Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Osprey Steelhead Journal

January 2018 - subscribe here to receive future Osprey journals

Removal of San Clemente Dam, summer 2015. Photo used with permission, California American Water
- Current Issue - 

Columbia River B-Run Steelhead, Part 3
By Dave Moskowitz and Pete Soverel, The Conservation Angler
A continuation of an analysis of the state of wild B-run steelhead and their management on the Columbia River.

Carmel River (CA) Dam Removal Steelhead Recovery Update
By Tommy Williams (NOAA), Amy East (USGS) and Doug Smith (Cal State)
An update on how steelhead populations are faring on the Carmel River since the removal of San Clemente Dam in 2015.

Eel Grass Beds and Salmon Ecology
By Jonathan Moore, Michael Arbieder, Simon Fraser University
An article detailing the importance of eel grass beds to Pacific salmon and the potential threats they face based on the authors’ research on the Skeena River, BC.

Fall Chinook and Summer Steelhead “Travel” Gene and its implications for Restoration
By Mike Miller and Tasha Thompson, UC Davis
Based on their research, ‘immature’ spawners that spend a lengthy time in rivers before spawning may have developed their key ‘travel gene’ a long time ago during a one-time genetic event. This has significant potential ramifications for spring Chinook and summer steelhead restoration. If a run is extirpated on a river, it may be challenging to establish a new run of upriver spawners because the genetic code that causes the fish to key on that river may be gone.

Guest Column
The Ongoing Threat of Atlantic Salmon Farming off the PNW Coast
By Kurt Beardslee, Wild Fish Conservancy

Subscribe here to receive future Osprey journals

Friday, January 29, 2016

Lelu Island Declaration - Protect the Skeena Estuary from LNG Development

Last week leaders from the First Nations, conservation, and angling communities joined forces in signing the Lelu Island declaration. The declaration states their opposition to the proposed development of the an LNG terminal on Flora Bank, one of the most productive salmon rearing areas in the Skeena Estuary.

Here is a video from SkeenaWild on this watershed moment in the Skeena.

It has been declared that there will be no LNG on Lelu Island,...
Watch this video about the brave people of the Skeena River who have declared that the critical habitat at the mouth of the Skeena be protected for all time, as a refuge for wild salmon and marine resources, and is to be held in trust for all future generations.
Posted by SkeenaWild Conservation Trust on Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Action Alert: Comment on WDFW's Proposed Rule Changes

WDFW is accepting comments on rule change proposals for the 2016-17 season, and a number of the proposed rules that have come up could dramatically reduce impacts on Olympic Peninsula wild steelhead, while simultaneously providing improved angling opportunities.

These include:

Rule #46 Implementing no fishing from a floating device on several North Coast streams - pressure on the Olympic Peninsula streams has increased dramatically over the last 15 years leading to increased catch and release impacts and risks to wild steelhead populations. Eliminating fishing from floating devices would reduce catch rates which still allowing a high quality experience for all anglers. 

Rule #47 Implementing selective gear rules on North Coast streams - see above. With more fishing pressure it's never been more important to have selective gear rules in place to ensure that fish are landed and released unharmed by anglers. 

Rule #48 Prohibiting wild steelhead harvest - This should have happened 20 years ago. Wild steelhead are too precious to be killed and the state should eliminate harvest altogether. These are the last few populations in the state that aren't listed under the ESA and eliminating harvest is one important step towards making sure they stay that way. 

Rule #49 Requiring a wild steelhead harvest tag - This would require anglers to buy a special tag to harvest wild steelhead and would limit guides to three harvest tags per year, which would further reduce harvest without banning it altogether. A small handful of guides account for a disproportionate amount of the harvest on wild steelhead each year and limiting the ability of their guided clients to retain fish would likely dramatically reduce harvest.

These rule changes were developed in collaboration with the North Coast steelhead advisory group, a diverse mix of stakeholders that include a handful of dedicated advocates for wild steelhead conservation.

Visit the site today and voice your support for these and other conservation oriented rule changes:

Friday, February 27, 2015

Mining Boom in Northern BC Threatens SE Alaska Fisheries

The BC Government's pro-mining agenda is threatening the livelihoods of people around the region who depend on healthy ecosystems, clean water and wild salmon. Perhaps nowhere is the impact of this mining boom bringing more anxiety over the possibility of disaster than in SE Alaska, where commercial fisheries are highly dependent on wild salmon stocks that return to three trans-boundary rivers. The Unuk, Stikine, and Taku rivers all draw their headwaters from the mountains of Northern BC, running west across the border and into Alaska. Each of these watersheds supports largely intact habitats, and healthy populations of wild salmon. Now a rash of mining proposals that would place mine tailing in their headwaters are threatening the future of these great rivers, and the BC Government has pushed forward mining proposals despite the opposition of downstream communities and the threats posed to other, sustainable industries.

Check out this short film and visit Salmon Beyond Borders for more information.

Friday, February 6, 2015

BC Government and Imperial Metals Go Ahead with Mine in the Taku River

Imperial Metals was responsible for the Mount Polley mine disaster - photo CBC news

The BC Government has given Imperial Metals the go ahead to begin construction and testing of a tailings pond at the proposed site of the Red Chris Mine in the Taku River watershed. Imperial Metals is the mining company responsible for the Mount Polley Mine disaster this past summer. Ironically news of the permit approval came the same week that police executed a search warrant at the Mount Polley Mine site looking for evidence of wrongdoing on the part of the company. Worse yet, a recent review highlighted major shortcomings in the design of the tailings pond at Red Chris, and because of the mining process and ore being extracted at Red Chris mine, a spill there could be far more toxic and catastrophic, raising alarm and anger among downstream fishing communities in Alaska

The mine is within the territory of the Tahltan First Nation, and a blockade by community members this summer prompted the review which exposed the faulty designs for the tailings pond. The Taku is also a Transboundary river, meaning that it flows across the BC border into Alaska, and is a major producer of sockeye and other salmon which support commercial fisheries in the state.

Despite the opposition, risks, and the recent turn of events the government is allowing the project to proceed. Perhaps not surprising given the long cozy relationship between Christy Clark's liberal government, and the fact that a major shareholder in the company held a $1-million dollar fundraiser for Clarks re-election bid at the Calgary Petroleum Club in 2013. The company has also donated close to $150,000 to the Liberal Part of BC in the last 10 years.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Bill in WA State Legislature Threatens Wild Fish Recovery

A misguided bill making its way through the Washington State Legislature right now is seeking to silence an increasingly vocal and effective opposition to hatchery programs that are jeopardizing wild salmon and steelhead recovery around the state. The bill would seek to silence hatchery opponents by denying Salmon Recovery Funding (SRF) Board funding, money intended to support habitat restoration and strategic scientific initiatives, to organizations that are engaged in litigation against state hatchery programs.

Here's more information from the Wild Steelhead Coalition:

SB 5551, introduced by Senator Kirk Pearson (R-Monroe), would deny state Salmon Recovery Funding Board contributions for any project or activity if the project sponsor has brought any legal action against the state before a court or administrative tribunal relating to fish hatchery facility operations within ten calendar years.

Sound science has repeatedly demonstrated that excessive hatchery production can have serious negative impacts on the recovery wild salmon and steelhead. Many advocacy organizations in the Northwest are working to recover populations of these iconic wild fish; through habitat restoration, harvest improvements, and hatchery reform.

Individuals and Non-governmental organizations have long sought redress in the courts to insure compliance with state and federal legislation. This is a well-established component of our American democracy, and an effective tool for the conservation of our shared natural heritage. These advocates argue SB 5551 deliberately jeopardizes this legal right with the threat of funding ineligibility, setting a dangerous precedent for our state.

Many of the same organizations who have challenged misguided or excessive hatchery programs in court also apply for and receive state Salmon Recovery Funding Board contributions for habitat restoration or in-stream connectivity work. Funding that would be preemptively denied if the sponsors of SB 5551 are successful.

The Washington state Salmon Recovery Funding Board provides “funding for elements necessary to achieve overall salmon recovery, including habitat projects and other activities that result in sustainable and measurable benefits for salmon and other fish species.” This funding was created specially to support the recovery of wild salmon and steelhead stocks. There is clear scientific evidence that excessive hatcheries can harm and impede wild fish recovery. Wild fish advocates argue that if passed, SB 5551 would severely undermine the very purpose of the Salmon Recovery Board funding.

Representatives from the Governor’s Salmon Recovery Office and other state agencies tasked with salmon recovery have repeatedly said over the years that for “overall salmon recovery” to be successful, it will take a diverse group of citizens, agencies and organizations working together.
Unfortunately, it seems a small group of legislators is not interested in working together to tackle all the problems facing these iconic fish, including hatcheries. They would rather ignore science and play revenge politics against organizations whose views on fish hatcheries they disagree with, seeking to deny state funding for projects that benefit wild salmon and steelhead recovery, and the many people who want to see them make a comeback in our region.

Contact your state representative and voice your opposition to SB5551:

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Natural Recolonization Works for Salmon following Dam Removal

Salmon and steelhead have evolved in a landscape in the Pacific Northwest rife with peril. From landslides and volcanoes, to glaciers which have intermittently advanced and retreated throughout the region over the last few million years. Under these evolutionary circumstances it is not surprising then that salmon have the ability to colonize newly available habitats. Indeed straying and colonization by salmon could be considered one of the very cornerstones of the species. A recent article in the Columbia Basin Bulletin highlights this point, presenting research from the Cedar River, Seattle's municipal watershed, that has shown convincingly that when passage is restored into areas above dams salmon will naturally recolonize the habitat quickly. Landsburg Dam on the Cedar River was built in 1901 as the diversion dam for Seattle's drinking water. In 2003 the city built a fish ladder over the dam following the ESA listing of Puget Sound chinook and growing concern over salmon recovery in the region. At the time there were some vocal advocates for using hatcheries to reintroduce salmon above the dam, but ultimately cooler heads prevailed and the city opted for the lower cost, natural option of letting salmon recolonize the habitat on their own.

They also teamed up with researchers from UW and NOAA who tracked the recolonization process from the very beginning. What they found, while not surprising, should help inform the debate around salmon recovery all over our region. In just a few generations coho and Chinook had established populations above the dam. Coho, which rear for a year or two in freshwater prior to their seaward migration benefited the most from the access to 30 miles of intact habitat that the fish ladder provided. Today hundreds of coho spawn above the dam every fall and with each passing generation the population continues to grow.

More information in the CBB: