Article Catch and Release Mortality (or lack thereof)

_WW_

Geriatric Skagit Swinger
I have a question. And only applies to steelhead.

I understand the point of a rivers carrying capacity. Is related to how many smolt will live/surive in that water shed.

So if a river has a carrying capasity of 500 fish. How do we get more fish to return to alow better fishing oportunity?

It would seem wise to allow rivers to reach carrying capasity prior to allowing a fishing season. This would help to repopulate the early returning runs.

If that's the case these different wild fish advocacy groups should be satisified.. I believe there talking point is they want so many wild fish returning that we could actually harvest wild fish. This would seem to be an unreasonable goal if our rivers are being fully seeded.

It would seem to me that many Puget sound rivers are way under capasity. My local Puyallup has had a few good returns and poor over the past several years. Yet no fishery.
And there will be no fishing because there is no federally approved plan from the state to conduct a fishery on fish that are ESA listed as "Threatened to become Endangered" It took six years to get the Skagit to re-open and that fishery is now threatened by budget constraints. WDFW has yet to realize the new reality of providing recreational opportunity in these times of wide geographically based ESA listings. Go to the commissioners meeting and keep hammering it in to them.
 
I have a question. And only applies to steelhead.

I understand the point of a rivers carrying capacity. Is related to how many smolt will live/surive in that water shed.

So if a river has a carrying capasity of 500 fish. How do we get more fish to return to alow better fishing oportunity?

It would seem wise to allow rivers to reach carrying capasity prior to allowing a fishing season. This would help to repopulate the early returning runs.

If that's the case these different wild fish advocacy groups should be satisified.. I believe there talking point is they want so many wild fish returning that we could actually harvest wild fish. This would seem to be an unreasonable goal if our rivers are being fully seeded.

It would seem to me that many Puget sound rivers are way under capasity. My local Puyallup has had a few good returns and poor over the past several years. Yet no fishery.
Carrying capacity is not static. It varies based on a tremendous number of variables. Even if there is no human-caused change in the system, the system is dynamic by it's very nature and capacity changes with it. Then there's the carrying capacity of the ocean, which has played a large part in the run numbers over the last several years.
 

Salmo_g

Well-Known Member
I have a question. And only applies to steelhead.

I understand the point of a rivers carrying capacity. Is related to how many smolt will live/surive in that water shed.

So if a river has a carrying capasity of 500 fish. How do we get more fish to return to alow better fishing oportunity?

It would seem wise to allow rivers to reach carrying capasity prior to allowing a fishing season. This would help to repopulate the early returning runs.

If that's the case these different wild fish advocacy groups should be satisified.. I believe there talking point is they want so many wild fish returning that we could actually harvest wild fish. This would seem to be an unreasonable goal if our rivers are being fully seeded.

It would seem to me that many Puget sound rivers are way under capasity. My local Puyallup has had a few good returns and poor over the past several years. Yet no fishery.
Phil,

It would be better to define the carrying capacity of a river basin in terms of its maximum smolt production, slightly different than what you posted.

If the smolt carrying capacity produces only 500 adult fish that then spawn and return another 500 fish, the system is at both smolt and adult carrying capacity where one spawner produces only one recruit (subsequent adult return spawner). One R/S is considered pretty poor productivity unless that same adult population can also be produced with many fewer than 500 spawners.

Making up an hypothetical example here, but when PNW river habitat was in good condition and marine survival was higher, it would not have been out of the ordinary to observe a wild Chinook, coho, or steelhead population of 10,000 returning adults on average. The difference between then and now is that those 10,000 adults produced enough smolts to return a subsequent run of 10,000, or 8,000 could have been harvested, leaving 2,000 spawners that also produced a subsequent return of 10,000 adults. Those 8,000 fish are or were known as "surplus" production, meaning that number could be harvested more or less on average, without harming the productivity of the population.

Presently the average R/S for PS Chinook and steelhead is less than one R/S, portending a continuing declining trend. This is really bad. PS Chinook might produce one R/S if Canadian interceptions were reduced far more than they have been. Absent that, recovery is more likely than not, impossible. PS steelhead R/S have been bouncing around with a few good years, but the overall trend is less than one R/S (with no Canadian interceptions), so recovery remains impossible unless and until the limiting factor(s) are addressed (more likely than not, pinnipeds and avain predators).

IMO, most PS rivers are at their present day carrying capacity for steelhead, since factors like marine survival and pinniped predation are all natural parts of species survival within the ecosystem. Allowing fishing is only a reasonable action if and when fishing is not a factor affecting, or at least significantly affecting, adult fish abundance. Given the status of many of these populations, fishing, even CNR fishing, is not practical under general fishing regulations. Fishing would only make sense within a system of some king of limited entry system. And limited entry doesn't make sense to a great many fish managers and anglers alike.

I don't know what would satisfy the various fish advocacy NGOs (non government organizations). The state and treaty tribes have often stated that "extinction is not an option," and that their goal is recovery to naturally self-sustaining wild salmon and steelhead populations that support harvests. I can agree that is a nice goal, but they ought (IMO) acknowledge the near impossibility of achieving the conditions that would make recovery to those levels actually achievable. Not doing so seems like they're being delusional to me. Or disingenuous.

Your local Puyallup River has had a small number of improved returns in recent years, but on average the returns have been poor, relative to the escapement goal. That, and lack of a NMFS approved resource management plan are the reasons for no fishery. As an afterthought I'll add that the spawning escapement goals of many river systems are no longer realistic if, in the absence of fishing mortality, the populations cannot produce enough adults to meet the escapement goal.

Sg
 
Phil,

It would be better to define the carrying capacity of a river basin in terms of its maximum smolt production, slightly different than what you posted.

If the smolt carrying capacity produces only 500 adult fish that then spawn and return another 500 fish, the system is at both smolt and adult carrying capacity where one spawner produces only one recruit (subsequent adult return spawner). One R/S is considered pretty poor productivity unless that same adult population can also be produced with many fewer than 500 spawners.

Making up an hypothetical example here, but when PNW river habitat was in good condition and marine survival was higher, it would not have been out of the ordinary to observe a wild Chinook, coho, or steelhead population of 10,000 returning adults on average. The difference between then and now is that those 10,000 adults produced enough smolts to return a subsequent run of 10,000, or 8,000 could have been harvested, leaving 2,000 spawners that also produced a subsequent return of 10,000 adults. Those 8,000 fish are or were known as "surplus" production, meaning that number could be harvested more or less on average, without harming the productivity of the population.

Presently the average R/S for PS Chinook and steelhead is less than one R/S, portending a continuing declining trend. This is really bad. PS Chinook might produce one R/S if Canadian interceptions were reduced far more than they have been. Absent that, recovery is more likely than not, impossible. PS steelhead R/S have been bouncing around with a few good years, but the overall trend is less than one R/S (with no Canadian interceptions), so recovery remains impossible unless and until the limiting factor(s) are addressed (more likely than not, pinnipeds and avain predators).

IMO, most PS rivers are at their present day carrying capacity for steelhead, since factors like marine survival and pinniped predation are all natural parts of species survival within the ecosystem. Allowing fishing is only a reasonable action if and when fishing is not a factor affecting, or at least significantly affecting, adult fish abundance. Given the status of many of these populations, fishing, even CNR fishing, is not practical under general fishing regulations. Fishing would only make sense within a system of some king of limited entry system. And limited entry doesn't make sense to a great many fish managers and anglers alike.

I don't know what would satisfy the various fish advocacy NGOs (non government organizations). The state and treaty tribes have often stated that "extinction is not an option," and that their goal is recovery to naturally self-sustaining wild salmon and steelhead populations that support harvests. I can agree that is a nice goal, but they ought (IMO) acknowledge the near impossibility of achieving the conditions that would make recovery to those levels actually achievable. Not doing so seems like they're being delusional to me. Or disingenuous.

Your local Puyallup River has had a small number of improved returns in recent years, but on average the returns have been poor, relative to the escapement goal. That, and lack of a NMFS approved resource management plan are the reasons for no fishery. As an afterthought I'll add that the spawning escapement goals of many river systems are no longer realistic if, in the absence of fishing mortality, the populations cannot produce enough adults to meet the escapement goal.

Sg
Thank you