Pacific Council News Spring 2019: Salmon

Salmon seasons set for 2019

In April the Council adopted ocean salmon season recommendations that provide recreational and commercial opportunities for most of the west coast, and achieve conservation goals for the numerous individual salmon stocks on the West Coast. A large increase in hatchery coho over last year will provide a welcome increase in both recreational and commercial fishing opportunities in Oregon and Washington. See the Council-adopted management measures for 2019 ocean salmon fisheries (Salmon Preseason Report III).

National Marine Fisheries Service reinitiates consultation on southern resident killer whales

NMFS announced plans in March to reinitiate Endangered Species Act consultation on the impact of Council-managed fisheries on southern resident killer whales. In April, the Council formed an advisory group, the Southern Resident Killer Whale Workgroup, to help NMFS reassess the effects of Council-area ocean salmon fisheries on the Chinook salmon prey base of the whales. The Council endorsed a draft terms of reference and timeline to accomplish this task, as well as a list of participants. The workgroup, which meets for the first time in late May, will focus solely on Council-area ocean salmon fisheries. Its tasks are scheduled to be completed by November 2019 so that in the event that any needed changes are recommended, NMFS can review them in time for 2020 salmon management.

Council rebuilding plans for Klamath, Sacramento fall Chinook

In April, the Council adopted the salmon rebuilding plans for Klamath River fall Chinook and Sacramento River fall Chinook as drafts for public review (Agenda Item F.5). In June 2019, final action is scheduled for these two plans, and adoption of drafts for public review are scheduled for Queets, Strait of Juan de Fuca, and Snohomish coho.

Three coho stocks (Strait of Juan de Fuca coho, Queets River coho, and Snohomish River coho) and two Chinook stocks (Sacramento River fall Chinook and Klamath River fall Chinook) were declared overfished last June. A rebuilding plan for each of these stocks must be proposed for Council consideration within one year, and developed and implemented within two years.

The Salmon Technical Team has worked collaboratively with tribal, state, and Federal entities to produce rebuilding plans for each of the five stocks. The plans will also go through the Federal notice and comment rule-making process, and will require an environmental assessment under the National Environmental Policy Act. Council staff and NMFS have been coordinating efforts to streamline the processes.

Salmon methodology review topics considered

In April, five potential salmon methodology review topics were identified for potential review.  The list will be refined and considered for adoption in September, so that any analytical work can be completed in time for the November Council meeting, when the Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC) will conduct a full review of any proposed changes.

Of the five topics identified, the first three were “carry-overs” from 2018, and two new topics were added to the list.

  • Complete the documentation of the development of the new Chinook Fishery Regulation Assessment Model (FRAM) base period including algorithms, and review and update the FRAM documentation and user manual that is currently on the Council website (assigned to the Model Evaluation Workgroup [MEW]).
  • Develop a framework for evaluating post-season metrics of model performance for FRAM (assigned to MEW).
  • Conduct the technical analysis needed to inform a change of the salmon management boundary line from latitude 40° 05’ (Horse Mountain, California) five miles north to latitude 40° 10’ (assigned to the Salmon Technical Team [STT]).
  • Examine the data and models used to forecast impacts on Columbia River summer Chinook to determine whether a change in methodology is warranted (assigned to MEW).
  • Provide documentation of the abundance forecast approach used for Willapa Bay natural coho (assigned to STT).

The STT and SSC Salmon Subcommittee will hold a joint work session in October 2019 to address these matters.

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