Background and Goal
Hood Canal and Strait of Juan de Fuca summer chum experienced a severe drop in abundance in the 1980s, and returns decreased to all time lows in 1989 and 1990 with less than a thousand spawners each year. In response to this alarming decline, the state and tribal comanagers began to implement harvest management actions in 1992 to afford greater protection to summer chum in terminal area fisheries and, together with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and citizen groups, initiated three summer chum hatchery supplementation programs. Those actions were expanded in subsequent years and led to the development of the Summer Chum Salmon Conservation Initiative - An Implementation Plan to Recover Summer Chum in the Hood Canal and Strait of Juan de Fuca Region.
In March of 1999, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) determined that the summer chum originating from Hood Canal and the Strait of Juan de Fuca represented an Evolutionarily Significant Unit (ESU), and formally listed these fish under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) as a threatened species.
The conservation initiative (or plan) has been developed and agreed upon by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and the Point No Point Treaty (PNPT) Tribes under their authority to comanage salmon pursuant to the rules and orders of U.S. v. Washington. The plan is consistent with and fulfills the intent of section 13 of the Puget Sound Salmon Management Plan, which calls for the development of comprehensive regional resource management plans for Puget Sound stocks of salmon. In addition, the goal, direction, and provisions of the summer chum recovery initiative are consistent with the guidance within the WDFW Wild Salmonid Policy. The USFWS and NMFS have also participated in the development of the plan at the request of the WDFW and the PNPT Tribes.
Organization of the conservation initiative is in five major parts: the Foreword, which sets the stage; Part One - Life History and Stock Assessment, which describes summer chum life history, discusses the available data, and provides stock evaluation tools; Part Two - Region-wide Factors for Decline, which contains a region-wide analysis and summary of those factors believed responsible for the recent decline of summer chum; Part Three - Evaluation and Mitigation of Factors for Decline, which provides more detailed, location-specific analysis of factors affecting summer chum and presents strategies for their protection and recovery; and Part Four - Summary of Plan Elements, which contains a summary description of the management components, and also describes specific actions, evaluation and monitoring, roles of the participating parties, and time frames.
It is the intent of WDFW and the PNPT Tribes to implement the initiative as a comprehensive regional management plan, as provided for in the Puget Sound Salmon Management Plan. The implementation of the elements of the plan, that are specifically within the jurisdiction of the state and tribal co-managers, would then be under a Federal court order. This will provide certainty that the sections of the plan dealing with the elements of artificial production, ecological interactions, and harvest management will be carried out consistent with the plan. To facilitate an adaptive management approach, annual reports and five year plan reviews will be conducted to measure overall progress toward recovery and to evaluate and/or revise the strategies and actions provided in the plan.
The habitat element assesses habitat factors for decline and recommends strategies and actions to sustain and rebuild summer chum salmon in this region. The authorities to implement these measures, however, are dispersed through a variety of federal, state and local jurisdictions. The parties to the plan will continue to work with the appropriate jurisdictions to develop the implementation plans and actions for habitat protection and restoration. Habitat implementation plans and actions developed by a variety of agencies and processes are expected to be consistent and integral to the plan and are vital to its success. Furthermore, the plan provides critical guidance to the lead entities and the Salmon Recovery Funding Board, helping to ensure that funded recovery projects in Hood Canal and the eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca will have a high likelihood of supporting summer chum recovery.