The Native Fish Society under attack

Discussion in 'Fly Fishing Forum' started by GAT, Jun 23, 2013.

  1. after decades of hatchery management, our wild coho stocks are still larger than hatchery runs in puget sound and the coast (check the 2013 forecasts). the same goes for pinks and chums. chinook are a different matter. it also looks like the wild winter steelhead runs are producing more fish than the hatchery system in puget sound and the coast.

    hatchery fish do not reduce impacts on wild fish, as most saltwater and commercial fisheries are mixed-stock and non-selective. ask early-run wild winter steelhead runs how hatcheries have reduced the impact on them.

    harvest is based on the number of fish available to harvest, not a fixed number. wild fish cannot be harvested at the same % rate as hatchery fish so when fisheries are targeting hatchery fish the rate is higher for the co-mingled stocks as well. over-harvest is tied to hatcheries.
  2. negotiating from a compromised position won't result in much real change.

    Really - so I stated I supported stopping the Steelhead hatchery on the Skagit system, but not the Cowlitz. I understand strays, but think that a system like the Cow is too far gone to get "rehabilitated" to have strong wild runs - but taking the hatchery fish out of the Skagit will result in much real change - Really?? .............Come on Chris
  3. i wasn't saying we as individuals cannot compromise to some extent to get things done, but i was commenting on your statement that the pro-fish groups should be less rigid and compromise. they are negotiating with agencies who never saw a hatchery that shouldn't be run at full production. if you negotiate from the middle, the middle then moves to a very pro-hatchery position, not truly compromised middle ground. that negotiated position would be much more pro-hatchery than either of us would want.

    compromise is a necessary thing, but coming to the table already compromising before negotiating doesn't work in your favor. if i want to buy a car listed at 18K for 15K, i don't make the first offer for 15k.
  4. The level of introgression is sure high on some of the Skagit/Sauk tributaries. Certainly more than that 5% number.
  5. Yes Ed that was pointed at Chris - I believe that taking the hatchery component out of the Skagit will have some return. Taking the Skagit hatchery out of the Skagit WOULD do some good - but we all know that marine survival is the most important variable in the Skagit river wild steelhead returns abundance. as both you have read that taking the hatchery out of the Cowlitz is not a good long term idea - its kinda frustrating that I have said this twice and you both have had a hard time compromising on the idea of letting some systems go and focusing on other systems that could be r-hab to a point of having a C& R seasons
  6. please don't put words in my mouth. i have never once said the cowlitz hatcheries should be closed.

    my position on how wild-fish groups should negotiate has nothing to do with my own willingness to find common ground... which is far easier among like thinking individuals on this board than in real life with the agencies and majority of sportfishermen that wouldn't even think your position of shutting down the hatcheries on the skagit is negotiable.
  7. Ditto...I don't know where you got the thought that I have a problem with a hatchery on a system like the Cowlitz. Can you imagine...Hi, I'm the NFS river steward for the Cowlitz. Ha!

    In my previous posts, I specifically said, "basin by basin decision" and "it's not an all or nothing thing".

    That being said, a concern is high stray rates such as we see with Bogachiel hatchery steelhead finding their way into the Hoh at around 17-18% if I remember correctly.
  8. Dang multi-tasking. I got some laundry done in between. Also got my burn pile stacked. Torched it in the evening when the wind died. (Don't let this wet weather fool you. Its going to get really hot next week, and expect burn bans to go in effect on July 1st).
    triploidjunkie likes this.
  9. Here's an essay I dug up, on the early days of the Willapa. Written by Richard Manning. Wonder if that James Swan mentioned is related to our Old Man?

    (first link didn't get there)

    OK here's the home page to "Salmon Nation." You can follow the links to "Essays" and find it under: Forests Fish Built.

    OK, that doesn't take you there either. You'll have to type it in.
  10. Hookonthefly-
    Would love to see the "data" that supports your comment -

    "The level of introgression is sure high on some of the Skagit/Sauk tributaries. Certainly more than that 5% number."

    I try to track all the data I can find on such issues and Skagit steelhead in general and can not find anything that comes close to supporting such a statement. In fact it might be just the opposite with the Skagit system wild steelhead having some of the lowest wild/hatchery introgression in the State. The reason of course is that significant temporal separation between the spawn timing of the hatchery and wild fish. Currently the spawning in the hatchery is completed by early February while the first of the wild spawning starts a month or more later. In a typical year 5% of the wild Skagit spawning has been completed some time in early April. Somehow to get more than a 5% introgression rate enough hatchery fish would have to remain viable spawners (and able to out compete the fresh wild males for "spawning rights") two months after the last hatchery female had spawned to insure that every early spawning wild fish spawned with a hatchery fish. Not very likely.

    Just for fun lets play with some numbers. With a wild escapement in the Skagit of 8,000 fish there would have to be more than 400 HXW crosses to reach that 5% level. It is generally accepted that the majority (all) the hatchery/wild introgression given the temporal separation of the two stocks would have to be hatchery males spawning with wild females. This year the hatchery at Marblemount collected 197 adult steelhead and assuming that 1/2 were males (100) to have enough viable hatchery males that would be capable of spawning with wild females and getting the best of the larger/more fit wild males several months after the last hatchery females would require a huge stray rate. For those spend males to spawn with the required number of early spawning females not only would have to remain "fit" for several months they would have to stray uniformly through out the basin. For that to happen does not meet neither the common sense or biological "red-face" test.

    It is such off the cuff comments that seriously undermine the creditability of groups like NFS.

  11. I believe his statement was " on some Skagit/Sauk tribs", not the whole system Curt.
  12. " This year the hatchery at Marblemount collected 197 adult steelhead" out of around 200,000 smolts. Pretty meager return, by anyone's standards.
  13. "The reason of course is that significant temporal separation between the spawn timing of the hatchery and wild fish."
    Are you saying the wild fish we see in January wait until the hatchery strays spawn out before the wild fish decide it's their turn to spawn?

    "It is generally accepted that the majority (all) the hatchery/wild introgression given the temporal separation of the two stocks would have to be hatchery males spawning with wild females."
    Are you saying wild males never spawn with hatchery females? Ever?

    "This year the hatchery at Marblemount collected 197 adult steelhead and assuming that 1/2 were males (100) to have enough viable hatchery males that would be capable of spawning with wild females and getting the best of the larger/more fit wild males several months after the last hatchery females would require a huge stray rate."
    So we spent our hard-earned tax dollars for just 197 steelhead, not including the ones that strayed (but don't breed with wild steelhead)? And you think hatcheries are a good idea? Are these just your ideas or is this the official position of WDFW?
  14. Thanks Curt.

    In your quest to track all the data, I would suggest you read and review 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.

    I would especially focus on Table 27 where we see the following juvenile steelhead sampling introgression statistics at:

    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%

    You can find the full study here:

    You'll find no off the cuff comments from me. It is frankly beyond my comprehension that you still defend your position that there is little to no introgression on the Skagit/Sauk. Wow.

    I will have limited to no internet access for the next several days...pesky thing called work. Please don't take my lack of response as, I've surrendered.
  15. Okay guys....continue to cut each other to pieces and let the status quo continue. The bottom line is why continue a program that has gotten less and less productive. If you are going to kill most of the fish before they return to the river, why keep stocking them? Why make habitat improvements if you are going to kill the fish before they return to the river. All the anglers are fighting over the tail and ignoring the whole cow. Some day you are going to realize you are all on the same side!
    Derek Young likes this.
  16. Hookedonthefly -
    Thanks for the link; some may find it interesting reading.

    I was all ready familiar with that study having read both early and final drafts. I have discussed it with several of those involved in the work. Lots of interesting nuggets of information in the study and certainly lots of stuff to get those creaky wheels in my brain turning again. However it remains unclear how much "introgression" is occurring between hatchery and wild Skagit steelhead. It is clear that there is shared genetics between the hatchery and wild Skagit stocks. The mechanism for that share genetics remains unclear. Suggest that reading section 10 might be of interest of interest to some though it can be heavy going.

    From that study in 10.4.1 in discussing the conclusions of the genetic studies -

    "The SPAN microsatellite loci lack sufficient power to reliably quantify Marblemount
    Hatchery (Chambers Creekorigin) introgression into the wild Skagit River winter steelhead
    populations, or reliably identify pure unmarked hatchery or hatcheryancestry fish using the
    program STRUCTURE."

    Same study in 10.4 the author states -

    "Part of the reason for the inability to clearly distinguish hybrid from pure fish lies in the fact that the wild Skagit River steelhead and Chambers Creek origin... share a recent common ancestor and are currently weakly (though significantly) differentiated..."

    I also from the same report I found the following of interest; it is from section 8.4.3 Genetic Profile of Natural-Origin Sauk Adult Steelhead -

    "These tests provide data to show that the genetic profile of steelhead within the Sauk River has not changed over the 30 year time period."

    This constant profile remains in spite of significant changes in the temporal and spatial overlap between the hatchery and wild Sauk steelhead.

    I'm sure that studies such as this one will allow future researchers to ask more refined questions to tease out some more detailed answers but in the meantime I kind of like it that there remains much that we do not know about one of my favorite fish and rivers. The mystery is part of the attraction.


  17. Your right Jim, we are on the same side, we just have some different ideas about how to continue the struggle. I sure hope that Curt doesn't take my responses personally, I like Curt, his input on this site is invaluable, he and the other bios who post on this site are a wealth of knowledge that is hard to find anywhere else.
    If my responses seem a bit curt( pun intended), please forgive me, it is not meant to be presonal.

    Thanks, Chris
  18. I don't think those anglers who prefer the hatchery programs above wild steelhead are on the same side as those who would like to see less hatchery steelhead and more wild steelhead.

    As far as I can tell, some salmon/steelhead anglers would gladly wipe out every single wild fish as long as hatcheries keep dumping in fish for them to catch and kill.

    I don't feel that I have much in common with those folks.
    Chris Johnson and Derek Young like this.
  19. Chris -
    I agree with current low returns it makes little economic sense to continue many of the Puget Sound steelhead hatchery programs. In another world the logical thing to do would be to suspend all but the best (highest return rates) of the PS program during periods of low marine survival until such time as the smolt to adult survivals improve to the point that it makes sense. The problem with that approach is that I'm not sure whether current state steelhead polices would allow for the start of those programs (would have to import brood stock from outside of each basin). Further same policies with the ESA listings dictate that the rivers would have to close. Where would the displaced effort land? The coast?

    That does rise a related issue. Where in the heck are all the hatchery fish coming from that are hybridizing with the wild fish. The mean of the values provide by hookedonthefly from table 27 is an introgression rate of 19%. On an average year where the wild steelhead escapement is at the 6,500 goal more than 1200 wild fish would have to spawned with a hatchery fish to result in a 19% introgression rate. It is generally thought that with the temporal separation in the spawning of the hatchery and wild Skagit steelhead that the interbreeding has to be mostly hatchery males spawning with wild females. That would imply that there are at least 2,400 uncaught hatchery fish swimming around the Skagit River. Actually it would have to be significantly more than 3,000 hatchery fish since the hatchery females have completed their spawning by the end of January or early February. For the hatchery males to spawn with that many wild females that interbreeding would have to continue well into May some 3 months after hatchery females have finished one would expect a considerable loss of vigor in those hatchery males; especially considering that to successfully spawn they would have to out compete the larger more vigor wild males; this implies that there may be several times more than 2,400 uncaught hatchery fish in the Skagit potentially spawning with the wild fish.

    Some questions quickly come to mind when thinking about the above.

    Are the hatchery smolts really surviving that well?

    How come we can not catch more of those hatchery fish?

    Why don't/didn't we see more hatchery kelts from those HXW crossing in the spring CnR fishery?

    If those big numbers of hatchery fish don't exist does that mean that those juveniles from hatchery/wild crosses have a huge survival advantage over those from wild parents?

    Are those hatchery males able to significantly out competing those wild males for spawning rights?

    Or what was thought to be juveniles produced by hatchery/wild crosses the result of some other factor?

    Just some of the things that cause me to scratch my head when I look beneath the surface on some of these issues.

  20. are there any studies on the % of hatchery fish that residualize in the skagit? are the numbers as high as on the coast?

    smaller resident hatchery fish might explain some gene flow that wouldn't result from the few returning adults. we know the importance of resident rainbows to steelhead genetics.
    Chris Johnson likes this.

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