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Wildlife Science
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wildthing@dfw.wa.gov

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360-902-2700
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Lead Scientist: Peter Topping

   
  Click on map to enlarge
Click on map to enlarge
   

Freshwater Production and Survival of Puget Sound Salmonids

Dungeness River Juvenile Salmonid Monitoring

Project Description

Location: Between 1996 and 1997, a juvenile trap was operated at river mile 1.8 on the Dungeness River, near Sequim, on the dike at the Olympic Game Farm. From 2005 to present, the juvenile trap has been located at river mile 0.5, near the mouth of the Dungeness River. (see map)

History:Juvenile salmonid monitoring on the Dungeness River was initially established as part of a larger effort to rebuild the Dungeness River Chinook stock. In 1992, joint State and Tribal Co-Managers 1992 Salmon and Steelhead Stock Inventory report designated the Dungeness Chinook stock as a “critical” stock based on chronically depressed spawner abundance. The Dungeness River Chinook Salmon Rebuilding Project (DRCSRP) was founded in December 1991 with the goal of evaluating and correcting factors contributing to Chinook declines. Initial participation included NMFS, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), the Point No Point Treaty Council (PNPTC), WDFW, Long Live the Kings, with assistance from regional enhancement groups and sportsmen associations. Since 1996, committee participation has primarily been from WDFW, the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe, and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS). The overall goal of this project was to provide a self-sustaining, natural population, with genetic characteristics of the existing Chinook salmon stock, and an escapement goal of 925 spawners in three out of every four years. The project collected a representative sample of the total population, established a captive broodstock, and conducted the hatchery program for no more than two consecutive generations (eight years) to reduce the risk of domestication. Natural production continued simultaneous with the captive brood stock program. In addition to supplementation, co-managers have been actively involved with habitat restoration of the lower Dungeness River. Dungeness River restoration plans and reports can be found at: http://www.jamestowntribe.org/programs/nrs/nrs_dunriv.htm

Juvenile salmonid monitoring on the Dungeness River was initially conducted in the mid-1990s and then reinitiated in 2005. Results from this study contribute to a broader compilation of freshwater production and survival of salmonid species across Puget Sound. This study measures freshwater production and survival of wild Chinook and steelhead, both listed as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act. This study also collects biological data from coho, pink, chum, and bull trout migrants. Dungeness River Chinook are part of the Straits of Juan de Fuca Major Population Group in the Puget Sound Chinook Evolutionary Significant Unit (ESU). Dungeness River steelhead are part of the Puget Sound steelhead ESU. Dungeness River bull trout are part of the Olympic Peninsula management Unit in the Coastal-Puget Sound distinct population segment (DPS) for bull trout.

Dungeness screw trap near Sequim
Click on photo to enlarge
Dungeness screw trap near Sequim

Objectives

Primary objectives:

  • Evaluate freshwater production and survival of wild Chinook and steelhead in the Dungeness River watershed.

Secondary objectives:

  • Improve understanding of the life history diversity of Puget Sound Chinook and steelhead, to estimate freshwater production of wild coho, chum, and pink salmon, and to evaluate survival of hatchery-released Chinook in the Dungeness River watershed.

Methods

In 1996 and 1997, a five-foot screw trap was operated from June through October in order to assess the natural production of juvenile Chinook from adult returns resulting from the captive brood stock program. Catches of juvenile Chinook were enumerated and assigned to natural or hatchery origin based on external marks found on hatchery produced fish. Sub samples were measured. Additional species caught in the trap were identified, counted, and measured.

Beginning in 2005, a five-foot screw trap has been operated between February and August. Two times a day, downstream fish migrants are collected, identified to species, and counted. Each week, fork lengths are measured form a sub sample of the catch. In order to estimate the total migration, the trap is calibrated with a series of efficiency trials. Chinook efficiency trials are conducted on a daily basis. Fish are marked and released upstream of the trap. Marks include a small fin clip or dye that allows technicians to quickly distinguish them from the rest of the catch. Trap efficiency is estimated based on the numbers of marked fish that are recaptured. Trap efficiencies for coho and steelhead are estimated from recaptures of downstream migrants marked and released from a fence weir trap on Matriotti Creek. Matriotti Creek is a tributary to the Dungeness located upstream of the screw trap. A fence weir is operated on this tributary by the Jamestown S’Klallam tribe.

Key Findings
Click on graphs to enlarge

Dungeness River Wild Chinook Sub Yearling Production Graph
  • Downstream migrants of Dungeness River Chinook are mostly subyearlings (travel to sea in their first year), although yearling migrants are also caught each year.
  • Dungeness River Chinook freshwater production has declined since trapping began in 2005.
  • Between 2005 and 2012, sub yearling Chinook freshwater production averaged 55,074 migrants per year. Between 2008 and 2011, freshwater production averaged 12,922 migrants per year.
  • Bars show precision of the measure (95% confidence interval). Measures with smaller bars are more precise than those with larger bars.

Dungeness River Wild Steelhead Production Graph
  • Dungeness River natural-origin steelhead freshwater production has gradually increased between 2005 and 2011.
  • Between 2005 and 2012, average freshwater production has been 34,044 migrants.
  • Bars show precision of the measure (95% confidence interval). Measures with smaller bars are more precise than those with larger bars.

Dungeness River Wild Coho Production Graph
  • Between 2005 and 2012, average freshwater production has been 10,953 migrants.
  • Bars show precision of the measure (95% confidence interval). Measures with smaller bars are more precise than those with larger bars.

Data - data is in MS Excel format

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