Monday, January 27, 2014

Judge Rules in Favor of Wild Sandy Steelhead and Salmon

"The most significant decision benefitting wild fish in Oregon for decades"

Last week Judge Ancer Haggerty of the US District Court ruled that the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife's hatchery management plan prepared for the Sandy River and approved by NOAA violated the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and the National Enrivonmental Policy Act (NEPA). The judge ruled that he believed that the measures laid out in the hatchery plan would not reduce the risk of extinction for chinook and steelhead in the Lower Columbia, and that the alternatives put forward in the Environmental Impact Statement were not sufficient to reduce hatchery impacts on wild fish in the Sandy River. The case was brought by the Native Fish Society and the McKenzie Fly Fishers.

The ruling creates an important precedent for legal challenges to hatchery operations that jeopardize the conservation and recovery of ESA listed wild populations. The judge has now given the plaintiffs and the agencies involved time to come to an agreement on how to move forward before the spring time smolt releases in the Sandy River.

More information from Oregon Public Broadcasting:

and from the Native Fish Society:

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Native Fish Society Action Alert: Comment on the Oregon Coastal Salmonid Management Plan

Thanks to our friends at the Native Fish Society for organizing another Action Alert. Now it has never been easier to submit comments to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife on the Coastal Management Plan (CMP). The draft CMP is firmly rooted in the status quo of hatcheries and harvest, and will effect 89 distinct populations of salmon and steelhead. Two indepedent science review panels have expressed concerns about the plan and its potential impacts on wild fish. Several critical shortcomings include:

  • An over emphasis on hatchery production, including a 5% coastwide increase in hatchery releases
  • Opening wild steelhead harvest on some coastal rivers
  • Failure to adequately consider or plan for future climate change and development impacts
  • Failure to consider the tradeoffs between hatchery production and fisheries supported by wild steelhead.
Please take 30 seconds and submit your comments before February 10th:

Monday, January 20, 2014

Canadian Govt Ignores Science, Cohen Commission in Opting to Expand Fish Farms

Last week, without much fanfare the Canadian Federal government announced it was going to allow the first major expansion of the salmon farming industry since a hard won moratorium on expansion of fish farms came into effect in 2011. The move, while not surprising shows blatant disregard for the demonstrated impacts the aquaculture sector has had on wild salmon populations and the risks associated with expanding the number of fish farm tenures and the size of farms already in the water. It also directly violates the findings of the Cohen Commission, a judicial review which cost the Canadian taxpayers $26 million just to have the government ignore it's recommendations. The government has already received 11 applications for new or expanded farms since the change came into effect last week.

More from the Vancouver Sun:

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Action Needed: ODFW Coastal Management Plan fails to protect wild fish

The draft Coastal salmonid Management Plan (CMP) is available for comment until February 10. The CMP was developed by ODFW staff with limited public input, and is primarily a hatchery and harvest plan that is designed to continue most of the current management practices. It is scientifically suspect, and represents a high risk for wild fish on much of the Oregon coast. 

A more detailed article will appear in the Osprey soon.

A series of public meetings begins January 16 in Salem.

To review the Coastal Management Plan (CMP), and see the schedule of public meetings, and the results of an independent review of the CMP report go to:

Comments can be mailed to ODFW or submitted via email. Comments must be submitted before February 10th.

Email comments to:

Thoughts on ODFW's Coastal plan from Joe Ferguson of the Steamboaters:

ODFW is under considerable pressure from elected officials and a large segment of the sport fishing population to provide fish for consumption and not to focus on protection and recovery of wild fish. It is past time for Oregon to move towards protection/recovery of wild fish, and the draft CMP fails in this regard.

The draft CMP was reviewed by two separate scientific groups, with parallel findings: The Independent Multi-Disciplinary Scientific Team (IMST), authorized by the Oregon Plan for Salmon and Watersheds (15 pages, available on ODFW’s CMP website); and a separate Panel assembled by Steamboaters and the Native Fish Society consisting of Steven Cramer & Associates, Chuck Huntington, and Dr. Chris Frissel (30 pages, key points are itemized on pp 3 & 4).

NFS will post on their website shortly.

From the IMST report (p 1):

“....we have major concerns that the CMP places excess faith in hatcheries, makes multiple assumptions with minimal data if any, (and) limits discussion to the pressures that ODFW can regulate thereby omitting major
land use and socioeconomic pressures....”

Critical shortcomings of the plan:

1) There is no comprehensive plan designed to benefit wild fish.

2) Hatchery impacts are not considered a primary or secondary limiting factor for wild fish populations. Hatchery planting increases from 6 million to 6.3 million.

3) Impacts to wild fish habitat from climate change (both freshwater and ocean), O&C legislation, and human population increases on the coast are ignored.

4) There is no plan for habitat protection or improvement. Impacts to habitat are not defined; habitat improvement is left for others to accomplish with little guidance.

5) The monitoring plan lacks both specificity and the necessary funding.

6) Chum salmon and spring chinook are at risk, and anadromous cutthroat populations are depressed. The CMP devotes minimal effort towards recovery of any of these.

I urge you to read these scientific reviews and contact the department and the Commission with your concerns.

Please take a few minutes to contact ODFW and weigh in on the draft Coastal Management Plan.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Action Needed: Two More Days to Submit Comment on Squamish Resort Development

The BC Ministry of Environment is accepting comments until January 14th on a proposed development that would threaten one of the most important tributaries of the Cheakamus River. Garibaldi at Squamish is a massive ski and golf resort proposed to be built along the Chekeye and Brohm Creek, vital tributaries to the Cheakamus River. The resort development could have disastrous implications for these two watersheds, here's a rough synopsis:

Details of the Brohm Ridge/ Garibaldi At Squamish development

- 22,000 bed units planned in 5700 houses (this will effectively double the population of Squamish)
100km or road put in over rocky geologically unstable terrain (tax burden to maintain road will be placed on Squamish residents)

- Three 40-50m high dams to catch water during the freshet on Brohm to be installed in a seimically-active unstable slope (having been injured to one Sea-to-Sky corridor rockslide, I think this may not be the best of plans)

- Water usage estimated using 200L daily water allowance drawn from Brohm Creek (400L is the average amount used per person in the real world) ***since 2010, plan has changed and water will be drawn from the Cheakamus and pumped up to Brohm Ridge) with no allowance for water used in fire suppression in water use estimate

- 17 at risk species are threatened by this including grizzly bears, goats, Cheak steelhead

Threat to Brohm Creek

- Water will be collected in dams during the freshet and stored for use to make snow and supply water to Garibaldi at Squamish (GAS) year round.

- In stream flow models predict that GAS will draw more than is needed to maintain a minimal flow of water once every 6 years during a low water year, leaving steelhead and salmon high and dry.

- Brohm creek produces porportionally 3-5x more steelhead than any other creek in BC due to ideal phosphorus content.

- Cheak steelhead are frequently repeat spawners due to their large size leaving the Cheak due to their stay in Brohm Creek. 90% of "Cheak" steelhead smolts survived the CN spill (actually??) because they were harbouring in Brohm Creek at the time of the spill --> gives some perspective as to the importance of Brohm to Cheak steelhead.

- Sewage will be treated then dumped into Chekeye Creek (considering how small Chekeye Creek is, that porportionally a huge amount of sewage) fertilizer from golf courses will runoff into Brohm Creek

The bottom line is this project is an environmentally destructive boondoggle from every angle and it cannot be allowed to go forward. Please submit comments ASAP (ie. before January 14th) and tell the BC Ministry of environment that we value protecting Brohm Creek and the Cheakamus over another unnecessary ski area. 

Submit your comments:

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Article on KUOW's EarthFix Highlights Growing Awareness of Hatchery Impacts

With the holidays we missed posting this earlier, but we wanted to pass along a link to an interesting and important article on KUOW's EarthFix, highlighting the growing groundswell of opposition to the impacts on ongoing industrial scale hatchery production throughout the Pacific Northwest. The article is accompanied by a short radio feature that discusses the ongoing wild gene bank designation process. It also touches on ongoing lawsuits on the Elwha, Sandy and McKenzie Rivers, challenging hatchery programs that jeopardize ESA listed populations of salmon and steelhead.

More at EarthFix:

Don't forget to turn out for the WDFW meeting in Chehalis Thursday night.

The meeting is scheduled to run from 6-8PM and will be held at Centralia College, Washington Hall Room 103. The address is 701 W Walnut St.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Don't Let Hatchery Advocates Hijack WDFW's Gene Bank Process

Recently, we asked you to submit comments in support of WDFWs groundbreaking decision to designate three new wild steelhead gene banks in Southwest Washington. The decision to permanently discontinue releases of hatchery steelhead and designate the Wind, East Fork Lewis and Green and North Fork Toutle Rivers as wild steelhead gene banks arose from the recommendations of an advisory group WDFW convened on the subject of wild steelhead recovery. The proposal had been met with wide spread support until the CCA started running radio adds prompting backlash from some local fishing groups fearful of losing their allocation of taxpayer funded hatchery welfare.

Now the department is bowing to pressure from the CCA, extending the comment period and holding a second public meeting on the issue of designating the gene banks. The proposal to designate the Green River as a wild gene bank has apparently been particularly contentious with some local anglers who enjoy fishing for hatchery origin skamania stock summer runs. However, this ignores the fact that even with the closure of the hatchery program there will still be ample opportunity to fish for hatchery summer runs in the region, including on the Cowlitz, SF Toutle, Kalama, NF Lewis and Washougal. 

The public meeting is scheduled for the evening of January 9th and will run from 6-8PM. It is being held at Washington Hall Room 103 at Centralia College, 701 W. Walnut St. 

It is critical that advocates for wild steelhead make a strong showing at this meeting and give WDFW cover to make the right choice and protect wild steelhead in the Green and Northfork Toutle Rivers. 

More information on the proposed gene banks in the Lower Columbia: