At the Council’s June 25, 2010 request, the ISRP reviewed the Kootenai Tribe of Idaho’s June 2010 revised Master Plan for the Kootenai River Native Fish Conservation Aquaculture Program. As described in the Master Plan, the goals of the Kootenai sturgeon aquaculture program are to prevent extinction of Kootenai sturgeon and restore a healthy age class structure to enhance demographic and genetic viability and persistence of the population. The burbot aquaculture program’s goal is to re-establish a native burbot population in the lower Kootenai River capable of future sustainable subsistence and sport harvest. Through this Master Plan, the Kootenai Tribe is proposing to construct a new hatchery on Tribal-owned land at the confluence of the Moyie and Kootenai rivers.
This is an ISRP response review as part of Step 1 review in the Council’s Three Step Review Process. Step 1 is the feasibility stage, and all major components and elements of a project should be identified. The ISRP reviewed the initial Step master plan submittal in 2009 and requested responses on specific issues regarding the white sturgeon and burbot components of the plan (ISRP 2009-40).
In June 2010, the Kootenai Tribe responded to the ISRP’s preliminary review by revising the Master Plan based on the ISRP’s comments and providing a point by point response to the ISRP’s comments. The ISRP’s review of the revised June 2010 Master Plan for the Kootenai River Native Fish Conservation Aquaculture Program is attached, and the ISRP recommendation is below.
Kootenai White Sturgeon - Meets requirements for proceeding to Step Two (Qualified)
The proponents have provided adequate responses to the majority of the ISRP’s comments in the preliminary review of the Master Plan, and the ISRP appreciates the extensive detail provided in the response document and the revised Master Plan. However, the ISRP has identified several remaining issues for which we would like additional information/detail and qualify our review with expectations of seeing this information included in the Step Two Master Plan document.
The qualifications are that the proponents: (1) establish quantitative benchmarks (i.e. estimated population size, survival rates, adequate number of families, and age structure) and a decision pathway to adjust production goals based on monitoring data of hatchery fish in the wild, (2) refine the monitoring program to collect the necessary data to determine if benchmarks are being met or exceeded, and (3) provide additional details regarding the rationale and justification as to the need for additional hatchery capacity (see summary comments/questions below).
Kootenai Burbot – Meets requirements for proceeding to Step Two
The proponents responded adequately to ISRP recommendations by providing sufficient information and justification in the Master Plan to proceed to Step Two. A number of published papers cited provide guidance for moving forward with burbot conservation aquaculture. The ISRP further commends the proponents for providing the detailed burbot Hatchery and Genetic Management Plan (HGMP) and for their focus of the proposed program on the research aspects regarding burbot habitat requirements and limiting factors, as so little is known of their life history in the subbasin and elsewhere.