Comments on Draft NOAA Technical Recovery Team Documents Identifying Independent Salmonid Populations Within Evolutionarily Significant Units

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This is the Independent Scientific Advisory Board's review of the Interior Columbia River Technical Recovery Team (TRT) document "Independent Populations of Chinook, Steelhead, and Sockeye for Listed Evolutionarily Significant Units within the Interior Columbia River Domain". NOAA Fisheries' Northwest Fisheries Science Center requested this review on September 10, 2003.

The ISAB answers the two questions posed by the Science Center:

  1. Are the approaches for identifying independent populations reasonable, given the data available?
  2. Do the conclusions flow logically from the data and analyses presented?

In the ISAB's answer to the first question, the ISAB makes recommendations that it believes would improve the analysis and clarity specifically of Independent Populations of Chinook, Steelhead, and Sockeye for Listed Evolutionarily Significant Units within the Interior Columbia River Domain.

In the ISAB's answer to the second question, the ISAB did not restrict itself to a narrow consideration of whether the TRT used the data available in a scientifically rigorous manner in this specific instance. Rather, the ISAB describes its understanding of the relationship between the legal ESA designations —ESU, independent population, and subpopulation — and spatially structured metapopulations. The ISAB identifies technical approaches to making management decisions, such as defining management units, under conditions of uncertainty. Finally, the ISAB recommends that a more precise set of quantitative definitions is needed to guide the TRTs before the suitability of the independent population designations can be assessed. The ISAB hopes its comments are useful not only to the Interior Columbia TRT effort but to the TRT effort in general.

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