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200724900 - Evaluation of Live Capture, Selective Fishing Gear

Sponsor: Colville Confederated Tribes

Budgets: FY07: $394,600 | FY08: $254,800 | FY09: $264,000

Short description: The project will evaluate promising live-capture, selective fishing gears to increase harvest of target species while conserving weak stocks. Results will be applicable to other tributary and mainstem locations.

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Final Council recommendation (Nov 2006)

Funding category: Expense

Recommended budgets: FY07: $130,000 | FY08: $185,000 | FY09: $185,000

Comment: 1 year only, need to submit the sampling design (year 1) to the Council before out year commitment. ISRP fundable qualified: address ISRP comments during contracting.

ISRP final recommendation: Fundable (Qualified)

Comment:

Overall, this is a well-written proposal, and the problem addressed is an important one. The proposal might require minor clarifications and adjustments to methods and objectives in the final selection process. The final sample design is dependent on the results of ongoing work by WDFW in 2006, a review by ISRP, and hiring of key personnel. A major strength of this proposal is that the proponents looked at a range of issues related to feasibility: safety, cost, etc. The proposal would be even stronger if issues of economics, property rights, and bycatch mortality had been addressed. The fish wheels are likely to be the most successful of the proposed gear types. This could be confirmed by direct (on the ground) consultations with people who have used this gear elsewhere. The fish wheel in western Washington (low cost) should be purchased if in situ testing is recommended. It might be possible to test the wheel in the first year of the project and if it is successful perhaps the net traps might not be needed. The ISRP does not recommend funding the fish stress evaluation study. At a minimum, the proponents should provide more explanation as to why physiological studies are necessary at this initial stage of feasibility evaluation. The proponents should be more specific about how hatchery fish will be identified. Are all hatchery fish marked? The budget is high, and more explanation should be provided for the "personnel" category (why 2.5 FTE? Who? What will they do?). The boat purchase also needs explanation. Why is purchase necessary? Are charter options available? Additional comments and questions by reviewers are listed below: Technical and scientific background: The background provides a thorough description. The point is made that one problem with gillnets and tangle nets is that high water temperatures make catch and release infeasible. It would be helpful to have a little more explanation of this problem as well as how water temperature issues play out differently with the different gears. For example, what is the nature of the problem and why isn't it also a problem with pound nets, net traps, or fish wheels? The ecological and genetic (supplementation and hatchery) aspects of the bycatch problem are explained well. Many references are made to a non-peer reviewed report by Beamesderfer et al. (2005) wherein a model is used to forecast benefit of selective fishing. It would have been useful to have this apparently key document linked to the proposal. Tasks (work elements) and methods: Many of the tasks involve coordination, permitting, and development of a research plan, data collection, and analysis. The tasks are reasonable for this approach. They include documentation of operational characteristics, safety and costs, which indicates recognition that feasibility is more than a question of technical possibility. The mesh sizes of the proposed by catch reduction devices (floating trap nets and fish wheel) are not given. These data are important for an assessment of the non-target species that the gear would catch. The proposal does not specify how hatchery fish are distinguished from wild fish, presumably the former are adipose clipped, but what is the current mark rate? Or is that part of the design (which is not finalized)? Methods for evaluating fish injury and stress are to be similar to those in the WDFW proposal (200710700). This degree of coordination is laudable; however, the ISRP does not recommend funding the stress evaluation at this initial stage of evaluation. A research design is not yet finalized, and so some aspects of this proposal are plans to develop a plan. The final design for the proposed study is dependent on ongoing 2006 projects by WDFW and ISRP review. Monitoring and evaluation (M&E): The proposal contains several elements of monitoring and evaluation of gear performance. Another project’s M&E program (200302200) will apparently be used to determine the effects of the selective harvest program on escapement of target and non-target species. A description of this M&E program would be helpful in this proposal. The final design of the study is needed before ISRP can assess the adequacy of the proposed M&E. Facilities, equipment, and personnel: Equipment is adequately explained, except for the boat purchase. The proponents indicate that they will seek used boat, but have budgeted for new one. The ISRP recommends options for purchasing fishing gear and other equipment at a low cost. A discussion of range of options for obtaining boat services would be helpful. More explanation of the "personnel" budget line is needed. Key staff have yet to be hired and named. Information transfer: Results are to be published in unspecified outlet. The proponents will make demonstrations of gear available to others. What are the proponent’s plans for release and long-term storage of data and meta-data? Non-focal species: The proposal should be augmented with a discussion of by catch of non-salmonids and non-focal species. A number of species could suffer mortalities, depending on mesh size, water temperature, etc. What is the fish community in the reaches of the Columbia River where the deployments are planned? The project may affect Bull Trout and other non-focal species. The proposal would be improved by a plan to monitor and evaluate bycatch of non-focal species.

State/province recommendation: MS: Recommended Action

Review group: MSRT

Recommended budgets: FY07: (n/a) | FY08: (n/a) | FY09: (n/a)

Comment: Tribal members of the MSRT expressed their concern about selective harvest. This may potentially be considered a conservation action in the 2006 Biological Opinion. This project is tied to the Chief Joseph Hatchery project for collection of brood stock.