Balancing ESA and Sustainable Fisheries: Results of the Hatchery Scientific Review Group's Columbia River Basin Review

Monday, September 9, 2013: 2:00 PM
Marriott Ballroom A (The Marriott Little Rock)
Thomas Flagg , Manchester Research Station, NOAA Fisheries Service, NWFSC, Manchester, WA
The Pacific Northwest contains the largest number of hatchery programs for anadromous salmonids in the world. These hatchery fish provide for robust fisheries, however, they also have the potential to negatively affect the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA) salmon populations in the area. Achieving a scientifically defensible but socially acceptable balance between harvest and conservation has proven to be challenging, both politically and biologically. The Congressionally-established Hatchery Scientific Review Group (HSRG) reviewed the over 175 hatchery programs that release over 140 million anadromous salmon juveniles in the Columbia River Basin annually. The HSRG used stock specific information, the best available science, and key principles of explicit goal identification, scientific defensibility, and adaptive management to model potential solutions for comanager goals for the stocks. Overall, HSRG modeling indicated the potential to increase conservation of primary stocks of importance by about 25% for steelhead to over 70% for Chinook and coho salmon.  At the same time, the modeling indicated the potential to increase overall harvest benefits by about 15% by shifting hatchery production away from key populations of concern and by focusing on selective fishing and by relocating some in-river harvest benefits.