Technical Recommendation 11 (formerly Stock-Specific Harvest)
Harvest Management (In-river)
Closely monitor tributary salmon production and escapement to improve management.
While many of the populations of upriver salmon (including steelhead) are listed for protection under the Endangered Species Act, returns of upriver runs have increased from the 1990s and provided harvest opportunities. The harvest schedules for each run are set under the court-adopted 2008-2017 United States v. Oregon Management Agreement. Most hatchery production is also covered in the management agreement.
Spring chinook returns provide for tribal ceremonial and subsistence fisheries and, in some years, commercial fisheries. The return timing of spring chinook to Bonneville Dam has been consistently later in recent years compared to years prior to 2000. The cause is not readily apparent. The spring chinook return has often been less than pre-season forecasts in recent years with no obvious cause.
Summer chinook and sockeye provide fishing opportunities during the summer. Recent sockeye enhancement efforts in Canada resulted in substantially increased returns. Sockeye harvest in the mainstem is limited, however, to protect the Snake River population. Upper Columbia summer chinook run sizes have supported regular and stable summer fisheries since 2004.
Fall chinook, steelhead and coho are harvested in the fall. The return of fall chinook to the Hanford Reach remains strong. The return of Snake River fall chinook has increased due to tribal hatchery supplementation programs. Fall fishing is often constrained to protect Group B steelhead (fish greater than 78 cm in length).
Treaty tribes also annually harvest salmon, including steelhead, in tributary fisheries. Tributary fisheries are subject to agreement of local managers. For some species and areas, fishing opportunities have increased as a result of improved fish returns, reductions in prior intercepting fisheries, and increases in survival.
Sturgeon fisheries fluctuate based on current stock assessments for each of the Zone 6 pools. Overall sturgeon abundance and productivity is less than desired. Also see the updated technical recommendation Sturgeon.
The management objectives for mainstem fisheries balance harvest opportunities on strong abundant stocks with increased escapement of weaker stocks to their rivers of origin. The desire to evaluate harvest and escapement information in finer detail requires additional monitoring. Traditional sources of information such as fish tickets, coded wire tag recoveries, net flights, spawning ground surveys, hatchery returns and dam counts provide baseline information. Additional sources of information are being incorporated into the management process. Tribal harvest monitors provide data for total catch estimation; they also collect some biological data. PIT (passive integrated transponder) tag detections provide information on the migration patterns of individual fish. Genetic data and analysis provide information on population structure. The U.S. v. Oregon Technical Advisory Committee and Production Advisory Committee provide a forum where scientists from tribal, state and federal agencies can exchange and analyze information.
New and Modified Actions
- Investigate potential causes for the delay in the migration of adult spring chinook.
- Investigate ways to improve the forecast of spring chinook returns.
- Improve capabilities in monitoring and analyzing the effects of mark selective fishing on allocation and escapement. (See the new technical recommendation Mark Selective Fisheries.)
- Investigate ways to improve the return of naturally spawning Group B steelhead in the Clearwater and Middle Fork Salmon rivers.
- Investigate alternate steelhead management strategies for fall season fisheries that could replace current fish length-based management and still meet conservation and harvest objectives.
- Develop new harvest rate schedule for sockeye that provides additional harvest opportunity on upper Columbia stocks while maintaining improvements in the escapement of Snake River stocks.
- Explore methods to incorporate additional information, such as PIT tag and genetic information, into forecasting and monitoring.
- Integrate harvest and production information.
- Maintain the viability of the coded wire tag system to estimate harvest impacts by stock; and support efforts to increase tagging rates and sampling rates as necessary.
- Continue developing tributary fishery opportunities and management frameworks for salmon (including steelhead) in tribal treaty territories and usual and accustomed places.