In response to the Northwest Power and Conservation Council’s March 29, 2018 request, the ISRP reviewed the document Master Plan: Pacific Lamprey Artificial Propagation, Translocation, Restoration, and Research – Conceptual phase to address Step 1 Master Plan review elements. The Master Plan was prepared by the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission (CRITFC), the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation (YN), the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation (CTUIR), and the Nez Perce Tribe (NPT). This is a Step 1 review in the Council’s Three Step review process for proposed artificial production projects. The Master Plan is intended to address objectives and review conditions for CRITFC’s Implement Tribal Pacific Lamprey Restoration Plan project (#2008-524-00) and the Yakama Nation Ceded Lands Lamprey Evaluation and Restoration project (#2008-470-00), regarding artificial production activities in the projects. The CTUIR also collaborate through their Pacific Lamprey Research and Restoration Project (#1994-026-000).
The Master Plan’s preface states:
This plan describes ongoing and proposed adult translocation and artificial propagation activities, as well as existing and proposed facilities needed to meet artificial propagation objectives. The plan focuses on activities of the YN and the CTUIR; however, to provide a comprehensive description of supplementation activities in the Columbia River Basin, the plan also describes ongoing adult translocation activities being conducted by the NPT. Actions described herein will work together and provide synergy with other actions such as improvements to passage, habitat, and water quality to help meet restoration goals for Pacific Lamprey in the Columbia River Basin.
The ISRP recommends that the Lamprey Master Plan “Meets Scientific Review Criteria (Qualified).”
The Master Plan largely meets the conceptual requirements for a Step 1 review. The proponents recognize that there is still much to be learned about how, or if, artificial propagation and translocation can be used in Pacific lamprey conservation and restoration. For instance, uncertainty about the genetic effects of adult translocation and out-planting of propagated larvae on the Basin’s Pacific lamprey population segments is acknowledged. The Master Plan, however, provides a strong rationale for employing both of these recovery options. To help resolve this and other questions, they propose a four-phased program that is comprehensive and well presented. Nevertheless, in Step 2, the Master Plan should include considerably more detailed information on the monitoring and evaluation components of the program, including statistical analyses and how this information will be used in an adaptive management framework.
Specifically, more information is needed to address the following issues:
- Quantitative performance objectives were developed for Phase 1 of the Master Plan to describe expected survival rates of artificially cultured lamprey from fertilization to release. The Master Plan, however, does not describe how survival and growth of propagated lamprey will be monitored in the hatchery. In Step 2, the proponents should clearly describe the methods they will use to make these assessments.
- Phase 2 of the Master Plan evaluates the survival and growth of propagated lamprey that have been transplanted into natural environments. In Step 2, the proponents should describe the analytical approaches taken to evaluate the effectiveness of out-planting propagated lamprey that have different life stages.
- The overarching goal of Phase 3 of the Master Plan is to compare and evaluate the effectiveness of different lamprey supplementation strategies to ascertain which are the most successful, e.g., translocation versus artificial propagation involving release at one or more life stages. A clear definition of what success represents is needed. Additionally, in Step 2 the Master Plan should include details of the statistical approaches that will be used to compare the effectiveness of the supplementation strategies.
- The proponents should consult with the USFWS to determine if a document that is functionally equivalent to NOAA Fisheries’ Hatchery and Genetic Management Plan (HGMP) is required for this project. The ISRP believes such a document would be beneficial.
- The Master Plan should specifically state what aspects of the proposed artificial propagation and translocation efforts are being implemented to identify and protect adaptive genetic diversity within the Columbia Basin. For example, identify protocols that will be followed to reduce potentially deleterious effects of genetic drift, inadvertent domestication, and disruption of spatial or temporal adaptations among population segments within the Basin.
- As acknowledged by the proponents in the Master Plan, an Environmental Assessment will need to be included in Step 2 due to the geographic scope and number of juvenile lamprey that are scheduled for release.
The Master Plan addresses one component of Pacific lamprey conservation: the use of supplementation techniques to prevent extirpation and restore abundance in historically occupied habitats. Parallel efforts are needed to quantify the relative importance of the factors limiting Pacific lamprey throughout the Columbia Basin. If the proponents are successful at rearing and releasing propagated juvenile lamprey, serious issues will still remain about the quality, quantity, and distribution of habitat that can provide long-term support of this species. Additional challenges associated with upstream and downstream passage and the possible effects of contaminants on lamprey vitality also exist in the Basin. A coordinated, multifaceted effort is underway through the Columbia River Basin Tribes’ programs, USFWS, US Army Corps of Engineers, the broader Pacific Lamprey Conservation Initiative, and others that will need to be continued to ensure that self-sustaining populations of Pacific lamprey can be maintained throughout the species’ historical range.