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March 2004 Comprehensive Management Plan for Puget Sound Chinook: Harvest Management Component

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

Date Published: March 01, 2004

Number of Pages: 253

Author(s): Puget Sound Indian Tribes and WDFW

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY:

This Harvest Management Plan outlines objectives that will guide the Washington co-managers in planning annual harvest regimes, as they affect listed Puget Sound chinook salmon, for management years 2004 - 2009. These objectives include total or Southern U.S. exploitation rate ceilings, and / or spawning escapement goals, for each of fifteen management units. This Plan describes the technical derivation of these objectives, and how these guidelines are applied to annual harvest planning.

The Plan guides the implementation of fisheries in Washington, under the co-managers' jurisdiction, but it considers the total harvest impacts of all fisheries, including those in Alaska and British Columbia, to assure that conservation objectives for Puget Sound management units are achieved. Accounting of total fishery-related mortality includes incidental harvest in fisheries directed at other salmon species, and non-landed chinook mortality.

The fundamental intent of the Plan is to enable harvest of strong, productive stocks of chinook, and other salmon species, and to minimize harvest of weak or critically depressed chinook stocks. However, the Puget Sound ESU currently includes many weak populations. Providing adequate conservation of weak stocks will necessitate foregoing some harvestable surplus of stronger stocks.

The rebuilding exploitation rate (RER) objectives stated for management units (Table 1) are ceilings, not annual target rates. The objective for annual, pre-season fishery planning is to develop a fishing regime that will exert exploitation rates that do not exceed the objectives established for each management unit. For the immediate future, annual target rates that emerge from pre-season planning will, for many management units, fall well below their respective ceiling rates. While management units are rebuilding, annual harvest objectives will intentionally be conservative, even for relatively strong and productive populations.

To insure that the diversity of genetic traits and ecological adaptation expressed by all populations in the ESU is protected, low abundance thresholds are specified (Table 1). These thresholds are intentionally set above the level at which a population may become demographically unstable, or subject to loss of genetic integrity. If abundance (i.e., escapement) is forecast to fall to or below this threshold, harvest impacts will be further constrained, by Critical Exploitation Rate Ceilings, so that escapement will exceed the low abundance threshold or the ceiling rate is not exceeded.

Rebuilding exploitation rates are based on the most current and best available information on the recent and current productivity of each management unit. Quantification of recent productivity (i.e., recruitment and survival) is subject to uncertainty and bias. The implementation of harvest regimes is subject to management error. The derivation of RERs considers specifically these sources of uncertainty and error, and manages the consequent risk that harvest rates will exceed appropriate levels. The productivity of each management unit will be periodically re-assessed, and harvest objectives modified as necessary, so they reflect current status.

Management
Unit
RER Upper
Management
Threshold
Low
Abundance
Threshold
Nooksack 1 Under
development
4,000  
  North Fork 2,000 1,000
South Fork 2,000 1,000
Skagit summer / fall 50% 14,500 4,800
  Upper Skagit summer   8,434 2,200
Sauk summer   1,926 400
Lower Skagit fall   4,140 900
Skagit spring 38% 2,000 576
  Upper Sauk   986 130
Cascade   440 170
Siuattle   574 170
Stillaguamish 1 25% 900 650
  North Fork summer   600 500
South Fork & MS fall   300 N/A
Snohomish 1 21% 4,600 2,800
  Skykomish   3,600 1,745
Snoqualmie   1,000 521
Lake Washington 15% PT SUS    
  Cedar River 1   1,200 200
Green 15% PT SUS 5,800 1,800
White River spring 20% 1,000 200
Puyallup fall 50%   500
  South Prairie Creek   500  
Nisqually   1,100  
Skokomish 15% PT SUS 3,650 aggregate
1,650 natural
1,300 aggregate
800 natural
Mid-Hood Canal 15% PT SUS 750 400
Dungeness 10% SUS 925 500
Elwha 10% SUS 2,900 1,000
Western JDF 10% SUS 850 500
1 thesholds expressed as natural-origin spawners

This Plan is being considered by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), for approval under the conservation standards of the Endangered Species Act. Criteria for exemption of state / tribal resource management plans from prohibition of the 'take' of listed species, are contained under Limit 6 of the salmon 4(d) Rule (50 CFR 223:42476). The 4(d) criteria advocate that harvest should not impede the recovery of populations, whose abundance exceeds their critical threshold, from increasing, and that populations with critically low abundance be guarded against further decline, such that harvest will not significantly reduce the likelihood of survival and recovery of the ESU. This Plan assures that the abundance of all populations will increase, if habitat conditions improve to support increased productivity, and that the harvest will be conducted more conservatively than required by the ESA.

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