RESPONSE TO DOUG DEHART'S AFFIDAVIT SUPPORTING EXTERMINATION OF FALL CREEK COHO
From: Buchal, James
Sent: Tuesday, November 23, 1999 1:51 PM
To: 'Native Fish Society Forum'
Subject: RE: [nativefish] DeHart's Affidavit
Thank you for the copy of Doug DeHarts affidavit. I will attempt to get Nickelsons paper, and if it pans out, along with Dr. DeHarts claims of the parentage of the Fall Creek stock, I will revise my recent"News from the Front" article. (In the meantime, I shall post a copy of this e-mail with the article for balance.)
I am told by Dr. Lannan, however, that the claimed interbasin transfers from Columbia River stocks materialized out of nowhere, having not been listed in a prior ODFW report on the subject, and that if they occurred, they occurred in the 1940s, at a time when the hatchery released fry and fingerlings with such poor survival rates that these ancestors probably have little or no representation in the current gene pool. Dr. Lannan advises that the affidavit is erroneous in other respects.
In any event, the affidavit does not, on its face, contain sufficient detail to convince me that the State should be killing off the fish. As far as I can tell, the Nickelson paper did not performed the experiment suggested by the plaintiffs: let the adults spawn. Dumping hatchery smolts in tributaries is very different from allowing hatchery adults to build redds. Poor emergence timing, if true, might well make theorized adverse effects harmless by killing off most of the emergent hatchery fish. Nor does Dr. DeHart address the extent to which straying over the years has destroyed any notion of a perfectly-adapted wild stock. Genetic sampling of the wild Rogue River coho population shows individuals resembling lower Columbia fish.
Nor does Dr. DeHart address which effect is more important: reduction in fitness from biased spawning timing, among other things, or sheer numbers of fish. It could easily be true that seeding the Basin with 2,000 spawners, even less fit, will quickly resolve into higher numbers of fit fish through natural selection than permitting 100-200 wild fish to attempt to re-seed the basin over decades. Allowing these fish to spawn could have provided the opportunity for a significant experiment that would shed light on the strength of these two effects: my money is on sheer numbers as the fastest route to healthy salmon populations.
Alternatively, if the hatchery run had really evolved significantly, it might have been sufficiently isolated in terms of reproductive timing to establish a continuing distinct run of early returning coho, just as we now have spring and fall chinook in many rivers, the summers having been mostly fished out. One could argue in theory against introducing fall chinook into a spring chinook river on DeHarts grounds.
In sum, the affidavit is too superficial a treatment of the subject for anyone to know whether DeHart is right or not. The suggestion that "overwhelming scientific evidence demonstrates that using a biologically inappropriate hatchery stock for such purposes is unadvisable and will cause substantially more harm than good" is obviously wrong, unless "overwhelming scientific evidence" is taken to mean current, politically-correct "theory". I would also note that DeHarts comments on increased predator densities from hatchery releases are almost wholly irrelevant to whether to allow adult hatchery fish to spawn, and his comment about crossing a chihuahuas with Saint Bernard is pure sophistry.
If DeHarts position were applied generally, all the new tribal hatcheries in the Snake could not go forward, unless they started from scratch with wild only broodstock, which they do not propose to do. Why did DeHart and others in the Department seek to exempt the Tribes from State wild fish policies if those policies are in fact correct?
From: Bill Bakke
Sent: Tuesday, November 23, 1999 10:29 AM
To: Gene Matthews; Jim Anderson; Buchal, James
Subject: [nativefish] DeHart's Affidavit
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IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF OREGON
ALSEA VALLEY ALLIANCE and MARK SEHL
WILLIAM M. DALEY, Secretary of United States Department of Commerce;
NATIONAL MARINE FISHERIES SERVICE; PENELOPE DALTON, NMFS Director; and
WILLIAM STEELE, NMFS Regional Director for the Northwest Region; JAMES W.
GREER, Director of Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, all in their
AFFIDAVIT OF DOUGLAS A. DEHART
STATE OF OREGON )
County of Marion )
I, Douglas A. DeHart, being first duly sworn on oath, depose and say:
I am Fish Division Director of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife
(ODFW). I received a Bachelors Degree in biology from Harvard University
in 1968, a Masters in Fisheries from Oregon State University in 1974 and a
Ph.D. in Fisheries from the University of Washington in 1987. My
professional career has included seven years with the Corps of Engineers
directing fishery research programs; nine years with the National Marine
Fishery Service planning and evaluating fish facilities, including
hatcheries and fish screens; and eleven years with ODFW involved with
supervision of fish production and management programs.
The purpose of my affidavit is: (a) to clarify the reason why coho salmon
have been produced for the last 46 years at Fall Creek Hatchery, and (b) to
describe the rationale for phasing out the production of the current Fall
Creek stock of hatchery coho salmon.
The reason for production of the Fall Creek stock of coho at Fall Creek
Hatchery since the early 1950s was to provide additional coho salmon for
ocean fisheries along the Oregon Coast. A secondary purpose was to provide
additional fish for sport fisheries conducted in Alsea Bay and the Alsea
River basin. This stock of fish was not produced to assist in the
conservation or restoration of naturally reproducing coho salmon. This
management intent is clearly stated on page 62 of the Alsea River Basin Fish
Management Plan jointly developed by ODFW staff and a local public steering
committee in 1997.
As described in the Alsea Basin Fish Management Plan, prior to the early
1990s, the Fall Creek hatchery coho program met its intended fishery
management objectives. For example, from 1984 to 1993 this stock of fish
contributed an average of approximately 6,000 fish to the annual catch of
coho off the Oregon coast. During this same period the annual catch of fish
within the Alsea River Basin has averaged 2,000. Since the return of coho
to the Alsea basin has been approximately 75% hatchery fish in recent years,
the Fall Creek hatchery stock has contributed approximately 1,500 fish
annually to the river and bay fishery.
Coastal stocks of both hatchery and wild coho declined significantly in the
early 1990s. In hopes of reversing these downward trends, both ocean and
river coho fisheries were severely restricted beginning in 1993 to protect
wild fish. These restrictions have continued through 1999. In spite of
these restrictions the downward trend for the Alsea wild coho population has
not been reversed. A record low spawner escapement of only 213 fish was
estimated for the most recent years return (1998).
As a result of substantial constraints on coho fisheries in recent years,
the opportunity to fish for Fall Creek Hatchery coho has been nearly
eliminated. Sport fishing for these hatchery fish in Fall Creek is still
Survival of Fall Creek Hatchery coho smolts has also declined from averages
of about 5 percent through the mid 1970s, to about 0.5 percent in recent
years. This results in fewer fish available during the limited fishing
opportunities. As a result, this program has not met its fishery
enhancement purpose in recent years.
Large numbers of hatchery coho smolts released into the Alsea Basin appear
to adversely affect survival of wild coho. Increased levels of predator
feeding activity have been documented in Alsea Bay at times when high
densities of hatchery coho smolts were present. Wild coho smolts were also
present at those times and were subject to unnaturally high levels the
predation induced by the presence of the hatchery fish. This phenomenon may
have been particularly significant during the recent years of low ocean
productivity because predators are readily drawn to a rich hatchery-produced
food source when other food sources diminish.
The Plaintiffs in this case appear to argue that an alternate use for Fall
Creek hatchery coho would be as natural spawners to help rebuild the wild
population. They claim this is a strong reason why the production of this
hatchery stock should not be discontinued. While ODFW recognizes that
hatcheries can play an important role in the restoration of wild
populations, the overwhelming scientific evidence demonstrates that using a
biologically inappropriate hatchery stock for such purposes is unadvisable
and will cause substantially more harm than good. ODFW has concluded from
both general and specific studies that Fall Creek hatchery stock is
inappropriate for rebuilding the naturally reproducing coho population in
the Alsea Basin.
The coho broodstock that has been used for the Fall Creek hatchery program,
and that produced the adults now returning to the hatchery is an
amalgamation of stocks from many sources and locations, including many
coastal rivers from the Coos to the Trask. Broodstock were also imported
from populations in the lower Columbia River. To survive a full life cycle
under natural conditions a fish must be adapted to the river basin in which
it lives. Creating a hatchery broodstock from a mixture of different
populations is an unlikely way to achieve this local adaptation. The
preferred approach, when natural production is an objective, is to use only
wild fish from the specific river basin where the hatchery stock is to be
used. This was not the approach used to develop the Fall Creek stock of
Even a locally derived hatchery stock can be "domesticated," defeating its
usefulness for rebuilding wild populations. A growing body of scientific
evidence demonstrates that the process of adaptation to the hatchery
environment (domestication) occurs when multiple generations of salmonids
are cultured in the hatchery environment (Reisenbichler and Rubin, 1999),
especially in stocks that have not had continual infusions of genetic
material from wild populations. These studies illustrate that such hatchery
fish used in an effort to boost production of wild fish, can have the
opposite effect and actually impair the restoration of naturally reproducing
fish populations. Domesticated hatchery stocks are not in themselves bad.
They can be an important feature contributing to the success of an efficient
hatchery program designed to produce harvest by anglers. However, they are
poorly adapted to complete their entire life cycle under natural conditions.
The Fall Creek hatchery stock has this type of history, and is now
domesticated. Therefore, these hatchery fish are inappropriate for
rebuilding wild populations, and their use for this purpose would likely fail.
Specific to the Alsea basin, a study conducted by Nickelson et al. (1986)
demonstrated that juvenile hatchery coho from the Fall Creek hatchery stock,
when introduced into wild coho production areas, did not increase the number
of returning adults. In addition, the number of naturally produced
offspring resulting from the spawning of these adults was lower in locations
that had been supplemented with hatchery fish. Adding fish from the Fall
Creek stock of hatchery coho to natural production areas resulted in no more
adults in the first generation, and in the second generation, actually
reduced the number of juvenile coho produced. Therefore, the natural
spawning of the now returning Fall Creek hatchery stock of coho likely poses
a serious risk to the wild population, not a benefit.
The discontinuation of the existing Fall Creek hatchery coho program was
described to the 1999 legislature, which then only authorized continuation
of a modest steelhead hatchery program at the site. It neither authorized
the expenditure, nor made an appropriation of money to operate a coho
hatchery program on Fall Creek. The department has no authority to alter
this legislative policy choice.
The states Wild Fish Management Policy (WFMP) applies to most freshwater
species in Oregon, including coho salmon. It also applies to state
sensitive species, a designation that been made for all coastal populations
of coho salmon. The WFMP includes guidance to the department on how
hatcheries should be managed to conserve the genetic resources of wild fish
(including coho salmon).
Although this guidance provides a way to reduce the risk of hatchery
programs to wild populations, the department also recognizes that hatchery
fish may have a role in restoring and rehabilitation wild populations.
Oregon Administrative Rules (OAR) 635-07-0527(3). When hatchery fish are
used for such purposes, certain restrictions, in terms of stock origin,
level of stock domestication, size of hatchery program, and program
duration, apply. OAR 635-07-527(3) and (2).
Exceptions to these restrictions are possible, but only if strict adherence
to the policy will likely result in the extinction of the population. Based
on the biological information we have for the Alsea basin, strict adherence
to the WFMP is most likely to restore wild coho.
Resource managers must focus on adaptive differences in fish populations to
successfully restore wild salmonid runs. These adaptive differences can be
measured by differences in long-term reproductive success. Whether two
populations have the same taxonomic characteristics is irrelevant. For
example, we would not cross a Chihuahua with a Saint Bernard with the
expectation of producing a working sheep dog, even though all would have the
same taxonomic characteristics. In those instances where detailed
investigations have been performed, hatchery fish are characteristically
found to have less reproductive success under natural conditions than do
Allowing the returning Fall Creek hatchery coho stock to naturally reproduce
would undercut the states goal to manage wild populations in a manner that
will conserve their adaptiveness, genetic diversity, and natural
evolutionary processes as called for in OAR 635-007-0536 (Policies for Wild
Fish Gene Conservation). Interbreeding of naturally produced Alsea coho
with the hatchery produced fish would reduce the wild fishs adaptiveness
and genetic diversity. This is because the hatchery fish return and spawn
within a narrow window of time which is poorly suited for natural survival,
and do not possess the fitness required for successful natural reproduction.
The genetic makeup of a resulting population of mixed wild and hatchery
lineages would dilute the unique genetics of the wild coho that have adapted
for survival in this basin. Rather, the long-term ability to restore wild
coho in the Alsea Basin depends, at least in part, on the ability to prevent
the loss of important genetic resources through dilution with the present
Fall Creek hatchery stock or other stocks with inappropriate characteristics.
The protocol for operation of the Fall Creek hatchery is to open a trap at
the hatchery when the first fish return, usually at the end of October or
early in November. Historically, fish would be selected for brood stock,
killed, and stripped of eggs and sperm. The eggs would then be fertilized
and hatched in the hatchery environment. Fish used for hatchery brood stock
do not spawn naturally. When reared to smolt stage (about eighteen months),
the juvenile fish would be released from the hatchery to migrate to the ocean.
The department hopes to accomplish two important goals by operation of the
trap and sorting facility at the Fall Creek hatchery this year. At the
trap, wild fish are separated from fish of known hatchery origin (identified
by fin mark and/or a coded wire tag). Wild fish are passed above the
hatchery barrier to spawn naturally. Returning fish are monitored to sort
out those hatchery fish with coded wire tags that are part of a double index
tag study described below in paragraph 23. Thus, unless the trap is
operated, 1) we will loose information from the double index tag survey, and
2) we would have no way to sort and pass wild fish above the hatchery to
spawn naturally in preferred coho habitat, which is otherwise blocked by the
hatchery barrier except during high flows periods later in the year.
If we do not operate the trap, the returning hatchery fish will attempt to
find natural spawning areas, thus leading to the greater likelihood of
undesirable hatchery/wild crosses, or hatchery/hatchery crosses occupying
habitat needed for naturally produced fish.
The department has been operating a double index tag study with this group
of fish for the past three years. In this study, a large group of these
smolts were implanted with a coded wire tag in their snout, which can be
detected with a magnetic wand. The group was then subdivided into two
groups, one of which had their adipose fin removed, and the other which did
not. From this study, we expect to be able to determine the differential
effects of ocean fisheries on "hatchery" and "wild" fish, since in the ocean
fishery the fish with adipose fins and the coded wire tag will appear to be
wild fish. If we are unable to recapture these fish, we cannot "read" the
coded wire tag information, and will lost information from this study in
which we have invested approximately $20,000. Because of this study, many
fish returning to the hatchery will not be fin-clipped. Until we have
sorted out the coded wire tag implanted fish, we cannot determine which of
the returning fish are actually of hatchery and which are of wild origin.
The State of Oregon no longer is a party to a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA)
with the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) regarding management of
Oregon Coastal Natural (OCN) coho. By letter dated October 28, 1998, the
state withdrew from the MOA effective when Executive Order 99-01 was filed
with the Secretary of State. Copies of the letter and Executive Order
withdrawing from the MOA are attached to this affidavit as Exhibits 1 and 2.
No other agreement with or program involving NMFS affects the states
operation of this hatchery or the management of these hatchery fish. NMFS
has not published a "4(d)" rule regarding these fish. Until such a rule is
published, there is no "take" prohibition relating to OCN coho populations.
Because these hatchery fish were excluded from the listed populations, even
the publication of a 4(d) rule would not affect the states management of
the hatchery stock.
The State of Oregon was served with the Plaintiffs 60-day notice of intent
to sue the state for an alleged violation of the Endangered Species Act on
October 13, 1999.
DATED this _____ day of TIME \@ "MMMM, yyyy" November, 1999 .
DOUGLAS A. DEHART
SUBSCRIBED AND SWORN to before me this _____ day of TIME \@ "MMMM, yyyy"
November, 1999 .
Notary Public for Oregon
My Commission Expires: ______________
Nickelson, T.E., M.F. Solazzi, and S.L. Johnson. 1986. Use of hatchery coh
salmon (Onchorynchus kisutch) presmolts to rebuild wild populations in
Oregon coast streams. Can. J. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 43:2443-2449.
Reisenbichler, R.R. and Rubin, S.P. 1999. Genetic changes from artificial
propagation of Pacific salmon affect the productivity and viability of
supplemented populations ICES Journal of Marine Scient, 56: 459-466.
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