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Weekly Fish and Wildlife News
February 10, 2012
Issue No. 608

Table of Contents

* Northwest States Want Tougher Boat Inspections At Lake Mead To Reduce Threat Of Quagga Mussels

* 2011 Fall Chinook Redd Survey In Lower Snake, Tributaries Produces Second Highest Count On Record

* Washington High Court Says State Has No Legal Jurisdiction Over Tribes At Treaty Fishing Access Sites

* BPA Releases Proposal For Compensating Wind Generators When High Water Conditions Force Cut Off

* Conservation Easements, Along With Other Tools, Helping Bring Salmon Back To Touchet River

* California Study Focuses On How Unmarked Hatchery Fish Can Mask Condition Of Wild Salmon

* Science Panel Issues Preliminary Review Of Resident Fish, Data Management, Regional Coordination Projects

* Harvest Managers Close Bonneville Pool Sturgeon Season To Save Fish For Summer Fishing

* Paper, Memo Discuss Ongoing Issue Of Delayed Mortality For Salmon Migrants Negotiating Hydro Projects

* Researchers Advocate More Aggressive Marine Microbial Monitoring To Judge Impacts Of Warming Water

* Corps Awards Contract To Remove Rock At Bonneville Dam Accumulated During High Runoff

* To Increase Lagging Angling Tag Returns, ODFW Offers Possibility Of Winning Drift Boat Package

* Groups Petition FDA To Classify Genetically Engineered Salmon As Food Additive For More Rigorous Review


* Northwest States Want Tougher Boat Inspections At Lake Mead To Reduce Threat Of Quagga Mussels

Northwest states and Canadian provinces have launched a letter-writing and lobbying campaign to assure that a $1 million appropriation line item in the Department of Interior’s fiscal year 2012 budget is spent to help cut off the spread of invasive quagga-mussels from a main source – the Park Service’s Lake Mead National Recreation Area.

The move comes from The Northwest Power and Conservation Council, state of Idaho, Colorado River Fish and Wildlife Council and Pacific Northwest Economic Region. The NPCC is comprised of representatives of the states of Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington; the Colorado council represents fish and wildlife agencies from Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming. PNWER includes membership from Northwest states and Canadian provinces.

The appropriation bill language directs the “implementation of mandatory operational inspection and decontamination stations at Federally-managed or interjurisdictional water bodies considered to be of highest risk,” but doesn’t specifically mention Lake Mead.

All want to prevent the spread of quagga, and zebra, mussels from the Southwest to the Northwest. They fear devastating consequences to the Northwest region’s water-related infrastructure such as hydro projects and irrigation systems and to its environment.

Quagga mussels, a species native to eastern Europe, were initially introduced in the 1980s throughout the Great Lakes and the Ohio River and Mississippi river basins, likely taking the ride across the Atlantic Ocean on cargo ships. Quagga mussels were first detected in the American West in January 2007 at Lake Mead, a reservoir on the Colorado that straddles the Arizona-Nevada border. Quagga or zebra mussels have since then been found in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, Texas and Utah, but not in the Pacific Northwest.

They have spread via a number of pathways. Adult mussels easily cling to hard surfaces such as boats and can be spread when boats are trailered from one waterbody to the next.

“Of immediate concern are the high risk vessels leaving mussel-infested federal water bodies such as Lake Mead,” according to a January letter to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar from Celia Gould, Idaho state Department of Agriculture director and head of the state’s Invasive Species Council. “More than a dozen fouled boats have been intercepted by the Idaho program that came directly from federally managed waters on the lower Colorado. The majority of these boats originated from Lake Mead National Recreation Area.”

“If quagga mussels and zebra mussels make their way into Pacific Northwest waters, the impacts of these species throughout our region will be extreme – affecting fishing, drinking water, irrigation pipes for agriculture and residential communities, and recreational pursuits such as boating,” Gould said. “Additionally, the economic, social and recreational pursuits influenced by hydropower and other dams will be impacted, as well as gold courses, hatcheries and the aquaculture industry. The consequences of introducing these aquatic invasive species to Pacific Northwest waterways would be devastating.

“If an effective mussel containment program could be implemented at LMNRA in the near term, this action would greatly reduce the number of contaminated boats entering Idaho’s waters,” the Idaho letter said.

PNWER likewise is urging the Northwest congressional delegation to support increased funding for inspections at Lake Mead.

A letter dated Feb. 2 asks federal agencies to “implement a comprehensive and effective boat decontamination effort at Lake Mead and other infested water bodies in the West.

“All boats leaving infested waters must be subject to inspection and removal of attached mussels and larval mussels in standing water,” the PNWER letter says. “Quagga and zebra mussels are spreading rapidly through the West on trailered, recreational boats. These mussels are projected to cost millions of dollars to mitigate their impacts if they become established in our region.

“A recent study of the hydropower facilities on the Columbia River indicated that mussels, if they become established, will cost about $25 million per year in added maintenance. These costs, of course, will be passed on to consumers, a potentially crippling blow to an already struggling western economy,” the PNWER letter says. “The State of Idaho has projected that zebra and quagga mussels will cost residents of that state $91 million per year. In addition, these and other aquatic invasive species will have incalculable impacts on native fish and wildlife in the Pacific Northwest, with potentially devastating impacts on threatened and endangered salmonids.”

“While our states have established watercraft inspection and decontamination stations, the chance of contaminated boats entering our waters would be much lower if an effective mussel containment program could be implemented at Lake Mead National Recreation Area,” according to a Feb. 3 letter from the NPCC signed by Chair Joan Dukes of Oregon. “Furthermore, it is critical that such a program be implemented without delay, as seasonal boats will begin returning to Pacific Northwest waters in early spring.”

The $1 million this year would help. But it may be a drop in the bucket in an effort that would have to be sustained over time.

“The enormity of the problem” has been daunting for the Interior Department and Park Service, according to the NPCC’s public affairs chief, Mark Walker. He and the NPCC’s mainstem passage and operations manager Jim Ruff updated the Council on the issue Tuesday. Walker said the Park Service has estimated it would take 72 new full-time equivalent positions at the massive park to implement mandatory inspections of all the boats that come and go 24 hours per day and seven days per week.

The 1.5 million acre park includes Lake Mead, which is the largest reservoir in the United States, and Mohave Lake. There are eight developed boat ramps at Lake Mead, each that can handle about 10 loadings and/or unloadings at one time, according to Park Service biologist Brian Moore.

The park gets 25 million visitors annually, and can see as many as 5,000 boats on Lake Mead on weekends.

“It’s really hard for us to regulate all of the boats” with the available staff, Moore said. The emphasis since 2008 has been on “slipped” boats – water craft that is moored at the park’s licensed marinas. Boats that are moored for a time are the most likely to become contaminated.

The concessionaires that run the marinas must include in the rental contracts the requirement that boats be inspected before they leave the marinas. The park service also posts notices “on every dock and every gate” about the need for boat inspections. But, given the traffic, and again lack of staff, it’s easy for boat owners to skirt such requirements, Moore said. The inspections cost the boaters time and money.

Inspections at the six main park entrances pose logistical and funding issues as well. Since complete inspections and decontamination can take up to five hours, as an example, for a house boat, the entrances would become clogged given the current infrastructure. More law enforcement personnel, as well as inspection personnel, would be needed.

The Park Service does have, again, since 2008, four permanent inspection/decontamination stations working primarily at the marinas. Each was purchased at a cost of about $250,000 and cost $5,000 to install, Moore said. The LMNRA also has two portable units operating.

“We’re trying to get the boaters to comply,” Moore said.

“We’d like it to be zero,” he said of the number of contaminated Mead-origin boats found at Northwest inspection stations.

For more information the 2010 Council report "Economic Risk Associated with the Potential Establishment of Zebra and Quagga Mussels in the Columbia River Basin" can be found at http://www.nwcouncil.org/library/report.asp?d=14


* 2011 Fall Chinook Redd Survey In Lower Snake, Tributaries Produces Second Highest Count On Record

According to a preliminary report released this week a total of 5,010 fall chinook salmon redds – supposed egg-filled nests that will produce a new generation -- were observed in the lower Snake River and its tributaries this past fall, which is the second highest count since inception of intensive surveys in 1988.

The 2011 overall redd count was 620 redds fewer than the record count set in 2010.

The low redd count is 54 in 1991, according to a record kept by the Idaho Power Company. That’s the year before Snake River fall chinook salmon were listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act because of declining populations. Much of the species historic habitat was cut off with the construction of dams in southeast Idaho and along the Idaho-Oregon border (IPC’s Hells Canyon Complex).

The annual redd surveys are conducted by biologists from the Idaho Power Company, Nez Perce Tribe, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. It was the 24th year that intensive aerial surveys have been conducted in the Snake River and most of its major tributaries above Lower Granite Dam and the 20th year for ground surveys in tributaries downstream of the southeast Washington dam. The totals come from aerial, ground and underwater video counts.

Before 2010, the previous overall high count had been 1,910 in 2009. The number of returning spawners has been growing since that 1992 listing because of a variety of remedial actions and, at times, help from Mother Nature. Measures have been taken to improve habitat conditions for a species that spawns, for the most part, in mainstem rivers, and to ease their passage up and down through the Columbia-Snake hydro system. Lower Granite is the eighth dam the fish must past on their way to spawning grounds and hatcheries.

The 2011 adult fall chinook count at Lower Granite’s fish ladders was 28,922, second highest on a record dating back to when counts began in 1975. The highest was 41,815 in 2010; third highest now is 16,628 in 2008.

The return includes naturally produced fish from the Snake, Tucannon, Grande Ronde, Imnaha, Salmon and Clearwater rivers and tributaries, as well as four artificial propagation programs: the Lyons Ferry Hatchery, Fall Chinook Acclimation Ponds Program in the Clearwater and lower Snake, the Nez Perce Tribal Hatchery, and Oxbow Hatchery fall-run chinook hatchery programs.

The return would seem to have benefited considerably from a fall chinook “supplementation” project led by the Nez Perce Tribe that began in 1996. The program involves bringing hatchery produced juvenile fish to acclimation sites on the lower Snake and Clearwater rivers for their final rearing before release. The sites are located near major natural spawning areas in hope that the fish would return as adults to spawn.

The overall return over Lower Granite also includes hatchery fish too that are outplanted each year by IPC below Hells Canyon Dam.

IPC and USFWS staff during aerial, ground and underwater video counts observed a total of 2,837 redds this year in the mainstem Snake River.

The aerial surveys attempted to cover the river corridor between Asotin, Wash., and the Hells Canyon Dam (approximately 100 river miles). Intensive deep-water spawning searches were conducted throughout the main river corridor, using remote underwater video cameras in areas too deep to be viewed from the air.

Spawning was estimated to have begun in mid-October, appeared to peak in early November (925 new redds observed on Nov. 7) and was determined to be complete by early December.

Since 2002, the mean number of redds occurring in the Snake River (including deep water counts) has been 1,763, ranging between 1,025 and 2,944, according to the Feb. 7 preliminary report. The lowest redd count for the Snake River, since intensive surveys began, was 46 redds in 1991, while the highest count was 2,944 redds in 2010.

A new technique for counting, and estimating shallow redds, was tested during the fall of 2011 with IPC biologists using a small remote controlled aerial drone (hexacopter), equipped with a video camera to enumerate redds at index sites, according to the report. A set of 17 index sites were chosen and were flown over once per week throughout the spawning season.

Previous year’s data from those sites indicate that a relationship can be developed and used to estimate total shallow Snake River redds based on the total number of redds observed at those sites. Preliminary assessment of the video data clearly shows redds (as well as fish) at each site.

A final count, comparison with biologists “eyes in the skies”, and a total estimate of shallow redds, based on the video, data will be forthcoming,” according to the preliminary report.

“However, based on what was observed during the season, the use of the hexacopter for ultimate data collection was a clear success, and it is recommended that this type of technology be adapted for future use, in lieu of helicopter surveys, based on safety and cost,” the report says.

For a short video showing the hexacopter in use, follow this link: http://videos.oregonlive.com/oregonian/2011/12/snake_river_salmon_survey_empl.html

During aerial and ground surveys, Nez Perce staff observed a total of 1,621 redds in central Idaho’s Clearwater River subbasin. Redd searches covered the entire Clearwater River from Potlatch Mill in Lewiston, Idaho, to the forks of the South Fork and Middle Fork Clearwater rivers (approximately 71 miles), lower Potlatch River (5 miles), about one half mile of the lower North Fork Clearwater River below Dworshak Dam, the entire Middle Fork Clearwater River (22 miles), lower South Fork Clearwater River (14 miles) and lower Selway River (19 miles).

Surveys conducted on the South Fork Clearwater, Middle Fork Clearwater and Selway (which ultimately feeds the South Fork) produced a count of 12, 16 and 3 redds, respectively. That’s the highest redd count in all three upper Clearwater tributaries since surveys began in the South Fork during 1992 and in the Middle Fork and Selway during 1994.

“Every year, we continue to observe redds in new spawning locations throughout the Clearwater River Subbasin and this year was no exception,” the preliminary report says.

“Since 2002, the mean number of redds occurring in the Clearwater River Subbasin has been 916, ranging between 487 and 1,924 (average includes a redd estimate of 514 redds in 2006, because of turbid conditions and missed surveys after peak spawning). The lowest redd count for the Clearwater River Subbasin, since intensive surveys began was four redds in both 1990 and 1991, while the highest count was 1,924 redds in 2010.”

A total of three aerial surveys conducted by NPT staff on northeast Oregon’s Grande Ronde River resulted in a total of 154 redds observed. The lowest redd count for the Grande Ronde River and its tributaries since intensive surveys began was zero in 1989 and 1991, while the highest count was 263 in 2010.

Final results will be provided in annual reports to Bonneville Power Administration. Past reports can be found at www.bpa.gov.


* Washington High Court Says State Has No Legal Jurisdiction Over Tribes At Treaty Fishing Access Sites

Four Columbia River basin tribes’ right to police themselves at congressionally designated treaty fishing access areas was upheld Thursday in a decision released by the state of Washington’s Supreme Court.

The court, in a 6-3 vote, affirmed a state appellate court decision that said the state of Washington erred in citing Lester Ray Jim, a member of the Yakama Nation, in 2008 for illegally retaining undersized sturgeon at the Maryhill access site, which is located in Washington across the river from Biggs, Ore., in The Dalles Dam reservoir.

“We hold that Maryhill is reserved and held by the United States for the exclusive use of tribal members and that the State therefore lacks criminal jurisdiction,” the Washington Supreme Court opinion says.

The state’s high court said, “The basic facts of this case are undisputed.”

Jim caught the five sturgeon incidentally on June 25, 2008, while gill-net fishing commercially, under right of treaty, in the Columbia River. Jim took the undersized sturgeon ashore at Maryhill.

There he was issued citations by the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife for unlawful use of a net and unlawfully retaining the undersized sturgeon.

Jim argued that it is the usual practice among Yakama fishers to wait until coming ashore to release sturgeon and said he told the WDFW officers that he planned to release the sturgeon, which can survive out of water for several hours, and that the officers in fact released the live fish back into the river.

Both state and tribal law restrict the retention of sturgeon that are not above a certain size, but only the state makes it unlawful to fail to “return unauthorized fish to the water immediately," The Supreme Court decisison says. Tribal law allows Yakama members “a reasonable opportunity to release alive any sturgeon of prohibited length incidentally caught in authorized fisheries."

Jim challenged the State's jurisdiction to prosecute him for an alleged criminal violation at Maryhill, asking the Klickitat County District Court to dismiss the case.

On Oct. 21, 2008, the district court granted Jim's motion.

The state then appealed to the Klickitat County Superior Court and it concluded that the state has jurisdiction because "[t]he Maryhill Treaty Fishing Access Site is not within the boundary of the Yakama Reservation.”

The state Court of Appeals, however, reversed the superior court. The appellate court cited legal precedent that the state did not have criminal jurisdiction at such “in-lieu” fishing sites as Maryhill.

Maryhill is one of several treaty fishing access sites established by Congress in 1988. The treaty fishing access sites were created by Congress in response to the devastation of many accustomed fishing grounds of Columbia River tribes that were flooded when the Bonneville Dam was built.

“The State lacks criminal jurisdiction at Maryhill because the treaty fishing access site is tribal land, established and reserved by Congress for the exclusive use of tribal members. The State does not dispute that the site is tribal land,” the Feb. 9 Supreme Court opinion says. “Rather, this case turns most prominently on whether Maryhill is an established reservation.

“Accordingly, because we find that Maryhill is an established reservation held in trust by the United States for the benefit of tribes, we hold that RCW 37.12.010 precludes state criminal jurisdiction.”


* BPA Releases Proposal For Compensating Wind Generators When High Water Conditions Force Cut Off

The Bonneville Power Administration on Tuesday announced a proposal for compensating wind energy producers that are served by the federal power marketing agency’s transmission grid for periodically reducing their output when necessary to keep the electricity supply from exceeding demand during high river flows.

If BPA decides to proceed with the compensation proposal, the agency will also propose in a rate case to split the cost of the compensation approximately equally between users of BPA’s Federal Base System and wind energy producers in its grid.

The proposal comes after months of discussions with key stakeholders to find an equitable solution to oversupply. The proposal is based on concepts developed in those conversations.

Although the discussions are ongoing, BPA is releasing its proposal for public review now so the agency can meet a March 6 deadline for filing the proposal with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

FERC in a Dec. 7 order said that Bonneville’s “redispatch and negative pricing” policy was contrary to the law and gave the agency 90 days to rewrite the policy.

The FERC order said the new policy “results in non-comparable transmission service that is unduly discriminatory and preferential. Accordingly, Bonneville may not extend its current environmental redispatch policies or implement new environmental redispatch policies that result in noncomparable transmission service.”

A month ago Bonneville and other hydro power interest filed requests that FERC schedule a hearing on the issue and, ultimately, rescind its order.

FERC in an order issued Monday granted the rehearing request but said it did so only to stall for time. Law requires that the commission respond to such requests within 30 days.

“In order to afford additional time for consideration of the matters raised or to be raised, rehearing of the Commission's order is hereby granted for the limited purpose of further consideration, and timely-filed rehearing requests will not be deemed denied by operation of law,” the Feb. 6 FERC order said.

The petition, filed in June, to FERC came from a group of owners of wind facilities in the Pacific Northwest that said that Bonneville was “using its transmission market power to curtail wind generators in an unduly discriminatory manner in order to protect its preferred power customer base from costs it does not consider socially optimal,” the FERC order said.

Parties also petitioned the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to overturn BPA’s record of decision regarding the redispatch and negative pricing policy. Those petitions to the appeals court have been stayed until April 4, or pending final action by FERC on any request for rehearing or clarification in the related matter, whichever occurs later.

Meanwhile, BPA says it will continue to work with regional stakeholders to find a solution.

The terms of the newest proposal would run through 2015. It is open for public comment until noon on Feb. 21.

The proposal would address the risk of a possible oversupply of energy when hydroelectric power produced by high runoff of water combines with wind generation in low-demand periods such as late at night. Electricity supply must constantly match demand to maintain the reliability of the electric grid.

“This is an important step toward resolving a Northwest issue in a way that works for the Northwest,” said BPA Administrator Steve Wright. “We’re focused on seeking solutions based on regional input that maintain reliability, protect fish and support renewable energy while equitably sharing costs.”

The risk of electricity oversupply depends on runoff conditions and BPA expects reductions in wind generation will be unnecessary in about one of every three years.

Reducing hydroelectric generation during high flows sends more water through dam spillways, increasing dissolved gas levels that can harm fish, including migrating wild salmon and steelhead that are protected under the Endangered Species Act.

To control gas levels, BPA maximizes hydroelectric generation in such circumstances and offers low cost, or free, replacement power to coal, natural gas and other thermal power plants, as well as to wind generators, asked to reduce generation during times of oversupply.

Thermal plants typically shut down and save fuel costs. But, most wind energy producers continue operating because of the revenue they receive from production tax credits, renewable energy credits and contracts that depend on continued wind generation.

Under the new proposal, BPA would first work with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Bureau of Reclamation to manage federal hydroelectric generation and spill water up to dissolved gas limits, according to a BPA press release. Bonneville would then offer low-cost or free hydropower to replace the output of thermal and other power plants, with the expectation that many would voluntarily reduce their generation to save fuel costs.

If electricity supply still exceeds demand, BPA would then reduce the output of remaining generation within its system, including wind energy, in order of least cost. BPA would compensate the affected generation for lost revenues, including renewable energy credits and production tax credits, subject to audit. The negative pricing policy in effect last year did not call for Bonneville to provide funding to make up for lost credits.

On average BPA expects to compensate wind producers about $12 million per year for lost revenues related to reduced electricity generation, although the total could range from nothing to more than $50 million in extreme conditions, the agency says.

The Northwest River Forecast Center’s runoff projection for Columbia/Snake river basin for January to July 2012 is currently 87 percent of average, as measured at The Dalles Dam on the lower Columbia. Lower runoff reduces the likelihood of an oversupply of electricity this spring, but conditions can change rapidly.

Under the proposal, BPA would cover costs of curtailing wind generation this spring from its transmission reserve account until a rate can be established to recover the costs.

The agency would initiate a new rate case in which it would propose dividing compensation costs roughly equally between users of BPA’s Federal Base System and wind energy operators within BPA’s system.

For more information, go to www.bpa.gov/go/oversupply.


* Conservation Easements, Along With Other Tools, Helping Bring Salmon Back To Touchet River

The confluence of Wolf Creek and the North Fork of the Touchet River in southeastern Washington is now permanently protected by a conservation easement held by Blue Mountain Land Trust.

The easement on 99 acres of riparian habitat and steep basalt upland terrain keeps the land in private ownership and maintains it as a homestead while ensuring protection of waters important for steelhead and chinook spawning and rearing and bull trout migration.

The project in is funded in large part by the state of Washington Salmon Recovery Funding Board with additional partners in the Bonneville Power Administration and the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation.

“This easement represents protection of critical habitat in the heart of salmon, steelhead and bull trout recovery efforts,” said Steve Martin, executive director for the Snake River Salmon Recovery Board, the organization that identifies, evaluates and recommends funding for local projects to the Salmon Recovery Funding Board.

This easement, Martin said, protects habitat from development activities that, once done, are “almost irreversible.”

Martin said the best philosophy for habitat improvement is to “protect the best and restore the rest.” He added that it is less costly to protect habitat before degradation than restoring it after. With a conservation easement the land is protected forever, he said.

The Umatillas, praised by Martin for their partnership on this conservation easement project, agreed that this particular habitat is critical.

“This is beautiful property that includes a mix of functioning floodplain, wetlands, mature riparian forest, and upland habitat,” said Jed Volkman, Walla Walla Basin Habitat Project leader for the Umatilla Tribes. “You can’t beat permanent conservation easements. A hundred years from now fish and wildlife will still benefit from this work.”

The Umatillas have been working with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to begin outplanting 100 spring chinook per year in the Touchet River near the project location, according to Gary James, the Fisheries Program manager for the tribes.

The tribes hope to start this year using seed fish from the Umatilla River, similar to the jump start used for the South Fork Walla Walla River and ongoing for nearby Mill Creek.

“This easement should help protect and expand valuable Touchet spring chinook spawning and rearing habitat,” James said. “This is a great example of combining multiple tools to accomplish our goals.”

In addition to the conservation easement, the tribes’ goals include on-site floodplain enhancements and management of easement property; using the hatchery tool to reintroduce spring chinook salmon; and collaboration with the WDFW to monitor physical and biological improvements.

The easement was obtained from landowners Larry and Barbara Fairchild.

“This is our small way of supporting a worthwhile cause and a dedicated group of people,” Larry Fairchild said in a statement on the trust’s website.

This is the second conservation easement secured by Blue Mountain Land Trust in the Dayton area on the Touchet River or tributaries and results in nearly two stream miles protected on both sides.

Together with landowner Bryan Martin, BMLT on Aug. 25 of last year signed a conservation easement that protects important salmon and steelhead habitat on a stretch of the Touchet River southwest of Dayton. The 35-acre easement on both sides of three-quarters of a mile of the river protects against future development, diking and roads in the floodplain. The easement contains an old river meander, dozens of floodplain acres, several low gravel islands, and other wildlife habitat.

As part of the easement the riparian zone 100 feet back from the river will be fenced. Within the fenced area only passive recreation and habitat improvements will be allowed, while the remainder of the easement area will continue to be used for agricultural purposes. Planting of native vegetation within the riparian zone occurred in the fall of 2011.

“I’m very happy to be able to protect this important salmon and steelhead habitat,” Martin said in a BMLT release. “The conservation easement allows me to continue to own and use the land and at the same time protect an important resource for the future.”

Tom Dwonch, BMLT executive director, said he was pleased to see both easements secured.
The Wolf Creek and North Fork Touchet River project, Dwonch said, “benefits the entire community by preserving an important natural resource and at the same time keeps the land in private ownership and on the Columbia County tax rolls.” He said the conservation easement secured last August not only helps salmon and steelhead recovery efforts, but preserves open space along a developing area of the river.

The Blue Mountain Land Trust was established by local citizens as a non-profit organization in 1999. The organization is made up a 13-member volunteer board and four part-time employees. They work with landowners in southeastern Washington and northeastern Oregon interested in voluntary conservation easements. This allows an individual to continue to own and use the land, while creating sideboards for its future use.

BMLT works closely with interested landowners to draft the easement and identify what purpose they would like their property preserved for. Each easement is specific to the particular property. It takes into consideration farmland, range and wildlife habitat to decide what to protect and allow, as well as how to prohibit uses for the land.

“The landowner has to really want to place their land in easement,” said Dwonch, adding that patience is necessary in a process that can take up to a year to complete.

There are two ways for landowners to receive monetary compensation for placing easements with the BMLT. The first approach is federal income tax deduction based on the difference of the appraisal leaving the land untouched and the value of the land after selling the development rights. For example, if the difference was $100,000 between appraisals, the landowner could deduct this amount from their federal taxes over 15 years. To obtain tax deductions the conservation easement must meet IRS criteria. The second approach is a cash purchase for the easement. If this is the option a landowner chooses, BMLT would seek grants of incremental value to preserve the farmland and habitat.

Regardless of which approach a landowner chooses, to qualify they must enter into a legal agreement with a charitable organization such as BMLT. Once the easement is complete the organization monitors the easement annually to verify compliance with the provisions outlined in the easement.

Find out more about BMLT at www.bmlt.org.


* California Study Focuses On How Unmarked Hatchery Fish Can Mask Condition Of Wild Salmon

Scientists have found that only about 10 percent of the fall-run chinook salmon spawning in California's Mokelumne River are naturally produced wild salmon. A massive influx of hatchery-raised fish that return to spawn in the wild is masking the fact that too few wild fish are returning to sustain a natural population in the river.

The study, published in the online journal PLoS ONE, focuses on the deficiences of relying on census techniques to evaluate the health of wild salmon populations and their habitats. Most hatchery fish in California are unmarked and therefore undetectable in population surveys.

For this study, the researchers were able to identify hatchery fish by using a novel technique to detect traces of a hatchery diet preserved in the ear bones of adult fish.

"We expected to find hatchery fish, but the sheer number of hatchery fish returning to spawn in the wild is surprising," said first author Rachel Johnson, a fishery biologist affiliated with the Institute of Marine Sciences at UC Santa Cruz and with the Bay-Delta Office of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.

"It looked like a healthy population of fish returning to spawn, but the reality is that without the hatchery fish the wild stocks are not sustaining themselves."

The Mokelumne River is one of the major salmon producing rivers for fall-run chinook salmon in California. Throughout the Central Valley rivers, returning fall chinook numbers have rebounded since a disastrous year in 2007, which led to the unprecedented closure of the commercial salmon fishing season for consecutive years in 2008 and 2009.

In the Mokelumne, the number of returning adult salmon has grown from just 418 in 2008 to more than 18,000 in 2011.

But relying on the census numbers alone provides a false sense of the productivity of the river, Johnson said. The study says that the discrepancy between the numbers of fish spawning in the river and the actual survival and productivity of wild fish is a serious issue for conservation efforts aiming to restore the wild populations.

"We might not be monitoring the right thing to evaluate the effectiveness of recovery efforts," Johnson said.

The new study reveals just how thoroughly the system is dominated by hatchery fish. The Mokelumne River Fish Hatchery releases several million juvenile chinook salmon every year.

The hatchery fish are protected from many of the hazards that cause mortality among wild fish during the initial freshwater phase of their life cycle. The researchers say there is growing evidence that the different selective pressures on hatchery fish lead to genetic differences, so that the offspring of hatchery fish may be less fit for life in the wild than naturally produced fish.

This is especially worrisome if, as the new study suggests, hatchery fish are gradually replacing the wild population.

"We could be doing more harm than we recognize," Johnson said. "Humans are influencing the wild stocks, but we have not been adequately measuring that in our monitoring of endangered species." This concern applies globally to several species of salmon and steelhead, from Japan to the U.S. west coast, she said.

"We used the Mokelumne River as a case study to highlight the implications of not monitoring hatchery fish in the wild. But the practice of releasing enormous numbers of unmarked hatchery-produced fish to enhance salmon stocks remains the cornerstone of salmon conservation and harvest management worldwide."

The researchers based their findings on an analysis of ear bones, called otoliths, from fish collected after spawning in fall 2004. Co-author Peter Weber of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory led the development of the technique for analyzing chemical signatures in the otoliths. These bones grow in increments over the life of the fish and incorporate elements from the fish's diet. Hatchery feed is largely derived from marine fish meal, which leaves a chemical signature distinctly different from that found in wild fish.

This signature from a fish's early diet can be detected even several years after it has left the hatchery.

Nearly 12,000 fish returned and spawned in the Mokelumne watershed in 2004. Most were hatchery fish that returned to the hatchery, but about 1,500 fish spawned in the river. The otolith analysis showed that only 10 percent of those spawning in the river were produced there, and only 4 percent of the total spawning population were of natural origin.

"When you use the raw fish counts, it looks like the population is doing well. But if you look at the number of fish that are produced in the wild and return to spawn in the wild, and you follow them through the cycle, you see that the wild fish don't survive at a high enough rate to replace their parents.

So the habitat is not supporting a sustainable wild population," Johnson said.

Mass marking of all hatchery fish would make it easier to distinguish between hatchery and natural-origin fish in population surveys and to actively manage for the recovery of wild populations, she said. Currently, most California hatcheries mark a fixed proportion of the salmon they produce, which helps researchers track them.

"In the Pacific Northwest, many hatcheries mark all of their fish by clipping off the adipose fin. They operate segregation weirs to create 'salmon sanctuaries,' so that hatchery fish can be managed separately to reduce the risk of them spawning with wild fish, competing for habitat, or potentially reducing the fitness of wild populations," Johnson said.

In addition to Johnson and Weber, the co-authors of the paper include John Wikert and Michelle Workman of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bruce MacFarlane of the National Marine Fisheries Service, and Marty Grove and Axel Schmitt of UCLA. This research was funded through a grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.


* Science Panel Issues Preliminary Review Of Resident Fish, Data Management, Regional Coordination Projects

A total of 10 funding proposals “meet scientific review criteria” while another 14 meet criteria with some “qualifications,” according to a preliminary review completed this week of 71 Columbia River basin Resident Fish, Data Management and Regional Coordination projects.

The review which was prepared by the Independent Scientific Review Panel, can be found at:

This 320-page report provides preliminary comments and recommendations on proposals submitted for funding through the Northwest Power and Conservation Council’s Columbia River Fish and Wildlife Program, which is funded by the Bonneville Power Administration. The 11 member ISRP was created at the behest of a 1996 amendment to the Northwest Power Act to provide another level of scientific accountability for projects seeking funding from BPA.

BPA considers the Council’s and ISRP’s recommendation in making final funding decisions.

The Council has, as part of the project selection process, grouped like projects together for review. Completed are the wildlife and research, monitoring and evaluation/artificial production “categorical” reviews. Still ahead is a “geographic” review of more than 100 anadromous fish habitat project proposals. That review will begin later this year.

The ISRP in the Feb. 9 review requested responses from sponsors on 30 proposals submitted in the Resident Fish, Data Management and Regional Coordination category. Project proponents are asked to respond to ISRP concerns by March 7.The ISRP will then judge the proposals/responses before submitting its final report to the Council on April 3.

In the preliminary review posted Thursday the ISRP made a specific programmatic recommendation that applies to the 17 regional coordination proposals. Coordination projects involve activities and tasks that directly support Fish and Wildlife Program implementation, reporting, and technical policy development,

The ISRP in its most recent review also considered nine “contextual” projects that had been reviewed recently but were included in this review for reference because of their relation to the proposals under review.

In addition to comments on each proposal, the ISRP has identified programmatic issues – some old, some new – that are introduced in the Feb. 9 review. These will be further discussed over the next two months and updated in the final ISRP report. Programmatic topics include non-native fish management, trout stocking strategies, monitoring and evaluation, regional coordination, results reporting and process issues.

The ISRP says that it continues to support the categorical/geographical review approach, which was launched in 2010.

“It incorporates some of the best features of past reviews such as site visits, presentations, and a response loop,” the ISRP preliminary review says. “It also adds some positive new features such as an emphasis on topical reviews (e.g., data management) and a recognition of program commitments.

“The ISRP especially appreciates the efforts of project sponsors and Council and BPA staff in organizing and providing invaluable site visits and presentations. These tours and presentations demonstrated that the projects are led by dedicated and articulate staff and progress is being made.

“Specifically, greater understanding and appreciation of the Council’s Fish and Wildlife Program goals for native species and ecosystem restoration are evident in the projects the ISRP visited and reviewed,” the ISRP said.


* Harvest Managers Close Bonneville Pool Sturgeon Season To Save Fish For Summer Fishing

Oregon and Washington fishery managers announced Wednesday the closure of the white sturgeon “retention” season in the Columbia River mainstem and tributaries from Bonneville Dam upstream to The Dalles Dam at the end of the day Friday, Feb. 17.

Catch-and-release angling for sturgeon in the Bonneville pool will remain open.

The mid-February closure is projected to leave a balance of approximately 900 white sturgeon from the 2012 2,000-fish sport harvest allocation for the Bonneville reservoir fishery. The intent is to use the remaining quota for a summer retention season proposed during a December public meeting in The Dalles.

“Catches in early January were excellent but have since slowed allowing us the opportunity to consider a split season similar to the one in 2011 that seemed popular with fishers,” according to John North, manager of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Columbia River Fisheries Program. Anglers had caught 812 legal-size sturgeon through Jan. 31 and were expected to haul in another 300 during the first 17 days of February.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Brad James said that through the first month of 2012 the retention rate in Bonneville pool had been about 180 sturgeon per week, including a 45-fish-per-day rate on weekends. That included a very high rate in early January before foul weather moved in and dampened fishing efforts.

“It’s dropped off to as few as 10 fish per day” recently, James told ODFW and WDFW officials who convened a Wednesday hearing to consider the closure.

Sturgeon retention fisheries in The Dalles and John Day reservoirs are not affected by this closure. Through January 31, catches are at 9 percent and 15 percent of the harvest guidelines of 300 and 500 fish, respectively, in these two reservoirs. In 2011, The Dalles Pool closed on July 30 and John Day Pool closed on April 10.

Monthly sampling summaries and catch estimates for these fisheries can be found on found the WDFW web site:


* Paper, Memo Discuss Ongoing Issue Of Delayed Mortality For Salmon Migrants Negotiating Hydro Projects

Scientific discussion continues regarding the existence, extent and/or causes of delayed or latent mortality in salmon and steelhead that must negotiate, particularly, the Columbia-Snake river hydro system.

Over the past month thoughts have come from a couple of sources. A research paper published online Jan. 30 in the journal “Transactions of the American Fisheries Society” says that hydro operations such as spill can reduce freshwater passage stressors that result in increased mortality in the estuary and ocean and mitigate to some degree for saltwater mortality.

Lead author for “Assessing Freshwater and Marine Environmental Influences on Life-Stage-Specific Survival Rates of Snake River Spring–Summer Chinook Salmon and Steelhead” is Steven L. Haeseker of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Co-authors are Jerry A. McCann, Jack Tuomikoski and Brandon Chockley of the Fish Passage Center.

The article can be found at:

Meanwhile, The Independent Scientific Advisory Board in a memo issued Jan. 3 says that, while delayed mortalities theories may indeed have some validity, the jury is still out as regards the source.

The ISAB review of three FPC memos as well as its Cumulative Survival Study annual reports regarding latent mortality of in-river migrants due to route of dam passage was done at the request of the science panel’s oversight board, which is made of the Northwest Power and Conservation Council chair, the executive director the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission and the science director for NOAA Fisheries Northwest Fisheries Science Center.

The memo can be found at:

The published article says that “researchers have found that juvenile out-migration conditions can influence subsequent survival during estuarine and marine residence, a concept known as the hydrosystem-related, delayed-mortality hypothesis.”

“In this analysis, we calculated seasonal, life-stage-specific survival rate estimates for Snake River spring–summer Chinook salmon Oncorhynchus tshawytscha and steelhead O. mykiss and conducted multiple-regression analyses to identify the freshwater and marine environmental factors associated with survival at each life stage,” the article says. “We also conducted correlation analyses to test the hydrosystem-related, delayed-mortality hypothesis. We found that the freshwater variables we examined (the percentage of river flow spilled over out-migration dams and water transit time) were important for characterizing the variation in survival rates not only during freshwater out-migration but also during estuarine and marine residence.

“Of the marine factors examined, we found that the Pacific Decadal Oscillation index was the most important variable for characterizing the variation in the marine and cumulative smolt-to-adult survival rates of both species. In support of the hydrosystem-related, delayed-mortality hypothesis, we found that freshwater and marine survival rates were correlated, indicating that a portion of the mortality expressed after leaving the hydrosystem is related to processes affected by downstream migration conditions.

“Our results indicate that improvements in lifestage-specific and smolt-to-adult survival may be achievable across a range of marine conditions through increasing spill percentages and reducing water transit times during juvenile salmon out-migration,” the article abstract says.

The ISAB memorandum “re-examines analyses conducted by the Fish Passage Center (FPC) and Comparative Survival Study (CSS) to evaluate whether the route of dam passage affects subsequent survival ‘latent mortality’ of in-river migrants.”

The ISAB finds that collectively “these analyses demonstrate that fish bypass systems are associated with some latent mortality, but the factors responsible for latent mortality remain poorly understood and inadequately evaluated,” the memo says. “The significant association between fish bypass and latent mortality might only reflect a non-random sampling of smolts at the bypass collectors (the selection hypothesis) rather than injury or stress caused by the bypass event (the damage hypothesis).

“Because these hypotheses have very different implications for hydrosystem operations, FPC and CSS conclusions should be re-examined to consider alternative explanations discussed in this review. Further research will be needed to resolve this issue,” the memo says.


* Researchers Advocate More Aggressive Marine Microbial Monitoring To Judge Impacts Of Warming Water

As oceans warm due to climate change, water layers will mix less and affect the microbes and plankton that pump carbon out of the atmosphere – but researchers say it’s still unclear whether these processes will further increase global warming or decrease it.

The forces at work are enormous and the stakes huge, said Oregon State University scientists in an article to be published today in the journal Science. But inadequate ocean monitoring and lack of agreement on how to assess microbial diversity has made it difficult to reach a consensus on what the future may hold, they said.

“We’re just beginning to understand microbial diversity in the oceans and what that may mean to the environment,” said Stephen Giovannoni, an OSU professor of microbiology. “However, a large portion of the carbon emitted from human activities ends up in the oceans, which with both their mass of water and biological processes act as a huge buffer against climate change. These are extremely important issues.”

The interest is growing, scientists say, because nearly half of the world’s photosynthesis is contributed by microbial plankton, and the process of marine carbon production and consumption is much faster than on land. A turnover of terrestrial plant biomass takes 15 years, they say, while marine turnover takes just six days.

As the ocean surface warms, evidence shows that it will become more “stratified,” or confined to layers that mix less than they did in the past. This should reduce overall ocean productivity, Giovannoni said, but so little is known about the effect on ocean microbes that the implication for carbon sequestration and global warming is less clear.

Some OSU research on routine seasonal changes of microbes in the Sargasso Sea of the Atlantic Ocean suggests that different and specialized microbial communities can become more dominant when water warms.

As warmer oceans become a more long-term and global phenomenon, researchers need to know more about these microbes, and whether their behavior will amplify or reduce atmospheric carbon and the greenhouse effect.

It could be either, Giovannoni said.

“Some warming of surface waters may reduce carbon sequestration, which could cause a feedback loop to increase global warming,” Giovannoni said.

“Other forces, what we call the microbial carbon pump, could cause carbon to sink into the deep ocean and be segregated from the atmosphere for thousands of years,” he said. “We know both of these processes exist, but which one will become dominant is unpredictable, because we know so little about ocean microbes.”

It was only two decades ago that OSU scientists discovered SAR11, an ocean microbe and the smallest free-living cell known, but one that’s now understood to dominate life in the oceans, thrives where most other cells would die and plays a huge role in carbon cycling on Earth.

Microbial action also surprised scientists just recently, Giovannoni noted, when specific microbe populations surged following the Gulf Coast oil spill and cleaned up much of the oil faster than many thought possible. And some plans to “fertilize” the ocean and sequester atmospheric carbon through marine phytoplankton growth have been put on hold, he said, because it just isn’t certain what would happen.

To reduce that uncertainty, Giovannoni advocates more aggressive development and implementation of marine microbial monitoring technology around the world, to add to what scientists can already learn from study of satellite images. And the field is so new, he said, that many researchers are not even comparing the same types of data or standardizing the tools they use to assess microbial diversity – a problem that needs to be addressed.

Dramatic advances in DNA sequencing in recent years, Giovannoni said, should also help researchers unravel the ocean microbe mystery.


* Corps Awards Contract To Remove Rock At Bonneville Dam Accumulated During High Runoff

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers awarded a $770,000 contract Monday to J.E. McAmis, Inc., of Chico, Calif., to remove large rocks from the base of the spillway at Bonneville Lock and Dam.

After the record-breaking water flows at the Corps' Columbia River dams in 2011, engineers found large amounts of rock had accumulated below Bonneville's spillway gates, placed there by the force of the water. The rock moves around during spill operations, which means the large stones can damage the concrete structure below the spillway.

"Leaving the rock where it's at is not an option," said Matthew Cutts, Portland District critical infrastructure project manager. "If it were left unchecked, the rock could cause damage to the infrastructure and make repairs much more difficult and costly."

The contractor will have rock removal equipment on a barge and will use divers to assist with the underwater work to remove the rocks, Cutts said.

The work must be done by March 31 to ensure the Corps is ready to begin spilling water for juvenile fish migration in April.


* To Increase Lagging Angling Tag Returns, ODFW Offers Possibility Of Winning Drift Boat Package

Anglers who turn in their 2011 combined angling tag before May 18, 2012 could win one of 100 outdoor products, including a complete drift boat package.

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife is sponsoring the promotion to try to increase the number of returned tags. Currently, the department estimates, only 20 percent of anglers return their combined tags, which are required to fish for salmon, steelhead, sturgeon and Pacific halibut.

“We get a lot of important harvest information from harvest tags,” said John Seabourne, operations manager for the ODFW Fish Division.

The information is used to determine harvest rates and fishing effort in Oregon’s salmon, steelhead, sturgeon, and halibut fisheries. The information is also posted on the ODFW website where anglers can check the harvest rates from their favorite water bodies.

Anglers who return their tags by the May 18 deadline will be entered into a drawing for a chance to win a 16-foot Fish Rite drift boat package or one of 99 name-brand outdoor products from Bi-Mart. ODFW has for several years had a drift boat drawing to encourage tag returns. This year the number of prizes has been increased through a partnership with Bi-Mart. The drawing will be held June 8.

To insure their name is entered in the drawing, anglers should return completed tags to any ODFW office or mail to ODFW Tag Returns, 3406 Cherry Ave. NE, Salem, Ore. 97303. Tags also can be returned to any fishing or hunting license agent.


* Groups Petition FDA To Classify Genetically Engineered Salmon As Food Additive For More Rigorous Review

This week consumer groups Food & Water Watch, Consumers Union, and the Center for Food Safety submitted a formal petition asking the Food and Drug Administration to classify and evaluate AquaBounty’s “AquAdvantage” genetically engineered salmon and all of its components as a food additive.

The groups’ legal petition contends that the current agency review process that treats GE salmon only as a new animal drug is insufficient to protect public health, and that the agency is required by law to review the GE salmon under what should be a more rigorous process for any novel substance added to food.

“The data FDA has on GE salmon, which were supplied by Aquabounty, are incomplete, biased, and cannot be relied upon to show that the GE salmon is safe to consume,” said Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter. “Aquabounty’s own study showed that GE salmon may contain increased levels of IGF-1, a hormone that helps accelerate the growth of the transgenic fish and is linked to breast, colon, prostate, and lung cancer.”

The groups warn that the potential health risks of GE salmon are no different from a number of food additives the FDA has banned in the past, including those that are cancer causing.

“FDA’s choice to allow the first proposed transgenic animal for food to somehow only be reviewed as a drug is contrary to law, science and common sense,” said George Kimbrell, senior attorney for the Center for Food Safety. “Public health and transparency should be championed, not skirted, particularly when contemplating such an unprecedented approval.”

In order to create the transgenic fish, Aquabounty genetically engineered an Atlantic salmon by inserting a chinook salmon growth-hormone gene, as well as a gene sequence from an ocean pout. The company claims this engineering causes the GE salmon to undergo an increase in growth rate that allows the fish to reach market size in half the normal time.

Aquabounty has submitted an application to FDA for approval of the transgenic salmon under the new animal drug provisions of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.

The consumer groups’ petition asserts that the process used to create the GE salmon substantially alters its composition -- including its nutrition value -- and demand that the fish and its components be treated as a food additive pursuant to FDA’s guidelines. As a food additive, AquaBounty’s GE salmon would be considered unsafe for consumption unless the company’s data overwhelmingly proved otherwise, say the consumer groups.

“If FDA actually evaluated GE salmon as a food additive, including allergy-causing potential, they would not likely be able to approve it because of the health risks that have can already be seen in an incomplete set of data,” said Michael Hansen, senior scientist with Consumers Union, the advocacy arm of Consumer Reports.

The groups assert that a proper review process would require GE salmon to undergo comprehensive toxicological studies, specifically those developed to ensure that foods entering the market are safe to consume and are properly labeled.

Last year U.S. Rep. Don Young of Alaska introduced legislation that would require the labeling of genetically engineered fish and another that would impose an outright ban such fish in the United States.

The legislation was in response to AquaBounty Technologies’ proposal now currently under consideration by the FDA. If the proposal to manipulate Atlantic salmon genetics to produce faster growing fish is approved, it would be the first transgenic animal ever approved for sale in the country for human consumption.

“Frankenfish are uncertain and unnecessary,” Young said. “The assessments of these ‘fish’ are flawed at best and the threat to the population of our wild salmon stock is unacceptable. Additionally, consumers have the right to know that they are eating a supposedly sterile fish spliced with the growth hormone of a chinook and the genetic code of an ocean pout. We cannot allow these alien fish to infect our stocks and I will put forth every effort to ensure they stay in the labs where they belong. I choose Alaskan wild salmon every time.”

Also last year, Alaska's senators, Mark Begich and Lisa Murkowski, introduced a bill co-sponsored by Sen. Patty Murray of Washington to ban genetically engineered salmon. The senators also introduced a second bill co-sponsored by Murray and Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon that would require labeling of GE salmon in the event that such fish are approved for consumption.

Aqua Bounty Technologies of Waltham, Mass., has pioneered the genetic modification of salmon to grow the fish to full-size in half the time it now takes for natural salmon. The fish would get a growth gene from the Pacific chinook salmon and genetic material from the ocean pout, an eel-like fish, that would allow it to grow in the summer and winter.

The developer had to file a new animal drug application with FDA because the process alters the structure and/or function of the animal.

An FDA preliminary analysis in 2010 concluded that the salmon are safe to eat and not expected to have a significant impact on the environment.

The company says that the risk of escapement, and the potential intermingling with wild salmon stocks, is eliminated with geographical and geophysical containment provided by the location of the egg production and grow-out sites. The environment surrounding the egg-production site in a hatchery on Prince Edward Island off the east coast of Canada is inhospitable to early-life stages of Atlantic salmon due to high salinity.

And, the environment downstream of the grow-out site in Panama’s highlands is inhospitable to all life stages of Atlantic salmon due to high water temperatures, poor habitat, and physical barriers (e.g., several hydro-electric facilities).

Biological containment is accomplished through the production of all-female triploid (sterile) fish, which reduces the chance of breeding with native species, and significantly reduces the risk of transgene propagation in the environment, the company says.



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