Snake River Sockeye Salmon Recovery: A Template for Conservation Aquaculture Programs

Monday, September 9, 2013: 2:40 PM
Marriott Ballroom A (The Marriott Little Rock)
Jeff Heindel , Idaho Department of Fish and Game, Boise, ID
Paul Kline , Fisheries, Idaho Department of Fish and Game, Boise, ID
Thomas A. Flagg , Manchester Research Station, NOAA Fisheries Service NWFSC, Manchester, WA
Snake River sockeye salmon are one of the most depleted populations of salmonids in the world.  The last known remnants of the Snake River population return to Redfish Lake in the Sawtooth Valley in central Idaho.  In the ensuing two decades since the population was federally listed as endangered in 1991, many actions have been taken to conserve the population including the initiation of a hatchery-based gene rescue program. Over the course of the program, managers have rebuilt the captive broodstock annually and produced over 3.7 million fish or eggs for reintroduction to the habitat.  Through these efforts, over 95% of the original founding genetic diversity of the population has been conserved and through 2011, over 4,200 anadromous sockeye salmon adults have returned to natal waters in Idaho. The chief aim of this presentation is to describe implementation of hatchery-based gene rescue activities, review present-day release strategies and associated adult returns, and describe a new effort underway to expand program production to more effectively address re-colonization and local adaptation objectives.   In addition we describe achievable population dynamic triggers to allow the transition from a hatchery-based effort to an ecosystem-based effort that should allow natural population recovery to proceed.