congressionally driven process is building
momentum toward its goal of delicately
balancing Columbia River Basin hatchery
production so it provides desired harvest
and, at the same time, protects threatened
and endangered salmon and steelhead.
Congress in 2005 directed NOAA Fisheries
to conduct a collaborative, independent
review of how harvest and hatcheries in
the basin -- particularly federally-funded
hatcheries -- affect the recovery of
salmon and steelhead listed under the
Endangered Species Act.
aim is to pattern the Columbia River
Hatchery Reform Project after earlier work
commissioned by Congress in the Puget
Sound and Coastal Washington region.
After a few months of marshalling the
forces and developing a strategic work
plan and the tools to implement it,
products have begun to fall off the
project's Hatchery Scientific Review Group
conducted its first regional review in the
Lower Columbia and estuary on the
Washington side of the river in July,
"pilot project" was deemed "successful
because it provided solutions for the
managers to implement reforms, while
serving as a 'test' to help us determine
if the overall approach to the review
process would work," according to an Oct.
11 project progress report.
"We're kind of building this as we go to
see how we can put it in the best context
for decision makers," said consultant Jim
Waldo who was hired to lead the two-year
intent is to redesign hatchery programs to
achieve two goals:
help conserve wild salmon and steelhead
support sustainable fisheries.
basin holds about 300 populations of
salmon and steelhead, including 100 that
spawn naturally. Each of the remaining 200
populations has a hatchery component.
of the naturally spawning populations are
part of 13 stocks that are ESA listed.
purpose of the CRHRP is to "help put in
place a management approach which allows
Tribal, State and Federal managers to
effectively manage hatcheries to meet
conservation and harvest goals consistent
with their respective legal
project will not address legal issues or
mitigation responsibilities, according to
information posted on the hatchery reform
Waldo, of Gordon Thomas Honeywell, was
hired to facilitate the scientific review,
informed by the Hatchery Scientific Review
Group and its results in the Puget Sound
region. Lars Mobrand, of Mobrand, Jones &
Stokes, is leading the Science Team. Waldo
and Mobrand identified a team of policy
and technical staff to organize the
project work plan.
reviews of 11 different regions within the
basin are being carried out by an
independent group of scientists in
conjunction with a Steering Committee
comprised of representatives from
fisheries agencies in Washington, Oregon,
and Idaho; the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service; NOAA Fisheries; and tribal
agencies in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.
is intended that the review will lead to a
series of decisions that are a) based on
broad policy agreements, and b) supported
by consistent technical information about
hatcheries, habitat, and harvest,
according to background information posted
in the web page.
few hints and signs of promise emerged
from the pilot study.
"First, it appears that there is
significant potential to reduce risks and
increase benefits programmatically, by
resizing hatchery programs and improving
broodstock management (composition of
hatchery and natural fish in the hatchery
and on the spawning grounds), and
operationally, by upgrading aging
facilities to meet state and federal
environmental requirements and accommodate
best culture practices," according to the
"Second, since hatchery origin fish can
support higher exploitation rates than
wild populations, the ability to harvest
hatchery fish at a higher rate than wild
will both reduce the potential adverse
effects of too many hatchery fish on the
spawning grounds and increase the value of
the hatchery production to fisheries.
"Finally, it is also abundantly clear that
improvements in quality and quantity of
habitat will both increase benefits and
reduce risks associated with hatchery
programs. Improvements of habitat in the
lower Columbia is particularly important
to allow recovery of listed stocks, while
at the same time supporting harvest
through large hatchery programs," the
Waldo said that the final products from
the reviews will likely include specific
recommendations, potentially offering a
list of options with the HSRG weighing in
on its preferred path. Implementation
would be left to the fish management
"We're kind of experimenting with that
too," Waldo said of the final form of
recommendations from the process.
process draws on other ongoing efforts,
and established work, and aims to
"contribute value to them," Waldo said.
Columbia Basin effort is closely aligned
with another NOAA project, an evaluation
of hatcheries it funds through the
Waldo said he expects the information
generated through the CRHRP "to feed into
the alternatives that NOAA will put out
similar relationship is being developed
with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,
which is amidst an evaluation of
hatcheries it funds.
Corps of Engineers too is doing a review
and a Northwest Power and Conservation
Council initiative to develop "provincial"
objectives for its fish and wildlife
program will also benefit from, and be an
asset to, the CRHRP.
data generated will also inform the remand
process for NOAA's biological opinion on
the Federal Columbia River Power System.
Assistance from state, federal, tribal and
private hatchery managers is a key
component. For each review region the HSRG
will tour the facilities and programs,
consider population and habitat
information provided by the managers,
consider the benefits and risks to all
populations that result from each hatchery
program, meet with the managers to discuss
the findings, and then produce specific
recommendations for reducing the risks and
maximizing benefits from each program.
project will consider all hatcheries
within the U.S. portion of the basin.
These programs are managed by federal
agencies, state agencies, tribal agencies,
and private entities.
Facilitation Team is helping with policy
development for the CRHRP with the
assistance of the Steering Committee. The
process envisions a transition from the
scientific group’s recommendations into a
performance-based management system that
triggers management reforms.
Members of the Steering Committee include:
Ed Bowles, Oregon Department of Fish and
Wildlife; Kat Brigham, Confederated Tribes
of the Umatilla Indian Reservation
(invited); Claudeo Broncho,
Shoshone-Bannock Tribes of Fort Hall; Jody
Calica, Confederated Tribes of Warm
Springs; Dan Diggs, USFWS; Steve Huffaker,
Idaho Department of Fish and Game; Dave
Johnson, Nez Perce Tribe (invited); Rob
Jones, NOAA Fisheries and co-chair of the
BiOp Remand Harvest and Hatchery Work
Group; Jeff Koenings, Washington
Department of Fish and Wildlife; Guy
Norman, WDFW and co-chair of the BiOp
Remand Harvest and Hatchery Work Group;
Joe Peone, Confederated Tribes of the
Colville and Phillip Rigdon, Yakama Indian
Unlike the Puget Sound and coastal
Washington Hatchery Reform Project, the
Columbia review includes recommendations
related to harvest.
review schedule is as follows.
July 2006: Lower Columbia, Washington;
September 2006: Columbia Estuary,
November 2006: Lower Columbia – Sandy and
Columbia Estuary, Oregon;
January 2007: Columbia Gorge, Washington
and Mitchell Act Programs in Region 7;
April 2007: Columbia Gorge, Oregon;
May 2007: Willamette;
June 2007: Columbia Cascade;
August 2007: Columbia Plateau, Oregon;
October 2007: Columbia Plateau,
January 2008: Mountain Snake –
Clearwater/Mountain Snake – Salmon;
March 2008: Blue Mountain.
HSRG then looks at the current program to
determine if it is managed on a
scientifically sound basis. It also
considers whether or not the hatchery
populations are affecting conservation
goals for wild stocks, according to
hatchery reform web page. The HSRG may
find a hatchery program is being properly
managed, or find that reform is needed in
order to meet conservation and/or harvest
goals. The HSRG may also recommend that a
program be terminated.
the 11 regional reviews are completed, the
HSRG will “roll up” the results in the
entire Columbia River Basin to determine
if additional reforms are needed in order
to meet conservation goals, and harvest
goals that are consistent with those
conservation requirements. The final HSRG
report will be forwarded to Congress and
be made available to governments,
interested parties and the public.