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November 2009 DRAFT Comprehensive Management Plan for Puget Sound Chinook: Harvest Management Component

Category: Fish/Shellfish Research and Management - Management and Conservation

Date Published: November 25, 2009

Number of Pages: 249

Author(s): Puget Sound Indian Tribes and WDFW

DESCRIPTION:
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and the Puget Sound Treaty Indian Tribes submitted a draft revision of the Harvest Management Plan to NOAA Fisheries in November of 2009, for coverage of fisheries beginning in May, 2010.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY:

This Harvest Management Plan will guide the Washington co-managers in planning annual harvest regimes, as they affect listed Puget Sound Chinook salmon, for management years 2010 - 2014. Harvest regimes will be developed to achieve objectives (i.e., total or Southern U.S. exploitation rate ceilings, and / or spawning escapement goals) for each of fifteen management units. This Plan describes the technical derivation of these objectives, and how these guidelines are applied to annual harvest planning.

The Plan guides the implementation of fisheries in Washington, under the co-managers‘ jurisdiction, but also accounts for harvest impacts of other fisheries that impact Puget Sound Chinook, including those in Alaska and British Columbia, to assure that conservation objectives for Puget Sound management units are achieved. Accounting total fishery-related mortality includes incidental harvest in fisheries directed at other salmon species, and non-landed Chinook mortality.

The fundamental intent of the Plan is to enable harvest of strong, productive stocks of Chinook, and other salmon species, and to minimize harvest of weak or critically depressed Chinook stocks. However, the Puget Sound ESU currently includes many weak populations. Providing adequate conservation of weak stocks will necessitate foregoing some harvestable surplus of stronger stocks.

The ER ceilings stated for management units (Table 1) are ceilings, not annual target rates. The objective for annual, pre-season fishery planning is to develop a fishing regime that will exert exploitation rates that do not exceed the objectives established for each management unit. For the immediate future, annual target rates that emerge from pre-season planning will, for many management units, be lower their respective ceiling rates. While populations are rebuilding, annual harvest objectives will intentionally be conservative, even for relatively strong and productive populations.

To protect the extant populations in the ESU, low abundance thresholds (Table 1) are established at a level above that which a population may become demographically unstable, or subject to loss of genetic integrity. If abundance (i.e., escapement) is forecast to fall to or below this threshold, harvest impacts will be further constrained, by Critical Exploitation Rate Ceilings, so that escapement will exceed the low abundance threshold or the ceiling rate is not exceeded.

Exploitation rate ceilings for some management units are based on the best available information on the recent and current productivity of each management unit. Quantification of recent productivity (i.e., recruitment and survival) is subject to uncertainty and bias. The implementation of harvest regimes is subject to management imprecision. The derivation of ER ceilings considers specifically these sources of uncertainty and error, and manages the consequent risk that harvest rates will exceed appropriate levels. The productivity of each management unit will be periodically re-assessed, and harvest objectives modified as necessary, so they reflect current status.

Harvest management strategies and objectives embodied in this Plan differ among management units, with reference to the current abundance and productivity of the component population(s), limiting factors constraining natural production, management and production objectives for local hatchery programs, and the role of the populations in recovery of the ESU.

Criteria for exemption of state / tribal resource management plans from prohibition of the =take‘ of listed species, are contained under Limit 6 of the salmon 4(d) Rule (50 CFR 223:42476). The 4(d) criteria state that harvest should not impede the recovery of populations whose abundance exceeds their critical threshold from increasing, and that populations with critically low abundance be guarded against further decline, such that harvest will not significantly reduce the likelihood of survival and recovery of the ESU.

The abundance and productivity of all Puget Sound populations is constrained by habitat conditions. Recovery to substantially higher abundance is primarily dependent on restoration of habitat function. Therefore, the limits to harvest established by this Plan are complemented by the other elements of the Comprehensive Recovery Plan that address degraded habitat and management of hatchery programs.

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