The US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has concluded a five-year (2005-2010), science-based review of its 24 salmon hatcheries in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. LLTK provided facilitation, project coordination, and communications support for the review, which examined 53 hatchery programs for Pacific salmon and steelhead.
The goal of these reviews was to ensure that USFWS hatcheries operate in accordance with the best scientific information available and contribute to sustainable fisheries and the conservation of naturally-spawning populations of salmon, steelhead, and other aquatic species.
“The USFWS review process was modeled after the Puget Sound and Coastal Washington Hatchery Reform Project,” said Michael Schmidt, LLTK Director of Fish Programs and lead facilitator for the project. “It was operated in a transparent fashion with opportunities for input from federal, state, and tribal comanagers as well as the general public.”
The Service’s Hatchery Review Team performed the review guided by these principles:
- A long-term vision focused on maximizing population viability is required for maintaining salmon and steelhead, hatchery and natural, in perpetuity.
- Hatcheries must be viewed as part of the ecological landscape to be operated effectively.
- Hatcheries must be viewed as a tool for achieving conservation and harvest goals, as part of a comprehensive strategy that includes management of harvest, habitat and hydro (dams).
- Hatchery programs must be managed based upon three principles. Every hatchery stock and program must: 1) have well-defined goals in terms of desired benefits and purposes; 2) be scientifically defensible; and 3) be managed adaptively in response to new information obtained from research, monitoring, and evaluation.
With these principles as drivers, the Team assessed each hatchery program and drafted recommendations that provide guidance for meeting short and long-term conservation and harvest goals (and other common goals for programs including cultural, research, and education) while minimizing risks to natural populations.
“In all, the Team produced 10 reports containing approximately 750 program-specific and 16 region-wide recommendations,” said Michael. “These recommendations provide a roadmap to the future for USFWS salmon and steelhead hatcheries in the Pacific Northwest.”
The history, results, and conclusions of the review process, including the Team’s key findings, are described in greater detail in the Team’s summary report. The summary report and the Team’s program-specific recommendations can be found on the Reports and Publications page of the Pacific Region Hatchery Review web site.
USFWS plans to provide periodic updates on its progress implementing the Team’s recommendations. Those updates will be available on the Hatchery Review web site as well.