. 2000 For the first time in 125 years, the National Marine Fisheries Service requires Hatchery and Genetic Management Plans be written for each hatchery in the Columbia Basin. The primary purpose of the HGMP is to provide a single, comprehensive source of information regarding anadromous salmonid hatchery programs. The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) will use this information in its Endangered Species Act (ESA) processes to assess impacts on listed anadromous fish. An additional, important purpose of the plans is the creation of a source for comprehensive hatchery program information for use in regional fish production and management planning by federal, state, and tribal managers.
. 2001 Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife adopt a recovery management plan for lower Columbia River coho salmon. The NMFS considers these fish as a candidate for listing, but have taken no action to list them.
2001 A federal judge in Oregon rules that NOAA Fisheries, a federal agency, could not define salmon as including both hatchery and wild salmon but then only protect the wild salmon under the ESA. As a result, the judge removed protection for Oregon coastal coho salmon. Rather than appealing the “Hogan decision,” NOAA Fisheries decided to re- evaluate the status of every federal listed salmonid species in the Pacific Northwest, and began rewriting their hatchery policy. See 2004
. 2001 NMFS concludes that even though the Columbia River hydropower system contributes to salmonid mortality, it is much lower than in the 1970s , and “the hydropower system may no longer represent the most important factor leading to the present low smolt to adult survival.” (Williams et al. 2001).
. 2002 In response to the “Hogan decision” industry and private property rights groups petition the federal government to take all salmon and steelhead off the Endangered Species Act list. The environmental groups submitted petitions to protect only the wild portion of 15 salmon and steelhead groups. The federal government accepts both the petition to delist and to list only wild salmonids. The petition to list only wild salmonids was rejected.
. 2003 NOAA Fisheries convened a team of scientists to update the biological status of all 27 groups of listed salmonids in the Pacific Northwest. They found that none of these groups had improved and that three had declined since they were originally listed under the ESA.
2003 Judge Redden ruled that the federal government could not conclude that they were adequately protecting salmon from dam operations on the Columbia River. He remands the 2000 Biological Opinion to NOAA Fisheries to make it consistent with federal law.
2003 Representative Norm Dicks of Washington State launched a new requirement to mark all hatchery fish in the Interior Appropriations Bill signed by President Bush in February. Hatchery fish reared in federal hatcheries or paid for with federal money are to be marked. This is normally done by removing the adipose fin near the tail on the dorsal side of the fish. A salmon or steelhead with a missing adipose fin is legal to take home. This law continues to be opposed by state and tribal fish mangers and was never fully implemented.
2003 NOAA Fisheries proposes lower Columbia River for listing as a threatened species and proposes to change the listing of upper Columbia River steelhead from endangered to threatened.
2003 In response to the Congressional request for an evaluation of federal hatcheries in the Columbia River Basin (1997) the Power Planning Council issues a report on hatcheries. This report includes all hatchery programs in the Columbia basin not just federally funded ones. The report finds the following: 1) Many segregated hatchery programs contribute significantly to wild spawning populations, despite the intention to separate hatchery and wild fish. The amount of mixing was unknown in a third of segregated programs. In addition, 41 percent used non-local broodstock and 63 percent transferred or released fish from outside the stream system. 2) Harvest remains the primary reason for hatchery programs in the Columbia River Basin. This is particularly the case in the lower river. 3) Identification of hatchery funding is a complex issue because most programs are funded from a variety of direct and indirect sources.4) Information on the number of recruits per spawner was collected for less than 5 percent of programs, smolt-to-adult
survival figures were available for 35.6 percent of programs, escapement figures were collected for 20.7 percent of programs, and about 33 percent of programs had information on escapement. http://www.nwppc.org/library/2003/2003-17.htm
2003 The Oregon Legislature diverts $4 million from habitat funds to establish a research salmon hatchery proposed by ODFW to make hatchery salmon like wild salmon. The money was committed to this project prior to the development of an operational or research plan. In addition, ODFW does away with its habitat division and fires the program administrator.
. 2003 The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife reforms its Wild Fish Policy (1978) and adopts a Native Fish Conservation Policy to provide conservation management plans for all native fish populations in the state and requires a complete stock status assessment. http://www.dfw.state.or.us/nfcp/NFCP_091203.pdf
. 2004 Columbia River flows at The Dalles Dam are 10% higher and winter flows are 3% lower than 1900 conditions. (Gedalof et al. 2004)
2004 The federal government (NOAA Fisheries) in response to Judge Redden proposes a new draft Biological Opinion on the federal hydroelectric dams in the Columbia River to include these dams as part of the natural ecosystem of salmon, thus removing them for from jeopardy evaluation for recovery of ESA-listed salmon.
2004 The federal government (NOAA Fisheries) proposes a hatchery policy that includes hatchery salmon as a listed species along with wild salmon. The hatchery salmon would be included in the listing determination. This proposal advances the idea that hatchery and wild salmon are equal and the same. http://www.nwr.noaa.gov/reference/frn/2004/69FR31354.pdf
2004 An independent scientific group invited to help develop the NOAA Fisheries new hatchery policy recommended that hatchery salmon should not be listed. NOAA Fisheries rejected their input and the scientists had to publish their findings in Science to get their recommendations out to the public. They said do not list hatchery fish along with wild salmonids under the ESA.
2004 The NOAA Fisheries public hearing on the proposed hatchery and listing policy in Portland, Oregon is delayed because it would take place when President George W. Bush is in Portland on a re-election campaign swing.
2004 The lower Columbia River Salmon recovery Plan identifies 21 separate populations of chinook salmon within the tule component of this ESU. The populations in this ESU are thought to have been greatly affected by out-of-basin hatchery strays. Recovery of tule fall chinook depends upon more selective and reduced harvest in the ocean and in the Columbia River as well as separating naturally spawning hatchery fish from wild tule fall chinook.
2004 The Native Fish Society asks NOAA Fisheries and ODFW to conduct harvest accounting to evaluate the effect of harvest on the status and recovery of ESA-listed salmon. The NOAA Fisheries says the accounting is needed but takes no action. ODFW, however, says that it will begin this evaluation at the end of 2004.
2004 The Native Fish Society compiles information on remaining wild salmonids in the Northwest, but discovers there is no specific documentation. The criteria is to identify those wild salmonids that have no direct hatchery fish releases or a hatchery fish stray rate of 5 percent or less. Because the wild populations are not identified and have no specific program for conservation management, the region is unable to maintain or protect the legacy of biological diversity that has evolved over the last 40 million years.
2004 The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife develops the first comprehensive stock status report for all native fish in Oregon.
2004 There is no indication that the Washington Wild Salmonid Policy, adopted in 1997, has been implemented. The WDFW is recommending that the promise of future management actions be use to recover lower Columbia River wild coho salmon rather than have them listed as an endangered species. http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/wsp/wsp.htm
2004 A $12 million fish slide is prepared for Ice Harbor Dam on the Snake River. A prototype was tested at Lower Granite Dam and credited with improving the survival of juvenile salmon. It also uses less water than spill, which excites BPA because the “wasted water” can be run through the turbines to make electricity that BPA sells. Each of the federal dams is to be fitted with this new fish slide. Independent evaluation, however, says that survival improvements for salmon and steelhead smolts are not statistically significant.
2004 Every spring eight million hatchery steelhead smolts are released to migrate to the ocean by Idaho Fish and Game. About 1.1 million or 14 percent of these juvenile fish do not have their adipose fin clipped off. When the steelhead return as adults, the unclipped hatchery steelhead are left in the rivers to spawn naturally. When unclipped hatchery fish stray into other watersheds they cannot be removed legally by angling, yet they interbreed with wild fish in those watersheds reducing the reproductive success of the wild population, many of which are listed under the ESA.
2004 The Bush Administration proposes to remove 80% of the critical habitat designation for ESA-listed salmonids on the West Coast.
. 2004 The Technical Review Team for the lower Columbia and Willamette rivers publish a status report for salmonids. They find that all spring chinook and winter steelhead populations are either at very high risk or high risk of extinction and that there are no wild populations that are viable.
. 2005 Oregon and Washington fish management agencies propose to increase the kill of ESA- listed wild winter steelhead in the lower Columbia and Willamette rivers from 2% of the run to 6% in order to gain access to harvest more hatchery spring chinook in the commercial fishery. The Washington fish and wildlife commission supports an increase to 4% while the Oregon commission rejects the proposed increase, keeping it at 2%.
2005 The Department of Fisheries and Oceans publishes the first wild salmon policy draft for public comment in British Columbia.
2005 Research results sponsored by the City of Portland (2005) indicate that naturally produced spring chinook subyearlings rear in the lower Willamette in the urban part of the river and are concentrated along shallow natural beach areas in the winter and spring.
2005 Canada scientists recommend Okanogan River Chinook salmon be listed as an endangred species under the Species At Risk Act. (The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada, May 6, 2005)
2005 Fish agencies do not count wild spring chinook in the Columbia River basin as these fish move past the dams or in the Willamette River over the falls. They estimate the number of ESA-listed fish rather than measure actual numbers. Not all hatchery chinook in the Columbia are marked so an accurate count of wild chinook is not possible. The Willamette wild chinook count is not required by the state fish agency.
2005 On June 16th NMFS issues its final hatchery policy, its final updates of ESA listings for 16 West Coast salmon populations and extends for six months a final decision on Oregon Coast coho salmon and ten populations of steelhead.
2005 Lower Columbia River Coho Added as “Threatened.” The lower Columbia River coho, which had previously been denoted a “candidate” species, was listed as “threatened” in the final determination, increasing the total ESUs listed from 26 to 27. (see 1991 and 1999) http://www.nwr.noaa.gov/AlseaResponse/20040528/hlp_esufs6_05.pdf
2005 Federal judge James Redden rejects NMFS Hydro Biological opinion and remands it to the agency to fix so that salmon are protected. He previously rejected the 2000 Biological opinion and now the one that replaced it in 2004.
2007 Federal Judge rules against NMFS on upper Columbia River steelhead listing. NMFS wanted to count hatchery fish and say the steelhead qualified for threatened status rather than endangered. The judge said that only natural fish count under the ESA and upper Columbia River steelhead are listed as an endangered species.
2007 Federal Magistrate rules in favor of Oregon Coastal Coho listing under the ESA following a review of NMFS proposal to not list coho salmon based on the ODFW coho salmon assessment. The magistrate relied on science in the decision saying that NMFS acted were relisted in 2008 as a threatened species.
2007 In April BPA sold more power from Columbia River dams than it could produce and it could not buy more in the market to cover the shortfall. A cold snap increased the power demand so BPA, in the middle of the salmon smolt outmigration to the sea, cranked up the turbines to produce power to cover its shortfall. Judge Redden, who is overseeing the hydro-salmon case, learned about what happened only through an anonymous phone message. The judge said, “BPA’s sales commitments to customers always trump its obligation to protect ESA listed species. This was a marketing error and ESA-listed fish paid the price. This, the law does not permit.” (Milstein, The Oregonian June 21, 2007)
2007 Federal Judge James Redden says the federal plan to protect salmon at federal dams falls so far short it may be worse for salmon than the two plans he’ already rejected. The judge warned the government that it is unlikely they will get another chance to do the right thing for salmon. The judge said “I instructed federal defendants to consider all mitigation measures necessary to avoid jeopardy (to salmon), including removal of the four lower Snake River Dams, if all else failed. I also instructed the federal defendants to ensure that any mitigation measures are reasonably certain to occur.” But the judge was disappointed again by the government plan and said “…federal defendants seem unwilling to seriously consider any significant changes to the status quo dam operations.” (Milstein, The Oregonian, Dec 11, 2007)
2008 This proposed agreement between the Bonneville Power Administration, the Army Corps of Engineers, the Bureau of Reclamation and four Columbia River tribes would provide the tribes with $900 million over ten years. In exchange for this money the tribes agree to not seek removal of federal dams or to take legal action to enforce federal Clean Water Act regulations covering gas bubble disease or water temperatures that affect the survival of salmonids. Nearly $1 billion would be added to the $9 billion already spent on salmon recovery with no measurable benefit to salmon, nonetheless, this money is very important to the agencies and tribes involved with salmon recovery programs. Three Columbia River tribes signed this “Accord”.
2008 The Coastal Conservation Association is formed by Gary Loomis to protect wild salmon and regulate harvest so that only the most selective fisheries are allowed to harvest salmon.
2008 As a result of NMFS’s continuing review, “we have taken action to reduce the total exploitation rate on tule fall chinook from 49% in 2006 to 42% in 2007 and then to 41% in 2008.” (NMFS Guidance Letter to PFMC March 3, 2009) The NMFS requests that PFMC harvest not exceed 38% in the 2009 ocean fishery. The NMFS based this harvest rate reduction on the Coweeman River fall chinook stock which is believed to have less hatchery influence and to be relatively productive. However, Grays River tule fall chinook are exposed to the same harvest rate and scientific evaluation concludes this natural stock has a low tolerance for harvest. The Grays River tule fall chinook harvest rate ranges from zero to 8% impact.
2008 Lower Columbia River wild coho are found in only a few streams. They have a history of being overharvested (605 to 90%) and to compensate for the decline of natural spawners the states of Oregon and Washington have released hatchery fish in the tributaries to boost natural production. A more scientifically sound approach to harvest and hatchery impacts on wild coho after they were listed as a threatened species in 2005. The NMFS guidance letter to PFMC requests that the total exploitation rate limit on lower Columbia River coho not exceed 13.0%. (NMFS Guidance Letter to PFMC March 3, 2009) This harvest impact is 12% higher than it was in 2008, but it is justified on models developed by the states who regulate harvest for their constituents. The NMFS questions these models and requests that the states refine their models to “ensure that it addresses the needs of priority populations in particular and all populations in general.”
. 2008 The Hatchery Science Review Group (HSRG) has been reviewing all hatchery programs in the Columbia River basin with the purpose of improving protection of wild salmon and steelhead. The HSRG is proposing to either block hatchery fish from spawning naturally with wild fish or integrating hatchery and wild salmonids so that the reproductive fitness of the wild population is not excessive. One proposal for hatchery programs in the lower Columbia River is to build weirs on tributaries to keep hatchery fish from spawning naturally with wild salmonids.
. 2009 In 1980 Congress created the Northwest Power Planning Council and its purpose is to balance hydroelectric supply with salmon production. In the last 27 years since the first fish and wildlife program was adopted and a goal was set to double the runs of salmon and steelhead, the Council is now reviewing whether the abundance can grow to 5 million fish. Since the program was first adopted most salmon and steelhead in the Columbia River basin have been listed under the Endangered Species Act. The Council takes recommendations from state, federal and tribal fish agencies and the public, runs them through a scientific filter and proposes actions to be funded by the Bonneville Power Administration. Since the program was started about $9 billion have been spent to recovery salmon with no measurable effect.