BPA Fish and Wildlife FY 1997 Proposal

Section 1. Administrative
Section 2. Narrative
Section 3. Budget

see CBFWA and BPA funding recommendations

Section 1. Administrative

Title of project
Consumptive Sturgeon Fishery-Hells Canyon/Oxbow

BPA project number   5504100

Business name of agency, institution or organization requesting funding
Nez Perce Tribe

Sponsor type   ID-Tribe

Proposal contact person or principal investigator
 NameDavid P. Statler
 Mailing addressNPT Department of Fisheries Resources Mgmt.
P.O. Box 365
Lapwai, ID 83540
 Phone208/476-7417

BPA technical contact   , EWI

Biological opinion ID   

NWPPC Program number   10.4A.5

Short description
Evaluate the potential for a put-and-take sturgeon fishery at Hells Canyon and Oxbow Reservoirs, including the production of test fish at the existing Nez Perce Tribe sturgeon rearing facility, Clarkston, WA, and contracted fish production, if needed.

Project start year   1997    End year   2006 (ongoing production/monitoring)

Start of operation and/or maintenance   2001

Project development phase   Implementation

Section 2. Narrative

Related projects
Project 8605000 - Evaluate Rebuilding Snake River Sturgeon (Hells Canyon Dam-Lower Granite Dam) has been ongoing since FY1995, and is located immediately downstream from the project area. Both projects address reestablishment of harvest opportunities for white sturgeon in the Snake River.

Project history
As of FY1996, this project has remained unfunded. The cost share value from use of the existing Nez Perce Tribe sturgeon rearing facility, Clarkston, WA, is in excess of a million dollars.

Biological results achieved
Project unfunded through FY1996. No biological results achieved.

Annual reports and technical papers
Project unfunded through FY1996. No reports or technical papers completed.

Management implications
The knowledge gained from this project would take advantage of a unique opportunity to use a hatchery production program to create a consumptive sturgeon fishery with virtually no impact to naturally spawning sturgeon populations. This would allow the first directed harvest of white sturgeon in the project area since 1970. The knowledge gained regarding captive rearing and pre- and post-release growth, condition, survival, flesh toxicity and tag retention may be useful for prospective sturgeon supplementation programs to mitigate for hydrosystem impacts in other regions of the Columbia Basin.

Specific measureable objectives
Annual harvest of 250 sturgeon > 3 feet in length in both Hells Canyon and Oxbow Reservoirs Management objectives may be modified as study information becomes available.

Testable hypothesis
Post-release instantaneous natural mortality (M) would be near .13, identified by Lukens (1985) for sturgeon below Hells Canyon Dam.
Instantaneous fishing mortality (F) would at least .7.
Total instantaneous mortality (Z) would be .83.
Annual growth of post-release sturgeon would average at least 6 cm.
Rearing conditions in Hells Canyon Reservoir can support an average annual population of about 530 sturgeon from 95 cm to 125 cm.

Underlying assumptions or critical constraints
It is assumed that levels of toxic contaminants in the water column and/or in sediments will not compromise the suitability of stocked fish for human consumption.

Methods
1) and 2) A detailed study plan will be formulated during the first year of the project, after funding is made available. A brief summary of anticipated study elements follows: Test fish of Columbia/Snake River stock will be reared at the Nez Perce Tribe sturgeon facility, Clarkston, WA. Standard hatchery statistics and records will be kept via Fish Hatchery Management, Piper et al., 1989.
Test fish will be marked prior to release via PIT tag, external tag and an additional external mark.
Test fisheries will be intensively surveyed (harvest, catch rates, effort) via Fisheries Techniques by Neilsen and Johnson, editors, 1983.
Length, weight and associated structural indices will be monitored through the fishery and direct sampling via Fisheries Techniques by Neilsen and Johnson, editors, 1983.
3) 300 white sturgeon stocked annually in Hells Canyon Reservoir.
300 white sturgeon stocked annually in Oxbow Reservoir. BRIEF SCHEDULE OF ACTIVITIES: This is a new question. Describe major project tasks for 1997 and significant changes in project activities for 1998-2001. Information in the discontinued PLAN field above may be useful here.

Brief schedule of activities
1997 - Initial rearing of test fish
1998 - Initial rearing of test fish.
1999 - Initial release and analysis.
2000 - Initial release and analysis.
2001 - production rearing and fishery monitoring.

Biological need
Fishing for white sturgeon in the Idaho has been limited to catch and release sin 1970 due to depressed populations. Catch and release fishing does not serve the subsistence and cultural needs of the Nez Perce Tribe. Resident fish harvest opportunities are becoming more important to the Nez Perce Tribe due to the endangered status of native salmon.
Hells Canyon and Oxbow Reservoirs are closed systems with respect to sturgeon. There has been no natural recruitment of sturgeon in either of these two reservoirs since construction. Population remnants are very weak. Fishable populations in the immediate project area may be restored through hatchery intervention. Without hatchery intervention, the sturgeon populations in both reservoirs will likely disappear. This project represents an extremely rare and unique opportunity to conduct a hatchery based tribal/non-tribal consumptive fishery for white sturgeon with virtually no impact to naturally spawning populations.

Critical uncertainties
Genetic uniqueness/similarity of current white sturgeon populations in the Snake River system to downstream Columbia River sturgeon populations.
The extent to which isolation of once free ranging Snake River sturgeon populations has affected genetic diversity.

Summary of expected outcome
Annual combined harvest of 500 sturgeon > 3 feet in length from Hells Canyon and Oxbow Reservoirs, with no impact to naturally spawning sturgeon populations.

Dependencies/opportunities for cooperation
Per NPPC Program measure 10.4A.5, this project will be conducted in consultation with appropriate state agencies and tribes, including the Idaho Department of Fish and Game and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. A standing agreement among the Nez Perce Tribe and the Asotin County PUD for use of an abandoned water treatment facility for sturgeon production will programmatically and economically benefit all parties involved. Because an existing facility is involved, NEPA documentation is not anticipated to be a constraint.

Risks
With any hatchery program, there are risks of mortality/disease that must be contained through effective hatchery production management.

Monitoring activity
Production at the Nez Perce Tribe sturgeon rearing facility, Clarkston, WA, will be monitored by keeping hatchery statistics and records as described in Fish Hatchery Management, Piper et al., 1989. Test fish will be marked prior to release via PIT tag, external tag and an additional external mark. Test fisheries will be intensively surveyed (harvest, catch rates, effort). Length, weight and associated structural indices will be monitored through the fishery and direct sampling.

Section 3. Budget

Data shown are the total of expense and capital obligations by fiscal year. Obligations for any given year may not equal actual expenditures or accruals within the year, due to carryover, pre-funding, capitalization and difference between operating year and BPA fiscal year.

Historic costsFY 1996 budget data*Current and future funding needs
(none) New project - no FY96 data available 1997: 239,000
1998: 250,000
1999: 250,000
2000: 250,000
2001: 250,000

* For most projects, Authorized is the amount recommended by CBFWA and the Council. Planned is amount currently allocated. Contracted is the amount obligated to date of printout.

Funding recommendations

CBFWA funding review group   Resident Fish

Recommendation    Tier 2 - fund when funds available

Recommended funding level   $239,000