Wild Fish Conservancy - Notice of Intent to sue WDFW

Discussion in 'Steelhead' started by Chris DeLeone, Feb 1, 2014.

  1. sleestak240

    sleestak240 Active Member

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    I've always been curious about the concept of a "designer hatchery". One that moves away from mass producing low-quality specimens in concrete raceways and tries to produce fewer, but higher-quality broodstock specimens in a more "natural" environment. Do away with concrete raceways and create some sort of miniature stream environment with dynamic flow/structure, some amount of natural food sources supplemented by artificial feed...something that produces smolts that are better suited to what really exists in nature while still maintaining some of the advantages of "controlling" the reproduction process. Not sure if anything like this exists in the anadromous fish world or not. It's pretty utopian and maybe the costs would be so astronomical that it just couldn't be done.
     
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  2. Andrew Lawrence

    Andrew Lawrence Active Member

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    I am still somewhat curious as to why the WFC didn’t include the Skamania origin summer run program in Puget Sound tributaries on this list. Considering the fact that they are in our rivers for a much longer period of time, they have a much greater opportunity to stray and potentially interact with wild steelhead. (As a side note, this was not intended as a display of support for, or against the WFC lawsuit.)
     
  3. Smalma

    Smalma Active Member

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    Rob-
    I attempted to post a detailed response as to why I thought hatchery steelhead and their interactions (both at the genetic and ecosystem level) are not a problem on the Skagit in particular and Puget Sound in general; the system gave me a error message and would not allow me to post it.

    You will have to accept that I consider each to the commonly discussed interactions and found due to the temporal spawn timing separation of the hatchery and wild fish and the high spring flows from the snow melt run-off hydrographs they are much of an issue.

    This continued effort to eliminate/reduce hatchery releases on PS rivers has the potential to produce limited benefits that detracting energy or attention from addressing the larger issues is a negative.

    Curt
     
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  4. Cruik

    Cruik Active Member

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    The Nez Perce have a similar sort of idea going on the Snake, but not to the extent that you're talking about. They're still fed pellets, I think, though. Of course, the tribe then plops them down on spawning grounds so that they come back to spawn with wild fish.

    Woah. Good point. Those Skamania summers end up everywhere. They counted over 400 Reiter fish at the sunset falls trap this year. I know they usually drop back down to the hatchery, but I've gotta figure some fall in with a pod of wild fish and spawn in the tribs.
     
  5. Rob Allen

    Rob Allen Active Member

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    My problems with the temporal spawning time separation is that I commonly see hatchery fish in rivers well above the hactheries at the same time I am catching wild fish. Is it uncommon to see hatchery fish outside of the hatchery area or after the hatchery season in Puget Sound systems?

    I believe it to be a rather large problem here on the Lower Columbia.
     
  6. Smalma

    Smalma Active Member

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    Rob -
    Generally speaking the hatchery fish that are likely to spawn in the wild tend to be concentrated near hatchery/release sites but they do stray about the basin to some degree. On my home rivers it long has been WDFW's standard to assume that those unspawned hatchery fish scatter randomly throughout the basin (more or less distributed much the same as the wild fish). Such an assumption assure that errors will be on the side of the wild fish (over estimates the potential interaction).

    Unless one is fishing on active spawning fish see both hatchery and wild fish in the same water does not mean that the two are actually or potentially spawn together. For example on the Skagit system one might in mid-January catch both hatchery and wild fish from the same water. However the hatchery fish will have completed its spawning with days to a few weeks while it may well be the case that wild fish would not spawn for another 2 to 5 months (onset of wild spawning is early March and continues well into July with peak activity in mid-May).

    The key point here one needs to really evaluate the situation for each river/area based on the specifics of that situation. While on rivers like the Skagit the hatchery and wild spawners are well temporal separated that is not the case on at some of the coastal streams and may not be the case down your way.

    I could never understand how anglers can so readily accept that each wild population is unique with its own characteristics determined by the natural selection process of that populations habitat yet ignore those same differences when trying to evaluate such complex issues and hatchery/wild interactions.

    Curt
     
  7. Rob Allen

    Rob Allen Active Member

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    I see what you are saying Curt our rivers close March 15 through April 15 so I don't get the opportunity to see what is around during that time but it really bugs me when i catch quite a few spent hatchery fish when it opens up again in April. If my knees were better i'd so surveys like I used to because as far as I know WDFW is not doing much to determine how many hatchery fish are spawning in the wild. I know from my surveys on the Washougal that it used to happen quite a bit particularly on small tribs where the wild population may only be a dozen fish in a great year. a few hatchery fish spawning with wild fish in that scenario can be devastating. I think we greatly underestimate the importance of these micro populations
     
  8. Bob Triggs

    Bob Triggs Stop Killing Wild Steelhead!

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    I think that we can point to the upper Sol Duc river wild steelhead protection areas as a good example of an affordable alternative.
     
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  9. hookedonthefly

    hookedonthefly Active Member

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    Curt and Salmo,
    I am seriously not trying to get into kicking each other below the belt contest. It appears that you both remain relatively emphatic that there is little to no adverse impact from straying hatchery steelhead on our natives in the Skagit watershed; yet, the statistics below would tend to indicate that there is a greater than acceptable level of hatchery/native interaction.

    I am simply trying to understand the data that was collected and the findings that were published; and, why your opinions differ. I would greatly appreciate you elaborating on why these findings are incorrect, invalid or don't matter.

    Ecological, Genetic and Productivity Consequences of Interactions between Hatchery and Natural-Origin Steelhead of the Skagit Watershed, March 2013. Funding Number: NMFS - FHQ- 2008 - 2001011.

    Table 27 - Juvenile steelhead sampling introgression statistics:

    Upper Skagit - 23.9%
    County Line Ponds - 13.5%
    Goodell Creek - 19.3%
    Bacon Creek - 21.4%
    Diobsud Creek - 17.0%
    Cascade River - 12.2%
    Finney Creek - 32.7%
    Grandy Creek - 30.3%
    Sauk river - 6%
    Suiattle - 15.3%

    Thanks in advance for your time.
    Best,
    Ed
     
  10. Chris Bellows

    Chris Bellows Your Preferred WFF Poster

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    If this is the Johnson Creek program, be careful touting it without digging deeper into the study. The study was deeply flawed and it is a shame that it is being touted so heavily among pro-hatchery folks (like in the Hatchery and Wild video) since it doesn't show what they think it does.
     
  11. Smalma

    Smalma Active Member

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    Hookedonthefly -
    Great question/issue!

    By way of background introgression between hatchery and wild steelhead occur when the two interact on the spawning grounds (exchange genetic material). The amount of introgression found is strongly influenced by the ratio of the hatchery and wild fish on the spawning grounds (the higher the portion of hatchery the more high/wild crosses) and the length of time the two populations have to interact. That sound reasonable???

    Over the last 50 years genetic analysis 4 different sample collections have been done - collections from the 1970s, '80s, '90s, and the most recent one. While different genetic tools were used the genetic profiles of those 4 collections were very similar. One of the more interesting findings in the recent study you refer to was a comparison between genetic profiles from the wild steelhead scale samples collected in the early 1980s and those during the latest sampling effort. The resulting genetic profiles were very similar. That is the portion of the "hatchery genes" or the degree of introgression in each were nearly the same.

    The issue becomes when we look a little deeper in the mechanics of those matings. The wild steelhead brood years that produced the adults that were sampled in both early 1980s and the most recent efforts were approximately the same size. However the hatchery runs in the two periods were significantly different. There were 4 or 5 times as many hatchery fish in population in the earlier sampling. In addition due to efforts by WDFW the temporal over lap pre-1985 was at least 2 months longer that it is today. As a result I would estimate that there were 10 to 20 times more hatchery fish interacting with the same number of wild in the 1980s than during the latest collection. Both samples were tested with the same genetic tools.

    How can it be that degree of introgression be the same for those two collections with such a dramatic differences in the numbers of hatchery/wild crosses?

    Curt
     
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  12. Smalma

    Smalma Active Member

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    Hookledonthefly -
    I have split my response to assure that I avoid the dreaded error message when I attempt post my reply (also builds my post count -lol).

    The answer to question I asked in the post above is that under the conditions described some more than introgression may be going on. What the process that is producing those "hatchery markers" in those wild samples has been the center of debates for the last two decades. If those "markers" aren't the result of introgression how do they appear in the wild fish. An alternate theory has been that because the Chambers Creek fish and the various wild steelhead populations are all Puget Sound stocks and as such share some similar genes. The similarity (shared "hatchery genes" between say the Skagit wild fish and the Chambers hatchery may be no more than a measure of the relatedness of the two population. If the introgression theory is illogical than the alternate theory becomes more likely.

    In fact more and more emerging research is indicating that what some have thought to have been introgression between hatchery and wild fish on the Skagit may well be the shared genetic history of the two populations.

    I have also been a fan of pulling together all the information possible in considering an issue and then give any findings the final test of "does it make sense". In this case the "introgression theory" does not seem to make sense - it does not fit what we know.

    A word of caution we have been talking about the Skagit situation which has many unique and critical characteristics that are important to this discussion. While it may be reasonable to apply those results to other north Puget Sound basins the further a field one goes the more cautious one should be. The situations on the coast or SW Washington maybe (and even probably) different.

    Curt
     
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  13. Rob Allen

    Rob Allen Active Member

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    Do they do spawning surveys on the tribs to the Puget Sound rivers?..

    Introgression is the least of my concerns. What concerns me is the more direct results of hatchery/ wild pairings resulting in no offspring at all due to the inability of the hatchery fish to reproduce in the wild.





    Someone mentioned the Nez Perce study and that study was very clear. They were able to make a single generation boost to that wild fall chinook population. That is all nothing more. nothing less.

    also those chinook did not have the same reproductive success as the wild fish, particularly the males.
     
  14. Chris Johnson

    Chris Johnson Member: Native Fish Society

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    Curt,

    If it were a measure of relatedness and not introgression, then how do you explain the wide variation of numbers that
    Hooked' posted? It seems to me those numbers would be more uniform.
     
  15. Smalma

    Smalma Active Member

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    Chris -
    Remember that each of those sampled areas are themselves sub-sets of the total population. It is to be expected that with that number of samples there will be quite a bit of variation between the samples with the "average" something around the population average.

    Think about flipping a coin. Wew know that there is 50% chance of flipping a head. If we flip the coin 10 times we expect something close to 5 heads however each time we flip the coin 10 time we may see something different that 5 heads. I just flip a coin 10 times recording the # of heads and then repeated the process 10 times. Out of the 100 total flips I got 49 heads; about what we expected. However the number of heads in each 10 flip sub-sets varied from a low of 1 to a high of 7. Just a simple example of the random forces that are in play in developing the numbers in Hookedonthefly post.

    Curt
     
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