Artificial Production Review Committee Meeting

(Notes from this meeting were archived as a Council document)

NWPPC Conference Room, Portland, Oregon

The Production Review Committee discussed an outline and draft chapter for its report on artificial production in the Columbia River Basin and considered resident fish issues and the Science Review Team's progress. A list of attendees is attached at the end of this report.

Materials from agenda


Committee Business

Council staffer John Marsh, the committee chair, asked if anyone had general Production Review Committee (PRC) business to discuss. Lee Hillwig of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) asked Marsh about a reference in the agenda to a subcommittee of the PRC that is considering policy approaches. Where did this subcommittee come from? Hillwig asked.

Roy Sampsel suggested we consider various efforts that are going on, such as US v. Oregon and the Comprehensive Environmental Assessment (CEA), and how they fit together, Marsh explained. At the last meeting, we talked about getting a group together to do that, and we have a subcommittee of four people, he said. In carrying out the review, we won't be using "this huge group" to do work, Marsh continued. The subcommittees will put things together for this group to review, he said. Anyone who wants to be on the policy subcommittee is welcome, Marsh stated. Roy is the "de facto chair," but he is in Washington, D.C., Marsh added.

Are you going to produce a list of the subcommittees, what they are doing, and who is on them? Pat Oshie of the Yakama Indian Nation asked. I had hoped to keep this more informal, Marsh replied. The subgroups are covered in the minutes, including who volunteers to participate on them, he added. If you see mention of a subgroup and are interested in it, call me, Marsh said. Oshie said he thought it would be helpful to have a list, and Marsh suggested one could be included in the minutes. I expect subcommittees will come and go -- it will be fairly informal, he stated.

If a subcommittee takes on an issue, they will bring their results back to this committee for consideration, right? Tim Stearns of Save Our Wild Salmon asked. Yes, Marsh said. For example, this week's agenda lists a subcommittee report on the policy questions -- Lee Hillwig took the lead on that, he pointed out. The products of the subcommittees will come back to this committee, Marsh stated, adding that he will find a way to link a list of subcommittees to the outline and to identify the products each is helping to develop. But understand that the subcommittees will change, Marsh added.

We're not trying to exclude anybody, Marsh reiterated. The subcommittees are going to do the work, and if you want to be on one, I'd ask you for a commitment to work, not just to show up at meetings, he said.

Reactions to the Resident Fish Outline

Don Sampson of Sampsel Consulting presented a Draft Scope of Work and Outline for Section II of the Artificial Production Review Report -- Resident Fish (Attachment 1). An ad hoc committee of the Columbia Basin Fish and Wildlife Authority's (CBFWA) resident fish caucus will work with the PRC, he reported. The outline is intended to be consistent with the anadromous fish portion of Section II, and the ad hoc committee will take a look at the outline and get comments back within a week, Sampson explained. He pointed out that there is also a statement of work for the contractor, who will gather data and write text for the section.

According to Sampson's outline, the section will include: Introduction, Overview of Columbia Basin Mitigation, Federally Managed/Funded Hatcheries, State Managed/Funded Hatcheries, Tribal Managed/Funded Hatcheries, and Private/Public Managed/Funded Hatcheries.

The statement of work and schedule for the contractor specifies three tasks, Sampson said. Task 1 is to contact hatchery managers from tribal, state, federal, public, and private entities and compile reports, information, and data for completing the section. The contractor may have to go directly to the agencies to get the data, he explained. The schedule allows three weeks for the task, from April 15 to May 6, 1998.

Task 2 is to prepare a first draft of the written narrative, with appropriate figures and maps for each subsection in the outline. The draft will go to the resident fish managers and the PRC for review. The resident fish managers prefer to have their caucus do the review, and then work with you through their ad hoc committee, Sampson explained. The schedule calls for a first draft by May 20, with the text to be reviewed by June 3, 1998.

Task 3 is to compile and incorporate the comments into a final draft for review, and to complete a final version of Section II. The schedule calls for the final draft to be ready by June 17, with a week for review. The final version of the resident fish portion of Section II is to be completed on June 24, 1998 and submitted to the Northwest Power Planning Council, according to the schedule.

The estimated budget is not to exceed $10,000, and the contract period is April 15 to June 30, 1998, Sampson said. This schedule keeps us in line with the overall schedule for the report, he added. The ad hoc committee's preference is not to have the contractor be an engineering firm, but to hire a writer with technical experience, who could work well with the agencies and tribes to extract the information, Sampson explained. We also felt it was necessary to have the agency staffs made aware of what is needed, he continued. The Council needs to contact the agencies' headquarters and inform them of the review so the contractor will get cooperation, Sampson said.

Doug Dompier of the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission (Inter-Tribe) commented that a previous study effort failed because there was no money provided for the agencies and tribes to participate. How will you overcome that? he asked. We haven't faced that yet, Sampson replied. The resident fish caucus said that the contractor had better be someone who can dig into the files, collect what is needed, and see what is missing, he said. It will be different with each agency, Sampson added. But we haven't faced the funding issue yet, and that's why we're asking for your guidance, he stated.

You've allowed three weeks for this task, but my experience is that going through records isn't an easy task, Brian Allee of CBFWA observed. Sampson responded that one of the questions is how far back the research needs to go. Do we want to get a picture of changes in production since a hatchery began, or do we want to get at trends in production and relate them to management goals and objectives? he asked.

I thought we were working from 1984 to the first release this year for the anadromous fish production numbers, Trent Stickell of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) said. Yes, but that's for Section IV, not Section II, Marsh responded. Section II is supposed to look at the law that created the programs, the program policies, and how those have changed over time, he said. We probably need to talk about this some more, Marsh stated. In our discussions at earlier meetings, the committee felt it was not useful to go back to the beginning, Marsh continued. We were thinking about a timetable of 15 to 20 years for two reasons, he said: first, it is not important to go back further; and second, the records might not be available.

If you go back to the beginning, "you'll be in our records for years," Stickell said. Our computer database goes back to 1983, and researching it will take some time, let alone going back to the beginning and into hand-written ledgers, he observed.

Will you be looking at how resident fish policies have affected anadromous fish? Oshie asked. Sampson said yes. The real relationship is in looking at how a body of water has been managed to facilitate resident fish releases, which may not be the optimum for anadromous fish, Oshie said. The resident fish section will recognize that, but the later section will provide the analysis, Sampson responded. I thought that if a hatchery does not release resident fish into anadromous-fish waters, the hatchery is not being considered in the review, Oshie said. Some hatcheries release both into closed waters and into waters that flow into anadromous-fish waters, Stickell pointed out. This research is quite a task -- I don't know how it will be done, he said, noting there could also be confusion since many lakes share the same name.

Si Whitman of the Nez Perce Tribe pointed to the importance of knowing the effects of transferring hatchery fish from one state to another for release. Yes, we need to document that if it has occurred, Sampson agreed.

Did you consistently go through the policy questions to determine your approach? Hillwig asked. The questions pertain to each task in the report outline, and you should check the list to see that you are addressing each question, he advised. The resident fish managers did not have the questions available when they prepared their outline, but they will address them, Marsh responded.

Dompier asked how private hatcheries would be treated and whether they would be separated from the others with regard to where they sold fish. We are most concerned with where fish are released, rather than where they are produced, Sampson responded. Or where they come back to, observed Phil Leshowitz of the Willapa Anglers. We have fought vigorously over hatcheries selling fish after they've gotten the eggs they need, he said. We think they should release the fish back into the water, Leshowitz stated. That's a good point, Sampson said. It will be complicated to track where all of the eggs are going in the basin, he commented. It would definitely help you to know with regard to the genetics of the fish, Leshowitz said. If you don't have an idea about what's going on, you can't evaluate the effect of hatcheries on wild fish, he observed.

Spotting the Trends

The trends are important, Hillwig said. We need to show when we adopted this or that policy and what changed, he stated. We want to make the case that we have made mistakes in the past, but things are changing now, Hillwig added.

It might be helpful to identify the problems that exist with the historical database and outline the funding needed to complete a database, Bill Bakke of the Native Fish Society suggested. It sounds like there will be difficulty in getting the information, and we don't want to go back and do this again, he said. That's a good idea, Stickell said. We'd like to have the money to go through the boxes of records and put the information into our database, he stated.

Is it best to pick an arbitrary date for cutting off the background research or to look at where changes were made in programs? Hillwig asked. If there were no changes, you wouldn't have to go back very far, but if there were, you would go back to a particular point in time to document the change, he suggested.

So the data collection will be different for each agency, Sampson observed. The tribal programs are pretty simple, but with the utilities and private hatcheries, it gets more difficult, he said. We'll just have to go out and dig around, and come back with a report to the committee, Sampson stated. We'll have to get a feel for what's available, but clearly, three weeks is not enough time, he added.

Sections II and IV have a June completion date, Marsh said, but they are not "critical path elements." If they take more time, it would not affect the schedule -- we could take until September for them, he suggested. To what extent will this data gathering be used in the analysis? Stearns asked. It will be used in Sections V, VI, and VII to indicate how policies have changed over time, Marsh responded.

It seems like this is an "open-ended task," Stearns observed. Somebody needs to find the range, and then we can decide on the level of detail we need, he suggested. I'm concerned about leaving the time open-ended, Stearns said, adding that the budget figure may not be adequate either. We need the data that helps us do the analysis, he stated. I'd suggest somebody go off on "a pilot" and choose a couple of tribal and a couple of state hatcheries to show the range of data you could have, Stearns recommended.

We'll go into one state agency's records and get a feel for the range and level of information, and then try to change the schedule to accommodate that, Sampson agreed. We could tentatively plan to complete the work in September, he said. Stickell said Oregon would volunteer to be the first state for the resident fish researchers' work.

What do you want to accomplish? Bakke asked. Do you want to find the changes in policy so you can use that in the analysis? he inquired. There could be a long timeline -- from 1877 to when a policy change occurred, Bakke observed. Is that what you want to show -- how the policy changed? he asked.

We want to look at the changes and the policy trends, Sampson responded. If a particular population has not had any impact from a hatchery program, we should look at that, he said. We should know if there is "an unblemished wild population" and how prevalent that is in the basin, Sampson added.

In its steelhead listing, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) ignored a lot of the data about releases, Dompier said. I hope we don't make the same mistake, he cautioned. "These proclamations about wild populations are a disservice," Dompier added. For the purpose of making recommendations on production policies, the question is whether practices in the past have affected the natural populations, Sampson stated. We have to think in terms of the eventual policy recommendations, he said.

We did not anticipate having a database "back to the beginning of time," Marsh said. The budget and schedule won't allow for that, he added. If we think some other approach is necessary, we'll have to re-evaluate the budget and schedule, Marsh stated. Let's have Don do his evaluation and give us a report at the next meeting, he suggested.

Bob Foster of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) observed that data could be hard to find on hatcheries that operated for a while, but later closed. The further back you go, the harder it will be and the more time it will take, Stickell agreed.

There are a couple of reasons for this section, Hillwig said: to show the trends and to make policy recommendations. Maybe the Science Review Team (SRT) has an expectation about what the data will be like; maybe we should have asked them, he added.

We've decided that what's important are the policies and the trends, according to David Fast of the Yakama Indian Nation. We need an expert who can find out why there were switches "from this fish to that body of water," he said. A database will not get at why policy changes were made, Fast stated. To get at the cost-effectiveness, you have to know "which hatcheries produced what," Stickell observed.

A historical review would be interesting, Fast said, but the recent years are the most important for determining the cost-effectiveness. You don't have to go back very far for that determination before the information gets irrelevant, he added.

For our Klickitat facility, we had a person in Washington's archives for 80 hours, Oshie said. That's just for somebody to dig out the data, and you still need to review it, he stated. It's very time-consuming, Oshie added.

How flexible will the group be about whether the policy questions pertain to the resident fish review? And what if the resident fish managers have new questions? Stacy Horton of the Council staff asked. We'll have to filter the questions for their relevance, Hillwig acknowledged. The resident fish managers were asked for questions, but I don't know how many were submitted, Sampson said.

My conclusion is there is not enough time in this schedule to do the level of work outlined in the scope, Sampson stated. We'll have to go on a case-by-case basis to find the necessary information with regard to policy changes and trends in production, he concluded. We'll start in Oregon and get a feel for the detailed data needed for the scientists to conduct an analysis, Sampson said.

Briefly From The SRT

Marsh provided the SRT report in Chip McConnaha's absence. The SRT is still working on a draft outline, Marsh said. I have asked them for a commitment about when they could provide it, and they said it would be two weeks at the most, he reported. The next SRT meeting is April 9, Marsh said. Did they meet with any contractors yet? Hillwig asked. No, they do not yet have a statement of work, Marsh responded. If you have contractors in mind, let me know, he added.

Shaping the Draft Section II

Council staffer John Harrison reported on the comments he received on the first draft of Section II titled "Artificial Production Requirements for Mitigation of Anadromous and Resident Fish Losses in the Columbia River Basin." He noted he had e-mailed a second version of the draft (Attachment 2) to committee members prior to the meeting. Of the comments, Harrison quipped that he had trouble deciding "whose version of the past to use."

I included a couple of notes at the top of the new draft for you to think about, Harrison continued. First, some of the comments I received should be addressed in material later in the report, he said, and second, we need to decide which fish numbers we should report. Harrison noted that some releases are reported by calendar year and others by brood year. Such discrepancies could explain some of the "errors" several commenters found when they reviewed the table in Section II, he said. I didn't include the table this time because there is so much controversy about the numbers, Harrison added.

In response to a question, Harrison said the new draft contains all comments received. There were more changes in the first part of the section than in the latter part, he said, noting again that the commenters disagreed with one another. I tried to reflect everybody's views, Harrison said. Section II is also the place where we document changes in policy over time, and this is not well represented in the text so far, he explained.

Randy Fisher of the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission (PSMFC) said the report may need to indicate that some hatchery production relates to fulfilling treaty obligations, including the salmon treaty between the United States and Canada, and tribal treaties.

Dompier cautioned the committee about keeping "the spins" out of the material. If you get those spins, let's talk about it, he said to Harrison. In the past, I've seen operators give the information "a spin" that ends up in a final document, Dompier said. John's job is overwhelming, Hillwig observed. There may be documents that could be used to verify information, such as the minutes from the Production Advisory Committee (PAC) meetings, he said. Do they exist? Hillwig asked. No, others responded. We often go back to actual appropriations language, offered Stephen Smith of NMFS. John has struggled to reconcile the spins, and he will tell us where that is a problem, Marsh said.

The first step for Section II is to identify the number of fish produced and by whom, and the next step is to go back to see what changes have occurred, Harrison said. Let me know if there are any holes in the information, he requested.

Techno Troubles

Could you send out the material in Word 6.0 so we can read it? Jeff Curtis of Trout Unlimited asked. Some of us didn't get the e-mail at all, Stickell added. Harrison asked the committee members to be sure the Council has their correct e-mail addresses and to call if there is a problem with reading the e-mail transmissions. He asked for comments within two weeks on the draft of Section II and for the committee's thoughts on how to present the numbers. Stickell pointed out that a decision on which production and release numbers to present is critical to guide the agencies in providing data for the review.

Hatchery Audit Summaries Hitch A Ride On PRC

The Council decided that the hatchery audits prepared by a contractor to the Integrated Hatchery Operations Team (IHOT) should be summarized as part of the production review, Marsh reported. The fish managers and tribes proposed that summaries be prepared, and the Council decided to include that in our process, he explained. We are currently putting together the statement of work for a contractor, Marsh explained.

Where would that fit in our schedule? Smith inquired. Marsh said it would be part of Section IV. Hillwig said it would be helpful to know what expectations the contractor will have for dealing with the agencies and the former IHOT members. The first step is a compilation of the information, and the second step is prioritizing the information, Marsh stated. That's where the managers and hatchery operators need to be involved, he added. If the agencies need to do something, there should be funding for it, Stickell stated.

This is broader than the audits, Marsh pointed out. We have to get the hatchery operators to provide information, and we may need to fund their efforts, he said. I don't have an answer for that -- you'll have to tell us what is needed, Marsh stated. It depends on your expectations of what the contractor will require, Stickell responded.

Why are we doing this? Are we going to end up being faced with the issue of modernizing older hatcheries? Dompier asked. If that is the case, I hope someone is doing the EISs that will be required, and we won't simply get another list that says we need to fix all of these hatcheries, he continued. The IHOT recommendations were not aimed at changing production -- they were maintenance suggestions, Dompier said. Let's be careful of where we are going with this, he added. One of the points of the compilation is to answer whether we need to have new hatcheries or to modernize the existing ones, Marsh said. There is no foregone conclusion -- you're jumping to a conclusion, he stated.

If this leads to a conclusion that the Mitchell Act hatcheries need more funding, we should look at some process other than BPA funds, Smith suggested. Why shouldn't BPA funds be used? Stearns asked. If BPA money is used, the hatcheries should go through the same regional prioritization process as other projects, Smith replied. But there may be other ways to fund them, he added. If there is a more appropriate fix, we should pursue it, Stearns said. The key is to get through hatchery modernization, he added.

Throughout our process, there could be recommendations, Hillwig observed. The point is, whatever the outcome, it has to connect with the policy, he said. I don't want to see a recommendation that changes the Lower Snake River Compensation Plan (LSRCP), for example, without going through a policy process, Hillwig stated. I can tell you are "chomping at the bit" to get at policy, Marsh observed. I just think we need to be cautious about things appearing to be policy recommendations before we get to policy, Hillwig responded. We have to see that the information is analyzed so that policymakers can use it to make decisions, Marsh said. We won't get there for a while, he added.

A Call for Section IVA Volunteers

Marsh asked for help with writing a statement of work for a contractor to compile the historical records of artificial production for Section IVA of the report. Stickell volunteered, and Marsh asked other volunteers to call him.

Sorting the Policy Questions

Hillwig reported on a subcommittee effort to sort the list of policy questions the committee compiled. He provided the committee with a handout (Attachment 3) that sorts the questions according to where they fit into the report.

Dompier pointed to language on page 6 that refers to "cost and benefit standards." That's a "red flag," he said. We fought to use "cost-effectiveness," rather than cost-benefit, Dompier said, adding that he hopes the benefit language will be dropped. Stickell said the idea of cost-benefit needs to be present. We discussed it and agreed we need to look at benefits in the broadest sense, Marsh commented. We fought to keep it out of the Northwest Power Act, and "I'd hate to see it creep back in," Dompier said.

Hillwig pointed out that the end of the handout contains questions the subcommittee did not know how to categorize, and he suggested some are outside the scope of the review. Hillwig also said the subcommittee did not change any of the wording in the questions.

Can we get a list of where these questions came from? Dompier asked. Marsh said he could provide the information, but it would not be included in the report. Will we get questions from the tribes? Bakke asked. Dompier said he submitted questions (Attachment 4), and Hillwig said the subcommittee had not gotten the official tribal okay to use them. They are my questions as a member of this committee, Dompier said, adding "I ran these by our folks." If the tribes have questions beyond what Doug submitted, we're open to having them, Marsh said. But as we get further along, it gets more difficult to incorporate questions, he added. Whitman said Dompier's questions reflect generally the tribal policy statements. We have more specificity in our statements, he said, and we could submit them again. I'll leave that up to you, Marsh responded. If anyone has further questions, please submit them, he said.

The FY 1999 Recommendations to Congress

We had one subcommittee meeting, and except for the state of Washington, we agreed on an appropriations number, Fisher reported. There is still a joint request, but the state of Washington does not agree that it reflects what's needed, Foster of WDFW said. The request is $20.6 million, and letters have been drafted to transmit the information, Fisher said. The House wants appropriations numbers by April 15, he added.

There are two letters, one pertaining to Mitchell Act funds and the other to the LSRCP (Attachment 5), Marsh explained. We also hope to have something from the Council to send, he added, noting that the Council letter is going through an internal policy review. We cannot endorse a specific budget number, Marsh said. The Council will acknowledge the budget number and indicate that it does not want to see things happen with funding that would preclude implementing recommendations from the production review, he reported. So the Council is tying its statements to the review? Hillwig asked. Yes, Marsh said. We want to notify Congress that we intend to review these programs and to lay out the schedule, he explained.

What is the Council's reservation about not endorsing a specific number? Stickell asked. We sent letters to the Cabinet secretaries asking them to participate in this process, Marsh responded. One thing we said is, don't expand your programs or make investments in new infrastructure until after the production review, and don't shut down hatcheries that will be addressed in this review, he added. "Our policy guys" said we can't endorse specific numbers, Marsh said. But others can, and they can use the two letters to do so, he added.

Future Meetings

The committee decided to set the second Monday of each month as its meeting date. The next two meetings are May 11 and June 8.

A Layman's Point of View

"This thing is a nightmare, and there are no simple answers," according to Leshowitz, who identified himself as "a layman" and someone who fishes the river. He said predators, including seals, cormorants, and mallards, are a major concern of those who fish in the river. When they released fish at the Naselle (WA) hatchery, there had to be "a million cormorants there eating like it was a feast," he said. Other species, like walleyes, are also having an effect on the salmon, Leshowitz said.

You can put out one million or ten million fish from hatcheries, but what's the difference if only 1,000 return because of fishing by foreign fleets and fisheries in Canada and Alaska? he asked. "We're on the bottom of the totem pole," he stated. This is what fishermen and people on the water fear, Leshowitz concluded.

Adjourn Production Review Committee April 2, 1998 Meeting Attendees

Brian Allee, Columbia Basin Fish and Wildlife Authority
Robert Austin, Bonneville Power Administration
Bill Bakke, Native Fish Society
Jeff Curtis, Trout Unlimited
Doug Dompier, Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission
David Fast, Yakama Indian Nation
Randy Fisher, Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission
Bob Foster, Washington Dept. of Fish and Wildlife
Tom Frew, Idaho Dept. of Fish and Game
Stacy Horton, Northwest Power Planning Council staff
Lee Hillwig, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Phil Leshowitz, Willapa Anglers
Andre L'Heureux, Northwest Power Planning Council staff
John Marsh, Northwest Power Planning Council staff
Jim Myron, Oregon Trout
George Nandor, Oregon Dept. of Fish and Wildlife
Pat Oshie, Yakama Indian Nation
Tom Rogers, Idaho Dept. of Fish and Game
Don Sampson, Sampsel Consulting
Tom Scribner, Yakama Indian Nation
Stephen Smith, National Marine Fisheries Service
Tim Stearns, Save Our Wild Salmon
Trent Stickell, Oregon Dept. of Fish and Wildlife
Si Whitman, Nez Perce Tribe
Brian Zimmerman, Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla (by phone)