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
Marine Mammals in Lower Columbia River, Estuary and Nearshore Ocean

BPA project number   5517100

Business name of agency, institution or organization requesting funding

Sponsor type   Placeholder

Proposal contact person or principal investigator
 Mailing address

BPA technical contact   ,

Biological opinion ID   Research M&E Program; hyp C.1.3

NWPPC Program number   5.7B.26, 5.7B.28

Short description
Effects of marine mammals on adult salmon survival.

Project start year   1997    End year   

Start of operation and/or maintenance   0

Project development phase   PLANNING

Section 2. Narrative

Related projects
Limited work by NMFS and Oregon and Washington state agencies on food habits of marine mammals is underway in the Columbia River estuary

Project history

Biological results achieved

Annual reports and technical papers

Management implications
Several studies have documented high prevalences of marine mammal bites/scarring on adult salmon migrating in the Columbia and Snake rivers (e.g., 40+% at BON in 1994; 20+% at LGR in 1994). However, most accounts of marine mammal attacks are anecdotal, and there has yet to be a systematic survey or study of the problem.

Specific measureable objectives

Testable hypothesis

Underlying assumptions or critical constraints

There are several possible approaches to documenting the scope of this problem for both juveniles and adults. The most productive might be a combination of the following: a systematic survey of returning adults to all Columbia Basin hatcheries and a careful evaluation of dam passage observations (see A. DEVELOPMENT OF INFRASTRUCTURE in the NMFS Research Monitoring and Evaluation framework) to document the magnitude of the problem in adults; a survey of marine mammal distribution in the estuary and lower river; and an evaluation of food habits (by gastric lavage and enemas) of populations suspected to be active predators (ideally this would serve to identify whether predation on smolts may also be a problem). If these studies document that marine mammal predation is a significant source of mortality to either juvenile or adult salmon, the more difficult question of lethal v. non-lethal control must be addressed (if non-lethal control is even feasible). The Recovery Plan [Tasks No. 2.8.b.4)-2.8.b.9)] recommends study of pinniped predation and control of that predation.

Brief schedule of activities

Biological need

Critical uncertainties

Summary of expected outcome

Dependencies/opportunities for cooperation


Monitoring activity
1. Marine mammal abundance (see Hyp. C.1.3).

Marine mammals, protected under the Marine Mammals Protection Act, are increasing at compound rates near 10%, which translate to population doubling each 7-8 years. Their role in reducing survival of adults may be substantial. At minimum, annual surveys should maintain data on population status of harbor seals and sea lions.

2. Adult monitoring at BON, MCN, LGR (see Hyp. C.1.3).

NMFS observers at LGR have recorded fractions of spring chinook bearing marine mammal scarring and wounding as approaching 30%. Incidence of scars and wounds appears much lower for other salmon run components. Adult condition and wound incidence should be recorded for each run component at BON, MCN, and LGR. These data may help clarify the degree to which wounded fish suffer higher mortality than intact fish.

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: 500,000
1998: 500,000
1999: 500,000
2000: 500,000
2001: 500,000

* 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   System Policy

Recommendation    Tier 2 - fund when funds available

Recommended funding level   $500,000