April 2010 Comprehensive Management Plan for Puget Sound Chinook: Harvest Management Component


Published: April 12, 2010

Pages: 237

Author(s): Puget Sound Indian Tribes and WDFW

2010 Plan Update

The Puget Sound Chinook Harvest Management Plan defines conservation goals for state and tribal fisheries that catch Puget Sound chinook salmon, which are listed for protection under the federal Endangered Species Act. Under that law, no fisheries affecting Puget Sound Chinook can occur without a conservation plan approved by NOAA Fisheries. The 2004 version of the plan expired in April, 2010.

Revised Harvest Plan submitted to NOAA Fisheries

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and the Puget Sound Treaty Indian Tribes submitted a revised Harvest Management Plan to NOAA Fisheries in April of 2010. This revision included modifications made to the previous revised plan submitted in November 2009, based on initial review and discussions between NOAA and the co-managers.

NOAA is currently evaluating the revised Harvest Plan under Limit 6 of the salmon 4(d) rule. That evaluation process is expected to be completed during the summer of 2010. Puget Sound salmon fisheries occurring between May 1 and July 31, 2010 received ESA coverage under a biological opinion issued under Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act, covering programs administered by the Bureau of Indian Affairs that support tribal salmon fisheries in Puget Sound.

Draft revision of Plan submitted to NOAA Fisheries

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and the Puget Sound Treaty Indian Tribes submitted a draft revision of the Harvest Management Plan to NOAA Fisheries in November of 2009, for coverage of fisheries beginning in May, 2010.

Executive Summary

This Harvest Management Plan will guide the Washington co-managers in planning annual harvest regimes, as they affect listed Puget Sound Chinook salmon, for management years 2010 - 2014. Harvest regimes will be developed to achieve stated objectives (i.e., total or Southern U.S. exploitation rate ceilings, and / or spawning escapement goals) for each of fifteen management units. This Plan describes how these guidelines are applied to annual harvest planning.

The Plan guides the implementation of fisheries in Washington, under the co-managers‘ jurisdiction, but also accounts for harvest impacts of other fisheries that impact Puget Sound Chinook, including those in Alaska and British Columbia, to assure that conservation objectives for Puget Sound management units are achieved. Accounting total fishery-related mortality includes incidental harvest in fisheries directed at other salmon species, and non-landed 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. Providing adequate conservation of weak stocks will necessitate foregoing some harvestable surplus of stronger stocks.

The Exploitation Rate (ER) ceilings stated for each management unit (Table 1) are not target rates. Pre-season fishery planning will develop a fishing regime that does not exceed the ER ceilings for each management unit. Projected exploitation rates that emerge from pre-season planning will, for many management units, be lower their respective ceiling rates. While populations are rebuilding, annual harvest objectives will be intentionally conservative, even for relatively strong and productive populations.

To further protect populations, low abundance thresholds (Table 1) are set above the critical level associated with demographic instability or loss of genetic integrity. If escapement is projected to below this threshold, harvest impacts will be further constrained, by lower Critical Exploitation Rate ceilings, to increase escapement.

Exploitation rate ceilings for some management units are based on estimates of recent productivity for component populations. Productivity estimates (i.e., recruitment and survival) are subject to uncertainty and bias, and harvest management is subject to imprecision. The derivation of ER ceilings 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.

Criteria for exemption of state / tribal resource management plans from prohibition of the =take‘ of listed species, are contained under Limits 4 and 6 of the salmon 4(d) Rule (50 CFR 223:42476). The 4(d) criteria state that harvest should not impede the recovery of populations whose abundance exceeds their critical threshold, and that populations with critically low abundance should be guarded against further decline, such that harvest will not significantly reduce the likelihood of survival and recovery of the ESU.

The abundance and productivity of all Puget Sound Chinook populations is constrained by habitat conditions. Recovery to substantially higher abundance is primarily dependent on restoration of habitat function. Therefore, the harvest limits established by this Plan must be complemented by the other elements of the Comprehensive Recovery Plan that address degraded habitat and management of hatchery programs.

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