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ESA-listed Hood Canal Summer Chum Salmon: A brief update on supplementation programs, natural-origin vs. supplementation-origin returns, and recovery

Category: Fish/Shellfish Research and Management - Management and Conservation

Date Published:  2008

Number of Pages: 15

Author(s): Thom H. Johnson, Kyle Adicks, Chris Weller, and Tim J. Tynan

ABSTRACT:

Hood Canal summer chum (including the eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca) were listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in 1999. Recovery planning and implementation were underway prior to the listing, with harvest reductions and supplementation programs enacted in the early 1990’s. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and Point No Point Treaty Tribes distributed the Summer Chum Salmon Conservation Initiative (SCSCI) in April 2000. The initiative described a comprehensive plan for the implementation of summer chum salmon recovery in Hood Canal and eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca. The Summer Chum Recovery Plan, prepared by the Hood Canal Coordinating Council, incorporated the harvest and artificial production management provisions of the SCSCI and also addressed habitat protection and restoration. The Recovery Plan was formally adopted by National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) under rule 4(f) of the Endangered Species Act in March 2007.

Run sizes of summer chum have been on the rise since the mid-1990’s, with some of the highest returns on record occurring in recent years. Supplementation programs have succeeded in reducing the extinction risk of several stocks that were at critically low levels prior to supplementation and these stocks have demonstrated strong returns of both supplementation-origin and natural-origin fish in recent years. Reintroduction programs also appear to be succeeding, with natural-origin spawners returning to three streams where summer chum had been extinct for more than 10 years.

Interim recovery goals for summer chum have been developed by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Point No Point Treaty Tribes – the fish resource co-managers in the summer chum region - based on historic population sizes, and include abundance, escapement, productivity, and diversity targets. Summer chum populations are not yet meeting the Co-managers’ abundance-based recovery goals, due in part to the requirement that all stocks must meet recovery abundance thresholds over a period of 12 years. The outlook for summer chum, however, is much brighter than it was just 10 years ago, based on recent increased abundances and other indicators.