ADDITIONAL WILLAPA THOUGHTS

ADDITIONAL WILLAPA THOUGHTS

As we approach the end of the comment period on the Willapa Management Plan (WMP) I would urge all to submit your thoughts. Even if it is down to you object to the allocation of 80% plus to commercial fisheries or the fact that, well whatever your thoughts are. The Commissioners are a pretty straight up group of folks and I am sure they will consider your thoughts be it Rec or Commercial. Now I said consider not adopt but it is important for all to put forth their thoughts as one can always support a consensus or compromise position if one materializes on down the road. Frankly I have always felt that a individuals personal perspectives add far more to review and discussion of issues than just the mass rubber stamping of policy. So participate folks it is your right as a citizen.   Here is the link to Commissions website and comment link.  WDF&W Commission   If you need help finding information e mail me and I will do what I can to assist your effort.

 

OK down off the stump.  Here are a couple of interesting things out and about. First up the segregated vs integrated stocks and below is verbiage from HSRG.

 

 From HSRG June 2004 HSRG/WDFW/NWIFC Technical Discussion Paper #1: Integrated Hatchery Programs June 21, 2004.

Formal Definition: A hatchery program is a Segregated Type if the intent is for the hatchery population to represent a distinct population that is reproductively isolated from naturally-spawning populations.

Formal Definition: A hatchery program is an Integrated Type if the intent is for the natural environment to drive the adaptation and fitness of a composite population of fish that spawns both in a hatchery and in the wild.

 

Now in the AHA model they switch back and forth calling the Willapa ( Forks Creek ) Chinook or Naselle segregated dependant on the model option run. Frankly the only Chinook production in the Willapa that could, should, and is segregated is Nemah production. So a lot of conversation & confusion around this one at the moment.

 

Next up is the developing of which stream to call primary in the  Willapa Estuary. The primary stream requires lower hatchery influence and better (PNI) which is simply wild stock into the hatchery spawn and limited straying of hatchery origin returning adults.

 

Now this can or not be of varying degrees of importance depending on the context of the conversation so here are the HSRG definitions.

 

What the HSRG uses: (LCRSRP);
Primary—biologically significant, core, key, highly viable, important to recovery. Historically were a large segment of the population structure. Need to be at low risk of extinction.
Contributing– of some significance, are viable but lower in abundance than Primary. Contribute to diversity.
Stabilizing—a population, but may not have ever been a large segment of the population structure.

 

So at present Naselle is primary but two of the options WDF&W developed have Willapa becoming prime. Good idea or bad? For myself I started out as thinking switching was in the bad column until I did the pluses and minus thing. So here goes............

 

On the plus / minus bit  Willapa prime in the AHA model runs has a good chance of success. The HSRG guidelines are most likely going to require a reduction to the 350k Chinook production regardless if it is prime so the lower production mathematically works out to compliance with HSRG. With the lower production of Chinook it will create somewhat of and increase to in protection of North River Chinook. Additionally Willapa is close but not equal to Naselle in habitat and rearing capacity. The down  side is it could affect harvest but the reduction 350K Chinook smolt is likely if Willapa is prime or not. Add to the mix that we have a four year investment in Naselle as prime that you're walking away from.

 

At Naselle as I said we have a four year investment in Naselle as prime and a lot of effort ( at least some ) has went into managing as prime. Additionally Naselle is likely the largest stream in the Willapa Estuary in Chinook habitat and rearing capacity. Now the downside. The hatchery weir is taken out in Mid October and prone to failure. The PNI (natural spawning genes into the hatchery production) is literally in the toilet and getting enough Natural Origin Spawners (NOS)  to turn this around is going to be difficult to say the least. HSRG identifies the cure for this problem as not mining the NOS returns to bolster the hatchery PNI but cut production until the hatchery can comply with HSRG then increase production with HSRG standards.

 

So at the moment I am leaning toward Willapa as prime  not because it is a superior stream but because it has a higher probability of  success as production cuts are nearly a given at Forks Creek. Naselle as prime has the potential and likelihood of struggling to meet HSRG standards and as a second tier Contributing stream it is allowed a lower PNI and higher stray rate.  Above all I would like to see  HSRG reforms succeed so in the end like it or not I slowly moved toward Willapa prime.

 

It certainly is a far more complex and multifaceted issue than I originally thought. So as the WMP process goes forward  look at the issue of the Willapa Estuary Chinook Primary stream. I think this is one of those issues that the more divergent views that are in the mix the better off we and the fish will be.

  

 

 

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