For more information on fisheries management, please contact the WDFW Fish Program.



Steelhead Management Plan

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In 2004, the Director of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife challenged the agency to develop a scientific foundation for a Statewide Steelhead Management Plan (SSMP). The scientific foundation for the SSMP comes from the Department’s steelhead science paper “Oncorhynchus mykiss: Assessment of Washington State’s Anadromous Populations and Programs” (Draft February 2, 2008), which provided several findings and recommendations to rebuild Washington’s wild stocks. The findings and recommendations represent the underpinnings of the Statewide Steelhead Management Plan.

The steelhead management plan is necessary because in spite of seventy years of conservation efforts directed at the state’s steelhead stocks, many of these stocks are at a fraction of their historic numbers. Five of the seven distinct population segments that exist in Washington are currently federally listed under the Endangered Species Act.

Public review of O mykiss and the SSMP as well as comments and concerns expressed during the SEPA process contributed to the management plan. The plan provides a framework of policies, strategies, and actions that present overarching guidelines for department managers to collaborate with tribal co-managers and other interested parties, including watershed and regional groups, in the development of watershed and regional management plans (RMPs). RMPs will identify the long-term goals, benchmarks for modifications to management actions, escapement objectives, and the expected trajectory for the diversity, spatial structure, productivity, and abundance of each wild stock within its management area.

Policies, strategies and actions in the plan apply to steelhead program operations as well as administration. Steelhead operations include chapters dealing with natural production, habitat protection and restoration, artificial production, and fisheries management. These chapters explain how the Department will deal with steelhead and their habitats and are strongly interrelated.

Steelhead administration includes policy decisions that affect the administration of operations programs related to steelhead and their habitats. These chapters provide guidance to the Department for decisions affecting regulatory compliance, monitoring, evaluation and adaptive management, research and outreach & education programs. Their implementation increases the probability of success for the operations policies.

A summary of the policies for each chapter can be found under Goals and Policies following the Introduction. The Policy Statement for each chapter is shown in a box at the beginning of the chapter. Each chapter contains a short narrative followed by the strategies and actions to support achieving the goals and policies.