At the Northwest Power and Conservation Council’s request of December 18, 2015, the Independent Scientific Review Panel (ISRP) reviewed a revised White Sturgeon Hatchery Master Plan: Lower Columbia and Snake River Impoundments prepared by the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission (CRITFC). The master plan was revised in response to the ISRP’s April 15, 2015 review, which found the original master plan to be well organized and well written but needing clarification on 10 issues (ISRP 2015-3).
This is part of a Step One review for the Council’s Three Step Review Process for artificial production programs. This Master Plan is a component of CRITFC’s Project #2007-155-00, Develop a Master Plan for a Rearing Facility to Enhance Selected Populations of White Sturgeon in the Columbia River Basin and the Yakama Nation’s Project #2008-455-00, Sturgeon Management. The program proposes to produce approximately 26,500 juvenile sturgeon per year for release in lower Columbia and Snake River reservoirs.
Recommendation: Meets Scientific Review Criteria for Step 1 (Qualified)
Overall, the proponents’ responses were detailed, comprehensive, and well-formulated. The additional information provided in the response to the questions greatly strengthens the Step 1 Document and clarifies the proponents’ intent and the rationale for the proposed hatchery.
The Qualification is that, in Step 2, additional information is needed on the following topics:
- Management of the fishery. Provide additional support and evidence for the assertion that management of a white sturgeon fishery, pursued over a wide area with long seasons and monitored as in the past, will provide the necessary outcomes for limiting harvest rates and protecting wild fish from overharvest.
- The ecological justification for the B40 biological reference point. Its applicability to impounded white sturgeon populations is not clear.
- The fish ticket system. Provide a more complete description and justify its adequacy for accurately quantifying harvest.
- Commercial catch. Provide additional information on how biological data including lengths, weights, marks, and tags will be collected from subsamples of the commercial catch. Information should also be provided on the sampling design and the intensity of sampling.
- Tribal subsistence catch. Provide additional information on how subsistence harvest will be estimated.
- Recreational catch. Provide more information on the roving-clerk angler survey design, the accuracy of harvest estimates, and other biological data that may be obtained from the sport fishery.
- Catch-and-release mortality. Provide a description of plans for quantifying post-release mortality.
- Illegal catch. Provide a description of plans for addressing illegal harvest concerns.
- Sanctuaries. Provide details on plans to create areas where harvest is prohibited.
- Carrying capacity. Provide clear, justified benchmarks for survival, condition, and growth, which are based on literature and actual data, that can be used to determine if carrying capacity has been exceeded, thereby adversely affecting the viability of the natural population.
- Contaminants. Provide a discussion of plans to assess contaminants in fish in the harvest slot as they relate to human consumption.
- Objectives. Clarify how objectives will be quantified and their time frames (see closing section).