The 2013 Public Certification Report for the Alaska salmon fisheries was released on November 12, 2013. The report identified three conditions to improve the fishery:
- Effects of hatchery chum on wild chum – Potential effects of introgression (interbreeding between hatchery and wild fish) on the fitness of wild chum salmon need to be evaluated.
- Strategies for reducing hatchery straying – To reduce impacts of hatchery fish on wild stock, management should develop and implement strategies for reducing straying of hatchery chum.
- Remote hatchery releases – Hatchery fish are sometimes released ‘remotely’ at sites where wild salmon populations do not naturally occur. However, these fish may stray to wild spawning areas, and thus straying rates and methods for reducing straying from remote release sites are needed.
An Action Plan and timeline to address these issues was developed by PSVOA with assistance from ADF&G, and the plan was approved by the assessment team prior to release of the Public Certification Report. The fitness study (Condition 1) was granted an extended timeline because the ADF&G study plan identified the need to evaluate pink salmon data through 2018 and chum salmon data through 2023 due to the species life history.
Condition 1: Evaluate effects of SEAK hatchery chum salmon on fitness of wild chum salmon.
The objective is to assess the effects of SEAK hatchery chum on the fitness of wild chum stocks.Read More
ADF&G and others launched a study in 2012 that aims to estimate the effect of introgression (interbreeding between hatchery and wild fish) on the fitness of wild chum salmon, and PSVOA will provide a report on the study. PSVOA will also commission detailed independent peer reviews of the study plan, to determine its suitability for investigating fitness impacts. Recommendations of the peer reviewers will be presented to ADF&G for consideration. If hatchery straying is found to have negative effects on wild fish, PSVOA will develop a plan to reduce straying.
Condition 2: Implement strategies for reducing hatchery straying and demonstrate their efficacy.
To meet the intent of this condition, ADF&G and associated entities will monitor straying of hatchery chum salmon in NSI streams.Read More
PSVOA will review these efforts and provide information regarding the proportion of hatchery chum on the wild spawning grounds. PSVOA will also provide a report on strategies for reducing straying following consultation with hatchery operators and ADF&G. The goal is to demonstrate that management is effectively controlling the level of hatchery straying.
Condition 3: Evaluate effects of remote releases on hatchery straying in SEAK.
The assessment team concluded that a key issue is the remote releases of chum, Chinook, and coho salmon, where hatchery produced juveniles are transported to locations that lack wild salmon populations.Read More
The juveniles are reared in net pens and then released, so they can be captured by the fishery when they become adults. Although remote releases are promoted as a practice that can reduce hatchery impacts on wild populations, some data suggest that remotely released fish show higher straying rates. The objective is to evaluate straying rates in remotely released salmon and develop approaches for reducing hatchery straying.
PSVOA will review ongoing efforts by ADF&G to estimate numbers of wild and hatchery chum harvested in mixed stock fisheries, particularly where the proportion of hatchery fish is likely to be more than minimal. This includes reviewing the extent to which remotely-released hatchery chum salmon stray to wild spawning areas. PSVOA will prepare a risk assessment on Chinook and coho straying (based on straying rates, release numbers, harvests of local hatchery Chinook and coho, and local wild salmon abundance), and design field studies to estimate chum straying in selected streams. They will also consider methods for reducing straying from remote release sites.