Fish/Shellfish Research and Management - Management and Conservation
Date Published: April 2006
Number of Pages: 38
Author(s): Heather Bartlett and Bill Tweit
The Fish and Wildlife Commission was formally briefed on the DRAFT Plan at the November 2006 Commission meeting in Vancouver. Formal comments and input was received by the Commission at their December 2006 meeting in Tumwater. The Department did not ask the Commission to formally adopt the Plan because it represented only a part of a more comprehensive recreational fishery plan. However, to ensure the Department managed consistent with the DRAFT Plan, the Fish and Wildlife Commission endorsed the underlying conservation principles and harvest sharing to allow for the Department to manage consistent with the plan.
This plan provides a framework for managing fisheries in waters above Priest Rapids Dam that are directed at salmon and steelhead populations originating from the upper Columbia (above Priest Rapids Dam) tributaries. The harvest rates described in this plan are intended to be consistent with:
- Conservation and recovery objectives;
- Actions taken in the other sectors including habitat, hydro and hatcheries, to promote recovery;
- U.S. v. Oregon allocation principles and court orders;
- Reserved fishing rights of the Colville Confederated Tribes;
- Non-treaty allocation policies adopted by the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission; and
- A diverse array of fishing opportunities including recreational fisheries in the waters above Priest Rapids Dam.
The fishery management plan was developed with a consideration towards current Endangered Species Act (ESA) listing status for populations within the region, and a science-based understanding on mortality factors affecting the salmonid populations of the upper Columbia River. However, population status should be expected to improve into the future commensurate with implementation of identified habitat, harvest, hatchery and hydropower actions to improve productivity and spatial distribution. Therefore, intermittent modifications may be appropriate for the described fisheries to remain consistent with the above objectives. The Plan is a "living document", thus relying upon adaptive management to be responsive to changes in knowledge and status.
The Plan reflects recovery of depressed stocks, through its abundance-based approach to harvest management. However, it is also structured to be consistent with legal requirements of the ESA. Changes in ESA listing status (down listing or de-listing) may change the structure of some of the fisheries and conceivably provide additional flexibility. Our scientific knowledge of the mortality factors affecting these populations may change, triggering the need to evaluate the specific parameters of the abundance-based frameworks. The plan may also be affected by changes to the natural and artificial production levels of fish that support the upper Columbia River populations, in agreements with the Tribes or court orders arising from ongoing litigation, in non-treaty allocation policies established by the Fish and Wildlife Commission, and in our ability to monitor these fisheries and their impacts.