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Puget Sound Chum Salmon
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Chronology of Annual Fishery Management Activities

"Fish Management is an ugly business. I don't know why anybody would want to get involved in it. Nobody's ever happy with your work: you're setting harvest levels too high or too low; you're favoring them over us; and you may say you've been working for years to maintain the health of a stock, but we know you've actually been trying to destroy it. Its thankless, dirty work."
Sam Smith (editor) The Fisherman's News (12/96)

The above quotation is largely true: salmon fishery management can be controversial, extremely complicated, and is nearly always a thankless task. On the other hand, because fishery management has a major role in the stewardship of the state's great salmon resource, it is usually very rewarding to those personally involved.

The primary goal of salmon management is to preserve the future of the resource by assuring that the necessary numbers of adult salmon reach the spawning grounds each season. Any fish in excess of spawning needs are allocated to a variety of other uses, including various fisheries and the support of ecological values.

The following chronology outlines the typical activities that must be accomplished to successfully manage Puget Sound chum salmon. Fishery management is a continuous process, so the chronology follows a typical calendar year, from January through December. It is not a schedule of events, but rather is a list of the general time periods during which specific management activities are typically ongoing.

Two basic elements contribute directly to the management process: stock assessment (including estimation of escapement and runsize, and the development of preseason forecasts), and the planning and management of fisheries. The activities listed below are accomplished cooperatively by technical and policy staff members of WDFW and the Puget Sound Treaty Tribes.

It is important to note that the following actions are only those that contribute directly to the fishery management process, and do not include all activities conducted by WDFW and the tribes to support chum salmon. There are many other programs that are important components for maintaining successful chum salmon production, including: stock recovery activities, habitat management, hatchery production, scientific research, public education and outreach, and enforcement.

JANUARY
Stock Assessment Activities
  • Assemble the hatchery and cooperative project artificial production release data for all Puget Sound wild and hatchery stocks of summer, fall, and winter chum salmon.
  • Complete preliminary runsize forecasts for all Puget Sound wild and hatchery stocks of summer, fall, and winter chum salmon.
  • Complete spawning ground surveys for fall chum salmon in streams throughout Puget Sound.
  • Enumerate spawners returning to hatchery racks, supplementation streams, and cooperative projects.
  • Begin spawning ground surveys for winter chum salmon in south Puget Sound tributaries (Puyallup, Nisqually, and Chambers systems).
  • Complete collection of scales (for age determination) and tissue samples (for genetic stock identification in various fisheries, at hatchery racks, and from spawning grounds.

Fishery Management Activities

  • Review the results of the previous year's fisheries.
  • Review fish ticket information and resolve any outstanding discrepancies in the data.
  • Produce post-season reports of commercial seasons, catches, and regulation activities.
  • Identify issues that may require particular management attention in the next year.
FEBRUARY
Stock Assessment Activities
  • Continue spawning ground surveys for winter chum salmon in south Puget Sound tributaries (Nisqually and Chambers systems).

Fishery Management Activities

  • Convene the first public meeting of the year to discuss expectations for the upcoming year's chum salmon stocks and fisheries, including the review of recent escapement and fishery trends.
  • Begin review of run size update methodology.
  • Hold WDFW Commission meeting to adopt the annual recreational fishing rules.
  • Attend first public meeting of PFMC/NOF (Pacific Fisheries Management Council/North of Falcon) annual salmon management planning processes; presentation of preliminary run size estimates; receive initial public input.
  • Develop a "base" package for initial fishery plan modeling, and discuss results with Salmon Advisory Groups.
  • Coordinate planning of Puget Sound fisheries for chum salmon with Canada, especially for fishing areas where Canadian stocks are known to migrate
MARCH
Stock Assessment Activities
  • Complete spawning ground surveys for winter chum salmon in south Puget Sound tributaries (Nisqually and Chambers systems).
  • Begin estuarine chum salmon fry abundance surveys in Puget Sound beach index areas.

Fishery Management Activities

  • Attend State/Tribal technical meetings to reach agreement on modeling methods and assumptions.
  • Begin running harvest rate models on proposed fishing schedules to predict catch and by-catch.
  • Conduct two statewide and a number of regional meeting with the public and tribal co-managers to plan salmon fisheries for the upcoming year.
  • Attend public meetings to discuss seasons and regulations (first PFMC meeting; regional follow-up informational meetings; first and second NOF meetings).
APRIL
Stock Assessment Activities
  • Develop escapement estimates for all Puget Sound wild stocks of summer, fall, and winter chum salmon, based on spawning ground counts made the previous year.
  • Continue estuarine chum salmon fry abundance surveys in Puget Sound beach index areas.

Fishery Management Activities

  • Attend final PFMC/NOF meeting; seasons and regulations set.
  • Complete State/Tribal Agreements Document outlining all salmon fisheries planned for the year.
  • Complete the pre-season fishery planning process that largely defines salmon fishing seasons for the year.
  • Insert recreational chum salmon fishing rules into current year's sport fishing pamphlet.
  • Provide public mailing describing recreational fishing regulation adoption process, and request for proposals for the next year.
MAY
Stock Assessment Activities
  • Continue estuarine chum salmon fry abundance surveys in Puget Sound beach index areas.

Fishery Management Activities

  • Provide recreational fishing regulation pamphlet "Fishing in Washington" to the public.
  • Update data bases of historic catch and run size tables used in annual Puget Sound commercial salmon fishing mail-out.
  • Create calendar table of expected commercial fisheries for current year.
  • Prepare draft of Puget Sound commercial salmon fishing mail-out.
  • Refine in-season abundance forecast methods to allow updating abundance estimates during the season where possible.
JUNE
Stock Assessment Activities
  • Assemble and analyze the past year's age composition data (from scale analysis) for all Puget Sound wild and hatchery stocks of summer, fall, and winter chum salmon.
  • Complete estuarine chum salmon fry abundance surveys in Puget Sound beach index areas and summarize data.

Fishery Management Activities

  • Review and update the Puget Sound commercial salmon fishing regulation pamphlet.
  • Finalize, and distribute the Puget Sound commercial salmon fishing mail-out containing: historic catch and run size tables, calendar table of expected commercial fisheries, and commercial regulation pamphlet with maps of catch areas and exclusion zones.
  • Update commercial fishing links on agency website.
  • Finalize plans for monitoring programs during the fall fisheries, including programs to estimate by-catch of non- target species.
  • Hold public meetings to accept proposals for recreational fishing regulations for the next year.
JULY
Stock Assessment Activities
  • Develop total runsize estimates for the previous year (run- reconstruction database) for all Puget Sound wild and hatchery stocks of summer, fall, and winter chum salmon, based on escapements and harvests.
  • Develop escapement goals for all wild and hatchery chum salmon stocks.
  • Complete final runsize forecasts for all Puget Sound wild and hatchery stocks of summer, fall, and winter chum salmon.

Fishery Management Activities

  • Complete preparation and upkeep of monitoring equipment, and necessary supplies ordered.
  • Consult, as needed, with biometrics staff for review and design of monitoring programs and special studies.
  • Respond to Pacific Salmon Commission (PSC) fishing plans, as appropriate (hire sampling staff for monitoring summer chum by-catch in sockeye fishing openings).
  • Begin implementing the fall fishery monitoring and data collection programs for various salmon species.
AUGUST
Stock Assessment Activities
  • Begin spawning ground surveys for summer chum salmon in south Puget Sound, Hood Canal, and Strait of Juan de Fuca streams.

Fishery Management Activities

  • Respond to PSC fishing schedule (sockeye and pink salmon fishing openings) to monitor summer chum by- catch.
  • Implement special fishery management programs to release non-target catches of chum salmon (e.g., Hood Canal summer chum salmon).
  • Closely monitor fisheries that intercept summer chum salmon.
  • Review of recreational fishing regulation proposals for the next year by WDFW staff.
SEPTEMBER
Stock Assessment Activities
  • Continue spawning ground surveys for summer chum salmon in south Puget Sound, Hood Canal, and Strait of Juan de Fuca streams.
  • Enumerate spawners returning to hatchery racks, supplementation streams, and cooperative projects.
  • Collect scales (for age determination) and tissue samples (for genetic stock identification in various fisheries, at hatchery racks, and from spawning grounds.

Fishery Management Activities

  • Complete staffing for fall commercial fishery monitoring projects.
  • Monitor any further PSC openings for sockeye and pink salmon, and monitor Quilcene Bay coho-directed beach seine fishery for chum by-catch.
  • Develop recommended recreational fishing regulation proposals for the next year. Director reviews and approves proposals.
OCTOBER
Stock Assessment Activities
  • Complete spawning ground surveys for summer chum salmon in south Puget Sound, Hood Canal, and Strait of Juan de Fuca streams.
  • Enumerate spawners returning to hatchery racks, supplementation streams, and cooperative projects.
  • Continue collection of scales (for age determination) and tissue samples (for genetic stock identification in various fisheries, at hatchery racks, and from spawning grounds.

Fishery Management Activities

  • Provide support personnel for tribal south sound chum salmon test fishery.
  • Train and deploy observers to monitor fall commercial chum salmon fisheries for catch and by-catch.
  • Monitor commercial wholesale fish buyers and "soft data" system to track in-season commercial catch and effort.
  • Analyze in-season fishery data: conference with co- managers to interpret catch and effort trends, produce agreed-to updates of run sizes (where data allow and management needs require), run allocation models and adjust fishing schedules to ensure conservation and allocation entitlements are met.
  • Draft and enact emergency regulations for adjustments (extensions or restrictions) in fishing schedules.
  • Mail approved recreational fishing regulation proposals to the public for review and comment.
NOVEMBER
Stock Assessment Activities
  • Begin spawning ground surveys for fall chum salmon in streams throughout Puget Sound.
  • Enumerate spawners returning to hatchery racks, supplementation streams, and cooperative projects.
  • Continue collection of scales (for age determination) and tissue samples (for genetic stock identification in various fisheries, at hatchery racks, and from spawning grounds.

Fishery Management Activities

  • Continue in-season monitoring and regulation adjustments, as necessary for conservation and allocation, to ensure that allowable chum harvest levels are not exceeded.
  • Hold WDFW Commission Workshop on recreational fishing rules for the coming year.
DECEMBER
Stock Assessment Activities
  • Continue spawning ground surveys for fall chum salmon in streams throughout Puget Sound.
  • Enumerate spawners returning to hatchery racks, supplementation streams, and cooperative projects.
  • Continue collection of scales (for age determination) and tissue samples (for genetic stock identification in various fisheries, at hatchery racks, and from spawning grounds.

Fishery Management Activities

  • Complete fishery monitoring and regulation activities for fall chum.
  • Compile and summarize monitoring data for the fishing season.
  • Compile and summarize preliminary catch data for the fishing season.
  • Hold WDFW Commission meeting to receive oral testimony from the public on recreational fishing rules for the coming year. Written testimony is also accepted.