Another lawsuit (intent to file)

longputt

Active Member
Cherry picking data for an imagined conservation benefit that will never materialize helps no one, and as always the wild fish will be the biggest loser.
I cannot see a path where wild fish win in anything I've read. By the time this studied will there be any wild stock so that a legitimate claim can be made that any run is restored?

Can you restore a run without the exact chromosome match to the original fish?
 
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Riverrat8

New Member
One small adjustment, lower Columbia wild steelhead are not listed under ESA. That said the lower Columbia is a very small ESU consisting of only two rivers and a couple creeks.
Thanks Rob, I did a quick google search since I am less familiar with the Columbia than other regions, but I think you may be confusing Lower Columbia with Southwest Washington populations?
 

Riverrat8

New Member
I cannot see a path where wild fish win in anything I've read. By the time this studied will there be any wild stock so that a legitimate claim can be made that any run is restored?

Can you restore a run without the exact chromosome match to the original fish?
I think the only way is to give the fish a chance on their own, I have faith in the resilience of the fish but I understand why many others don't. I doubt there would be any great abundance since the NF Sky is a small watershed but it could probably support a limited sport fishery.

Personally, I think if we have a self sustaining run without an exact chromosome match we could call it a success, we would just have left our mark on the evolutionary legacy so to speak. I don't care so much about having pure wild fish that are an exact match to pre hatchery periods. I can't tell the difference when I catch them. I do get frustrated at agencies who won't call a spade a spade however.
 

Skeena88

Active Member
It is dubious because they are comparing adult and juvenile data as I stated. And their conclusion runs counter that that of the conclusions of the previous genetic study (Kassler). Kassler found the SF fish were, as he called it, a feral population of Skamania steelhead. He also found NF fish to be significantly different than those in the SF and Reiter Ponds hatchery.

I have not seen a study that says survival of hatchery progeny is essentially zero, there are lots of cases where they interbreed and produce offspring. Klickitat, Clackamas, N and S Santiam, probably anywhere Skamania fish have been introduced they have crossed with native stock. Over time their genes may leave the population, but when you have a stock that may have been founded by Skamania steelhead, what would it go back to?

The SF Sky is a perfect example. They stopped putting Skamania fish above the falls in 2009. The sampled adults from 2014 had a large portion of Skamania ancestry (per the HGMP) so their parents must have been adipose intact, but had a large portion of Skamania ancestry. The value in the HGMP for these fish was .27 Percent Effective Hatchery Contribution (PEHC), but they don't go into great detail about the analysis involved.

There is an easier way to do all this genetic stuff. Puget Sound steelhead have 60 chromosomes, and Lower Columbia fish have 58. All they had to do was run that analysis, not sure why they didn't. My guess is there would be lots of 58 chromosome fish in both tributaries as well as 59 chromosome hybrids. Hard to say if there are any true native steelhead left but Kassler seemed to think so, but there surely are native genetics left in resident fish in these watersheds.

Chromosome counts vary from at least 58-64 in steelhead and hybrids do seem to be viable.
We did some summer steelhead chromosome counts about 20+ years ago in collaboration with Carl Ostberg who was at WSU at the time. We used blood taken from the ventral vein from a very, very small sample of adult summer steelhead captured in the Tolt River. This is in the Puget Sound basin in the Snohomish watershed (same WRIA as the Skykomish River). We confirmed the presence of 58 chromosomes in adipose clipped fish and also the presence of presumably native Puget Sound 60 chromosome karyotypes in unmarked adults. We also found 59 chromosome karyotypes in unmarked fish that were presumed to be F1 hybrids. I say presumed because I don't know what karyotype to expect in crosses and backcrosses of hybrids in F2 generations and beyond. The different karyotypes are known as Robertsonian polymorphisms. We had to grow white blood cells from each fish in cell culture for about a week to get enough cells to do the karyotype analysis. The cell culture requirement places constraints on analyzing karyotypes in a large sample size (unless karyotype techniques have evolved since the late 90s).
 

Rob Allen

Active Member
Thanks Rob, I did a quick google search since I am less familiar with the Columbia than other regions, but I think you may be confusing Lower Columbia with Southwest Washington populations?

It doesn't really matter i think everyone knew what you were talking about. :)
 

Riverrat8

New Member
We did some summer steelhead chromosome counts about 20+ years ago in collaboration with Carl Ostberg who was at WSU at the time. We used blood taken from the ventral vein from a very, very small sample of adult summer steelhead captured in the Tolt River. This is in the Puget Sound basin in the Snohomish watershed (same WRIA as the Skykomish River). We confirmed the presence of 58 chromosomes in adipose clipped fish and also the presence of presumably native Puget Sound 60 chromosome karyotypes in unmarked adults. We also found 59 chromosome karyotypes in unmarked fish that were presumed to be F1 hybrids. I say presumed because I don't know what karyotype to expect in crosses and backcrosses of hybrids in F2 generations and beyond. The different karyotypes are known as Robertsonian polymorphisms. We had to grow white blood cells from each fish in cell culture for about a week to get enough cells to do the karyotype analysis. The cell culture requirement places constraints on analyzing karyotypes in a large sample size (unless karyotype techniques have evolved since the late 90s).
Hey that is awesome! Just read Carl's 1977 and 1983 papers last week. The cell culture probably explains why this isn't done very much. There is another good 2006 paper on steelhead Karyotypes but I don't know enough about genetic methods to really understand how they did the analysis. I will have to go back and look now out of curiosity.

 

longputt

Active Member
Personally, I think if we have a self sustaining run without an exact chromosome match we could call it a success, we would just have left our mark on the evolutionary legacy so to speak. I don't care so much about having pure wild fish that are an exact match to pre hatchery periods. I can't tell the difference when I catch them. I do get frustrated at agencies who won't call a spade a spade however.
I agree with this statement but I do not think there are any advocates for this approaching the NMFS, WDFW....it seems like there is a strong advocacy for "perfect" genetic matches.

To me it is the quest for "perfection" that is turning this into a legal mumbo jumbo of acronyms, Acts, rulings...blah, blah blah...it makes great opportunity for lawyers and fascinating biological "studies", but it dooms the fish. We (man) have a great record of "counting and studying" things into extinction.

We need to accept that we have made irrecoverable changes and adjust our thinking. Then maybe we can go look at the ocean. Bureaucrats love to avoid decisions and let the inevitable happen and let the inevitable make the decisions. That's where this process is headed, as I read it.
 

MGTom

Living at the place of many waters
WFF Supporter
I think the moniker "a pure" fish is a myth. Seems we figured in another thread that the steelhead spawn with or can come from the resident rainbows. And looking at local pit tags and trapping data we get more than a few "strays" from other watersheds supplying new strange.
Our rescue pound mutts have always been heathier and needed less vet time than our expensive pure-bread dogs. Pure fish may have the same problem, and our focus on it may be leading to diminished returns.
And I miss the skamania fish, fall fishing is worthless anymore.
 

longputt

Active Member
And looking at local pit tags and trapping data we get more than a few "strays" from other watersheds supplying new strange.
And because Grand Coulee (along with many other dams) has prevented this for nearly 90 years it is theoretically impossible...stop the insanity! Work for a solution that best matches the environment we have created.
 

JayB

Active Member
You can also use minimally invasive PCR techniques to distinguish which stocks fish come from.

Genetic structure and relationships among steelhead trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) populations in British Columbia​

Heredity volume 86, pages618–627(2001)
  • Abstract
Steelhead trout, Oncorhynchus mykiss (the anadromous form of rainbow trout), are declining over much of their range around the Pacific rim. We nondestructively collected tissue samples from 494 adult steelhead from eight tributaries and two mainstem river sites within three watersheds in northern British Columbia, Canada. We scored allele size for six highly polymorphic microsatellite DNA loci and provide primer sequences and polymerase chain reaction conditions for five of these loci for the first time. The populations were significantly genetically differentiated (θ = 0.039; 95% confidence = 0.030–0.053). AMOVA showed that most of the genetic variation was at the individual level (95.6%), although significant genetic variation existed at the tributary level (3.09%) and watershed level (1.31%). The calculated unbiased genetic distances were positively correlated with geographical distance within watersheds (P < 0.01; r2=0.35) indicating probable genetic equilibrium. Tributary populations in two of the watersheds were not as genetically divergent as would be expected given their large geographical separation. Cross-headwater transfers of fish within relatively recent history are the most likely explanation of this anomaly. Seven of the eight tributary populations fit a regression line of mean heterozygosity vs. rearing habitat area. The one anomalous population had a much lower heterozygosity than expected based on the linear regression, and may thus be the population of greatest conservation concern.
 

Salvy

Been steelhead fishing once
From R. Allen: The biggest current threat is the OCEAN.
I know next to nothing about why the ocean is the biggest current threat. Could someone explain briefly. And the peer-reviewed literature is super-appreciated. Thanks all.
 

Salmo_g

WFF Supporter
From R. Allen: The biggest current threat is the OCEAN.
I know next to nothing about why the ocean is the biggest current threat. Could someone explain briefly. And the peer-reviewed literature is super-appreciated. Thanks all.
I don't know that "threat" is the best choice of words. I think it's more accurate to describe the ocean as the limiting factor controlling adult steelhead (and generally salmon too) population abundance. I don't have the citations at hand, but there are at least three papers describing piniped predation as having a very large effect on the percentage of smolts leaving rivers and reaching PNP and the open ocean. There are a few other papers describing the correlation and apparent causal effect of the huge releases of hatchery pink and chum salmon in SE AK and Japan as limiting the forage available to salmonids like steelhead, which migrate far beyond the continental shelf. And there are references to recent events where ocean upwelling created a severe shortage of nutrients and forage in the coastal nearshore areas of OR and WA at the same times as salmon and steelhead smolts were entering the ocean. There are now enough published papers to infer that these things are very real and no longer speculative. Very depressing.
 

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