages:
    654
    Likes Received:
    52
    Location:
    Port Townsend
    I realize the current escapement is based of the carrying capacity of the watershed, however my concern is that it bends too easily. Going back to the "fishing for crumbs" article, the author points out we are gradually accepting lower baselines as the norm. What qualifies as a "good" return now would have been pitiful back in the 80's. At what point does it stop? If they are content with accepting a shrinking carrying capacity, things will never improve. I realize that many of the factors contributing to the lowering capacity are well beyond the control of WDFW and other state agencies, but I think its time to set the sights higher. Maybe using current goals for recovery or hoped-for conditions as the escapement goals would put more pressure on improvement rather than acceptance.

    Smalma, you mention the carrying capacity in the 90's was estimated at 9000, however the current escapement goal is 6000. What accounts for this difference? Is the escapement usually set at 70% of the systems capacity?

    Also ESA listings came into the scene in 07. I'm not overly familiar with the background of the listing, but I'm curious if any of this was based on the current carrying capacity or escapement goals (of all PS rivers)?