- Fish/Shellfish Research and Management
- Fish/Shellfish Research and Management -- Management and Conservation
Published: February 17, 2022
Author(s): Puget Sound Indian Tribes and The Washington Department Of Fish And Wildlife
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 2023-2024 through 2032-2033. Harvest regimes will be developed to achieve stated objectives (i.e., total or Southern U.S. exploitation rate ceilings, and / or abundance thresholds) 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 considers 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 4-1) are not target rates. Pre-season fishery planning will develop a fishing regime which does not exceed the ER ceilings for any management unit. Projected exploitation rates that emerge from pre-season planning will, for many management units, be lower than 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 4-1) are set well above the critical level associated with demographic instability or with loss of genetic integrity. If escapement is projected to be below this threshold, harvest impacts will be further constrained, by lower Critical Exploitation Rate ceilings, to increase escapement. Additionally, for some management units in the Plan, a Point of Instability (or Lower bound) has been defined which requires further harvest constraints below the Critical Exploitation Rates to be developed, based on co-manager agreement.
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 which exceed their critical threshold, and that populations below critical status should be guarded against further declines, such that harvest will not significantly reduce the likelihood of survival and recovery of the ESU. Specifically, the individual criteria in Limit 4 of the salmon 4(d) rules are addressed in the following locations:
- Criteria (A) – Chapter 3 addresses Population structure and identifies populations incorporated as Management Units. Additional information on individual populations and populations incorporated within a management unit can be located in Appendix A (Management Unit Profiles).
- Criteria (B) – Appendix A (Management Unit Profiles) describe current population status’ in terms of critical and viable statuses consistent with VSP parameters.
- Criteria (C) – Escapement and/or exploitation rate objectives are defined for each population or Management Unit in Chapter 4 and Appendix A (Management Unit Profiles).
- Criteria (D) – Chapters 4 and 6 and Appendix A (Management Unit Profiles) describe the rationale describing the harvest management strategies expectation to not appreciably reduce the likelihood of survival and recovery of the ESU.
- Criteria (E) – A description of the monitoring components and evaluation are provided in Chapter 7.
- Criteria (F) – Chapter 7 also provides for expectations for reporting on monitoring requirements to evaluate harvest objectives and assumptions.
- Criteria (G) – Enforcement expectations are included in Chapter 5.
- Criteria (H) – Harvest objectives in Chapter 4 and implementation rules in Chapter 5 describe how harvest restrictions are utilized to minimize take of listed fish.
- Criteria (I) – Considerations for other Federal harvest plans, court proceedings, international obligations, are addressed in Chapter 2.
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 (Shared Strategy for Puget Sound 2007).