Over the last year, the Council and others in the region have discussed the concept of a Columbia basinwide review of artificial production. The Council's 1994 program calls for such a review. The Independent Scientific Review Panel suggested the same in recommendations submitted to the Council in June. Importantly, during the summer Congress called on the Council to do such a review in report language for the Energy and Water Development Appropriation Bill, 1998. Initially, the report language called for the review to be reported to Congress by October 1998. In conference committee, the schedule was amended to call for completion by June of 1998. The Appropriations Bill language is attached (see Attachment 1).
In September, the Council called for a comprehensive review of Columbia Basin artificial production as part of the decision on the fiscal year 1998 annual implementation work plan. There are several activities that relate to the need for a review. While the review is not intended to specifically address the needs of these activities, it is important to recognize that these activities are ongoing and might benefit from the results of this review.
- An environmental impact statement (EIS) has been under development by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), and Bonneville over the last three years to programmatically address artificial production concerns in the Columbia River Basin. The EIS is expected to be finalized in the near future. Information compiled for the EIS could provide good background for the review.
- The three independent scientific panels (Independent Scientific Group, National Research Council work group, and NMFS Recovery Team) have completed reports over the last several years that all call for a review of Columbia Basin artificial production for salmon and steelhead. They all note the need to integrate artificial production with natural production in a biologically sound manner.
- The Council program has numerous measures that relate directly to issues regarding artificial production, natural production, and the interactions of the two. In approving the fiscal year 1997 implementation package the Council called for the fish and wildlife managers to develop and submit a study plan to address all of these measures as a high priority. The intent was to implement this study plan starting in fiscal year 1998. To date, the study plan has not been drafted.
- The Council will need to make decisions at key points in development of several program artificial production projects over the next several years. A review of artificial production should be designed so that it can provide guidance for these decisions.
- The NMFS is developing a recovery plan for Snake River listed salmon populations listed under the Endangered Species Act. Likewise, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is developing a recovery plan for the listed Kootenai River sturgeon. It is anticipated that the artificial production review could provide information that might be used to address issues in the recovery plans relating to the use of artificial production.
- The Columbia River Fish Management Plan developed under the U.S. v Oregon litigation terminates on December 31, 1998. It is anticipated that the artificial production review could provide information that might be used to address issues in the process of renegotiating the plan.
Purpose of the Review
As noted above, there are numerous activities for which the results of the artificial production review are needed. The importance of such a review has evolved as concerns regarding the effectiveness of artificial production have increased. Currently the basin relies on this approach for over 80 percent of the salmon and steelhead produced. Resident fish populations also rely heavily on this manner of production.
Artificial production has been the preferred approach used to mitigate for losses of fish caused by land and water management activities that can not be avoided. These activities include producing electricity, flood control, logging, mining, water diversion, urbanization, and many others. Producing fish in this manner has resulted in very expensive programs that are frequently not successful in meeting objectives. In addition, mounting scientific evidence gathered over the last two decades indicate that artificially produced fish can, and have had, significant detrimental affects on naturally produced populations.
Essentially, the purpose of the artificial production review will be to address three major questions related to the role of artificial production in the future of anadromous and resident fish in the Columbia River Basin. These are:
- How does artificial production fit, or might be altered to fit, into the Columbia Basin ecosystem? (What are the biological risks attendant to the use of different magnitudes of, and different approaches to, artificial production?)
- How can artificial production be used to meet the needs of society for sustainable populations of fish that support harvest, as well as other competing resources? (How much artificial production is needed to meet societies needs and what risks are society willing to take in regards to artificial production?)
- What institutional structures are needed to meet the needs of society for sustainable populations of fish that support harvest? (Are the current laws, mitigation agreements, funding mechanisms, management approaches, bureaucracies, infrastructure, and other aspects of Columbia Basin artificial production appropriate?)
These three questions relate to the activities listed above regarding artificial production. The Council recognizes that the artificial production review is not intended to provide all the answers for and needs of these other activities, but it is hoped that this effort will provide useful information for these activities. Most importantly, these questions directly address the congressional directive to develop a recommendation for a coordinated policy to guide the future operation of federally funded hatcheries in the Columbia River Basin.
Scope of the Review
The Congressional directive calls for the Council to recommend a policy regarding federal projects. However, discussions over the past year indicate that a review of artificial production must address all production to be effective. Artificial production activities, regardless of funding source, are related biologically because of habitat shared during at least some phase of life history. This is especially true of anadromous species because of their migratory nature, but also affects resident fish populations in many areas in the basin. It is also important to note that funding needs for these activities cause impacts on the all facilities and activities through explicit or non-explicit prioritization of limited funds.
In addition, the Council decision in September called for resident fish to be included in this review. The Council's sense is that this does not require including all resident fish artificial production activities. Including all activities would add an order of magnitude of additional activities to this effort that is not warranted. Further, resident fish information is not available in centralized locations, as is anadromous fish information, which could unnecessarily delay the review. For these reasons the Council is proposing to limit the resident fish portion of the review to activities that either: 1) directly mitigate for losses of fish caused by the development and operation of hydropower facilities, or 2) release fish into waters that potentially could result in interaction with fish that meet requirement number 1.
Therefore, the artificial production review will address:
- Artificially and naturally producing fish populations.
- All (federal and non-federal) anadromous fish artificial production activities in the basin.
- Resident fish artificial production activities (federal and non-federal) that mitigate for hydropower caused losses or that occur in waters where other artificial production activities mitigate for hydropower caused losses.
Potential Products of the Review
Because of the limited time for completion of the review the Council proposes to develop two consecutive reports over the next 13 months. See attachment 2 for a summary of the timeline for this process. The first report would include:
Task 1: A summary of existing artificial production programs, agreements, and law that mitigate for losses of Columbia River Basin anadromous and resident fish (List of programs summarizing when started, why started, how much artificially produced fish required, who pays for it, number of hatcheries funded, names of hatcheries, locations of hatcheries, etc?).
Who: Council Staff
When: Draft available in January.
Task 2: A scientific analysis of the use of artificial production as a tool for mitigation and enhancement of fish populations in the Columbia River Basin (Review and summary of what current scientific knowledge tells us about how artificial production should be used, how it should not be used, and relative biological risks involved in using it for different types of situations.)
Who: Independent Science Group of 5 (See description of this group below in section titled Technical Elements.)
When: Draft available in mid-May.
Task 3: A summary of the performance of existing and past artificial production efforts in meeting mitigation and other stated objectives (Summary of how artificial production programs have performed on an annual basis in meeting objectives of these programs, annual costs expended in these programs, identification of potential problems that might have caused programs to not meet objectives such as harvest/lack of maintenance/hatchery practices/etc?, and identification of potential reasons for successes.).
Who: Council Staff and Consultant
When: Draft available in mid-May.
These products will be bundled together in a report that will undergo regional review through mid-June, and then be finalized and provided to Congress by the end of June 1998. A list of the type of questions that might be asked is attached (see Attachment 2).
The second report would include:
Task 4: An evaluation of the performance of the existing artificial production programs in the Columbia River Basin using the first report as a basis (Evaluate existing programs for specific reasons for successes and failures to identify recommendations for these programs. Reasons for failure might include too much harvest, poor water supply, inadequate fail-safe measures, and insufficient funding for the purposes set out for the artificial production. These types of factors might also be reasons for success if listed in the affirmative context. Proposed recommendations would include several alternative actions that might be taken to address identified problems. Also, compile list of recommended draft elements for task 5.).
Who: Independent Science Group of 5
When: 1st Draft available in mid-September.
Task 5: Policy recommendations including at a minimum:
1. A set of general principles regarding the use of artificial production as a tool for mitigating and enhancing fish populations in the Columbia River Basin. These could address many elements and might include topics such as: a) no more than X% of juvenile or adult fish produced by X subbasin can be from artificially produced parents; b) no more than X million smolts in the estuary at any given time; and c) other. Please note that these are only examples and are not intended to prejudge the outcome of the review.
2. An analysis of existing programs identifying changes required to meet the general principles listed above (i.e. update facilities to produce fish in a manner that is more biologically sound; use acclimation facilities for all releases; etc?).
It might also include:
3. A set of criteria for operation of individual projects that must be met to procure ratepayer, state, or federal funding.
4. An improved decision making process for using this tool.
5. A uniform set of performance indicators and defined approach for periodic evaluation of facilities/programs.
6. How to procure commitments for resources/funding to operate and maintain artificial production facilities/programs.
7. How to change existing mitigation agreements and legislative mandates to be consistent with and implement the above recommendations.
When: 1st Draft available in late October.
These products will be bundled together in a report that will undergo regional review through mid-December, and then finalized and provided to Congress by the end of December 1998.
Congress calls on the Council to conduct the review with the assistance of the Independent Scientific Advisory Board (ISAB). The Council intends to use this body for technical review and recommendation. The actual technical work products would be produced through two avenues:
- A group of five technical experts (Independent Science Group of 5) including three members of the ISAB and two other members acceptable to the ISAB.
- Council staff management of contracts with appropriate consultants.
Those involved will be objective, technical experts who understand the complexity of the issues. Efforts will be made to make sure that those involved comprise well-balanced groups that are able to completely and fairly address the tough questions that need to be answered. Technical questions that might be addressed by the artificial production review include questions that the Hatchery EIS did not adequately address, Council program measures regarding natural and artificial production that have not been implemented, questions identified by the 3 independent scientific panel's reports, and questions that arise from review of the draft recovery plans.
The Council intends to designate a group that can be used to provide input during the review on technical and procedural aspects. One of the following two options might provide this input:
- The Columbia Basin Fish and Wildlife Authority has identified an ad hoc production review committee to follow progress of the review. This group might be broadened in membership to include other entities interested in artificial and natural production not represented on this committee.
- The Council could assemble an ad hoc Production Review Group for this purpose. The group would include representatives of the fish managers and other interested parties.
Technical or scientific questions submitted will be separated from policy questions. Policy questions will be addressed as outlined in the next section. A list of the type of questions that might be asked is attached (see Attachment 2). Actual questions will be developed in consultation with the ISAB and others.
Policy Review Elements
The technical review of production will be to inform policy decisions regarding artificial production. Decisions such as how many hatcheries are needed in the basin, how many fish should be produced using artificial production, where artificial production should be used and not be used, which existing hatcheries should be altered or abandoned, and how hatcheries should be operated to best provide fish that will fit into the ecosystem are squarely policy in nature. These decisions require weighting scientific and other technical knowledge with available resources and societal desires. These policy decisions will need to be addressed by a policy-level forum.
The Council intends to use its' Fish and Wildlife Committee as the forum for this purpose. Other entities that we expect to be involved include:
- Affected tribes.
- Federal agencies.
- Entities that fund hatcheries under FERC licenses.
- Entities that do not operate hatcheries, but are interested in this issue including Bonneville, fishing groups, environmental groups, U.S. Forest Service, Public Power Council, Columbia River Alliance, and others.
A collaborative approach to the review that involves all interested and affected parties will be critical to providing the most beneficial and implementable result.
The Council is charged to balance the region's need for an "adequate, economical, efficient, and reliable" power supply, with its obligation to "protect, mitigate and enhance" the fish and wildlife of the Columbia River Basin. Accordingly, the policy forum will need to view the artificial production review in a context of possible future system configuration alternatives of mainstem hydroelectric dams. For example, the following three future alternative scenarios are proposed to provide sideboards for the review:
- All existing mainstem dams remain in place and operational for the foreseeable future.
- All dams remain in place except that the four lower Snake River projects are breached to provide a natural river condition in the Snake River.
- All dams remain in place except that a lower Columbia River project, such as John Day Dam, is breached or lowered.
In addition, the Council proposes to do this review with an additional sideboard: Existing harvest agreements and obligations are a given. Technical questions can then be analyzed within these sideboards. The final determination of the appropriate system configuration alternative to implement would continue to be a regional policy decision to be made within the next several years, but this approach recognizes the links between system operations and the use of artificial production.
Attachment 1: Congressional Appropriations Bill Language Addressing the Review of the Use of Artificial Production as a Tool for Mitigation and Enhancement of Anadromous and Resident Fish Populations in the Columbia River Basin
As Approved by the Senate
Due to budgetary constraints, it is critical that federally funded programs, such as the hatchery programs for the Columbia River Basin, spend limited Federal dollars wisely and in a cost-effective manner that maximizes the benefits to the fish resource. The Committee directs the Northwest Power Planning Council with assistance from its Independent Scientific Advisory Board to conduct a thorough review of all federally funded hatchery programs operating in the Columbia River Basin, including an assessment of the hatchery operation goals and principles of State, tribal, and Federal hatcheries, and produce a formal recommendation for a coordinated policy for the future operation of federally funded hatcheries in the basin and how to obtain such a coordinated policy. National Marine Fisheries and the States of Oregon, Washington, and Idaho and Indian tribes in the basin should assist the Council in its review by providing information necessary to conduct a thorough review of federally funded hatchery programs. An independent, comprehensive review that examines all federally funded hatcheries and their roles in fishery restoration is long overdue, and the Committee directs the Northwest Power Planning Council, to provide a final report to the Committee on the subject by October 1998. The Committee directs BPA to provide the necessary funding based on the Council's scope of work for the hatchery review.
As Amended by Conference Committee
The conferees note that the Senate report directs the Northwest Power Planning Council to provide a final hatchery review report by October 1998. As this late date will impede the ability of the Appropriations Committees to incorporate the findings of the review into the fiscal year 1999 appropriations process, the conferees direct the Council to provide the final hatchery review report by June 1998. Attachment 2: Draft Schedule for the Review of the Use of Artificial Production as a Tool for Mitigation and Enhancement of Anadromous and Resident Fish Populations in the Columbia River Basin
|Develop the Scope of the Review||June 1, 1997 - January 13-14, 1998|
|Summary of artificial production in Basin||draft available early January, 1998|
|Scientific analysis of artificial production||draft available in mid-May, 1998|
|Summary of the performance in Basin||draft available in mid-May, 1998|
|Review of first two products||mid-May - mid-June 1998|
|Provide Report 1 to Congress||end of June 1998.|
|Evaluation of Columbia River Basin programs ||draft available mid-September, 1998|
|Policy recommendations||draft available in late October 1998|
|Review of second two products||November - mid-December, 1998|
|Provide Report 2 to Congress||end of December 1998|
Attachment 3: Types of questions that might be asked as part of the Review of the Use of Artificial Production as a Tool for Mitigation and Enhancement of Anadromous and Resident Fish Populations in the Columbia River Basin
Potential General Questions
1. What is the overall role of artificial production in the Columbia River?
2. How does artificial production fit within the context of the Columbia River ecosystem?
3. What is the record of effectiveness of artificial production to mitigate for the effects of mainstem dams and other habitat changes for lost natural production?
a. What are the positive contributions of artificial production in the Columbia River? b. What are the negative impacts of artificial production in the Columbia River?
1. What are the major research questions associated with artificial production? 2. How does the existing level of scientific uncertainty affect the use and management of artificial production? 3. How does artificial production affect harvest regimes and vice versa? What has been the affect of this relationship on natural production?
Potential Specific Questions
- What are the various policies and priorities that govern the use of artificial production in the Columbia River?
- To what extent do these reflect the goals of current restoration programs?
- Do these different policies and priorities represent a coherent and consistent approach to the use of artificial production in the Columbia River?
- How effective has artificial production been relative to stated objectives in the Columbia River?
- What is the relationship between harvest and Columbia River artificial production?
- What is the potential for artificial production to augment or supplement natural production in a biologically sound and sustainable manner?