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 DeHart’s affidavit. I will attempt to get Nickelson’s paper, and if it pans out, along with Dr. DeHart’s 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 DeHart’s 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 DeHart’s 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 DeHart’s 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?

-----Original Message-----

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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WILLIAM M. DALEY, Secretary of United States Department of Commerce;


WILLIAM STEELE, NMFS Regional Director for the Northwest Region; JAMES W.

GREER, Director of Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, all in their

official capacity,

CaseNumber 99-6265-HO



) ss.

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 Bachelor’s 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 1950’s 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

1990’s, 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 1990’s. 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 year’s 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

allowed, however.

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

hatchery coho.

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 state’s 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

wild fish.

Allowing the returning Fall Creek hatchery coho stock to naturally reproduce

would undercut the state’s 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 fish’s 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 state’s

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 state’s management of

the hatchery stock.

The State of Oregon was served with the Plaintiff’s 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 .





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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