Wild Salmon Center Newsletter Fall, 2010
In this issue
- Dam Removal Good News for Wild Salmon in Japan
- State of the Salmon Conference Addresses Wild and Hatchery Salmon
- Tom Brokaw Gives Keynote Address at WSC Spring Dinner
- Notes from the Field: Sport Fishing Exchange in Alaska
- International RiverFoundation Nominates WSC Stronghold
- ALSO: Victory for Clean Water and Salmon in the Tillamook, North American Salmon Stronghold Partnership Annual Meeting, Stronghold Legislation; and Upcoming Events.
WSC and Japanese partners work to remove or modify 31 dams for better fish passage in the Shiretoko World Heritage Site
In 2005, the Shiretoko Peninsula became Japan's newest World Heritage Site, recognized for its unique ecosystems formed by the interaction between marine and terrestrial environments.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature Salmonid Specialist Group (IUCN SSG) was asked to review the nomination proposal submitted by Japan. The Chair of the IUCN SSG, Wild Salmon Center (WSC) staff member Dr. Pete Rand, joined WSC Program Manager Brian Caouette on several trips to Hokkaido to inspect progress on the restoration effort. In their review, the IUCN SSG highlighted the need to address impacts of dams within the site to improve fish passage.
As a result of the recommendations, Japanese officials have been busy implementing restoration projects for the past three years. Of the fourteen streams that have one or more dam structures, 31 (out of 127) structures in five streams were either removed or modified to improve fish passage. Plans for removal had to take into account the high risk of flooding and erosion in the region and modifications were only made where there would not be significant risk to human welfare and livelihood.
The removal of any dam structure is a major undertaking and the successful transition of 31 of the dams in Shiretoko is a testament to the diligence and hard work of our Japanese partners. As Japanese partners noted in their 2009 report, "(it) represents a milestone that encourages further progress."
Since the implementation of the projects, IUCN SSG member Dr. Masahide Kaeriyama has led an effort to monitor the sites. His results show they have succeeded in restoring the run of salmonids upstream in the Rusha River, one of the most productive salmon rivers on the peninsula. While returns upriver are still relatively low, the restoration work will continue as progress is made to reach an ambitious conservation target in the coming years.
The ShiretokoPeninsula is located between the Sea of Okhotsk and Nemuro Strait at the northeastern tip of Hokkaido Island. Twelve species of freshwater fish have been found in the streams of Shiretoko, with six salmonid species naturally reproducing upstream, including chum, pink, masu, and Dolly Varden. They are an important food source for aquatic and terrestrial species and also help support an active commercial fishery in the region.
Portland, OR -- In early May, State of the Salmon hosted over 300 attendees for the first international conference on the topic of ecological interactions between wild and hatchery salmon. Attendees and presenters came from across the North Pacific, including delegations from Russia, Japan, and Alaska. A number of big themes were addressed, including climate change, competitive interactions between salmon stocks in the ocean, critical gaps in our knowledge, and immediate needs for management actions to reduce risks from hatcheries.
Interest in the topic of ecological risks to wild salmon from hatchery operations has been growing dramatically, particularly in the US Northwest where hatchery development has been intense as a result of dam construction and significant habitat loss. Field research has begun to explore and systematically describe interactions between wild and hatchery fish. The purpose of the conference was to channel this rising concern into frank discussion about what is known, what is not known, and how ecological risks can be managed for the future conservation of wild salmon.
Attendees highlighted the value of hearing diverse and impassioned voices and said they came away with a "broader appreciation for the co-evolution of human and hatchery systems …and how issues are changing with respect to carrying capacity, climate change and our global economy."
Dr. Jack Stanford (WSC Board member and University of Montana), in his opening night presentation, made a provocative challenge to identify cases that clearly show that hatcheries have benefited wild salmon. Whereas Jim Martin (Pure Fishing, Inc.) and Paul Lumley (CRITFC) stated that hatcheries are indispensable in meeting trust obligations to tribes and buoying regional fishing communities, particularly in the Columbia River Basin.
The conference closed with a message from Mr. Martin on the importance of being prepared for surprises, as human population increases and the climate changes. And, in his closing address, Dr. Roy Stein (Ohio State University) entreated attendees to look to the north where habitat is still intact and wild salmon are still productive: "It may be that these hatcheries are counter-productive. In these systems, we still have a choice. With these hatcheries, I worry, we are sometimes doing more harm than good."
State of the Salmon is a joint program of the Wild Salmon Center and Ecotrust.
The Wild Salmon Center welcomed Tom Brokaw to its first annual Spring Dinner to celebrate progress and accomplishments in wild salmon conservation across the Pacific Rim. Over 300 guests filled the Portland Art Museum, including Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski, Attorney General John Kroger, former Governor and WSC Board Member John Kitzhaber, as well as a number of attendees from the State of the Salmon Conference.
"It is very heartening to look out across this room and see all the interests that are represented here geographically, politically, and otherwise, but with one great, common heart, and that is the common cause of the preservation of these magnificent species that swim in our oceans, come into our rivers, spawn, and that represent nothing less than the keystone species in this magnificent ecosystem that you all are privileged to live in."
Mr. Brokaw spoke to his own experiences on his Montana ranch and the continuing threats that wild salmon and other species face in the age of population growth and development. In his closing remarks Mr. Brokaw noted, "I would hate to be part of a generation that 100 years from now historians would look back and say -- they lost the salmon. What a commentary that would be on all of us."
See photos and more excerpts from the evening's event.
by Laura Williams, Director of Western Pacific Programs
In June 2010, the Wild Salmon Center and The Fly Shop organized an exchange for Russian sport fishers, hunters, and ecotourism outfitters to visit Alaska. The purpose of the exchange was to introduce outfitters to concepts of private business stewardship, conservation advocacy in salmon strongholds, and the sustainable treatment of resources, including catch-and-release fly fishing.
The exchange included visits to world-class fly fishing lodges in the heart of Katmai National Preserve and the Susitna River Valley, a visit to Resurrection Bay and Kenai Fjords National Park, and meetings with at the National Park Service Alaska Support Office and the Alaska Travel Industry Association.
The Russian outfitters were impressed with the professional level of service of the lodges in Alaska and want to find ways to promote catch-and-release fishing back home, as it is currently not commonly practiced in Russia. Kamchatka outfitters also expressed the desire to launch a travel association similar to that in Alaska to promote fly fishing in their region.
As a result of the exchange, WSC's Russian partners recognized the importance of protected areas for the success of their business and offered their active support in helping WSC finalize the process of creating protected areas in the watersheds where they operate leases. Moreover, they recognized that they, like their Alaskan counterparts, can be stewards and advocates in the Russian Far East for the natural resources that they depend on.
The group concluded that more education, training, and outreach is needed in Russia to promote conservation through ecotourism. They also acknowledged that NGOs like WSC are important partners in attaining these goals.
Sakhalin's Smirnykh RiversPartnership is one of four recognized by the International RiverFoundation
The Smirnykh Rivers Partnership, led by the Sakhalin Environment Watch (SEW), has been selected as one of four finalists for the 2010 International Thiess Riverprize, an internationally recognized award for outstanding achievement and excellence in watershed management. The international partnership also includes Wild Salmon Center, Smirnykh Regional Fisheries Association, Smirnykh Watershed Council, the Plavnik Fishing Company, and the Sakhalin Salmon Initiative.
The Smirnykh Rivers Partnership unifies conservation efforts of three adjacent salmon strongholds in the Smirnykh District of Sakhalin: the Pursh-Pursh, the Vengeri, and the Langeri. Over the past decade some of the last pristine conifer forest and salmon ecosystems on Sakhalin have been protected, supporting healthy wild pink salmon runs, vital to the region’s fishing economy.
Major achievements include the creation of the 166,314 acre Vostochny Nature Reserve, with support from the Whitley Fund for Nature and Pacific Environment, permanently protecting the Pursh-Pursh and Vengeri watersheds and enforcing one of the strictest regimes of ecosystem protection on Sakhalin. In the neighboring Langeri River, the partnership has restored access to salmon spawning grounds, improved water quality in an area impacted by mining, stopped commercial logging, and, with the assistance of the community-based Smirnykh Watershed Council, practically eliminated poaching.
The partnership is also spearheading efforts to receive ecological certification by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) for the coastal salmon fishery supported by the three spawning rivers, demonstrating the fishery's commitment to sustainability.
"We are thrilled to receive recognition for over a decade of effort to conserve Sakhalin's natural treasures," says Dmitry Lisitsyn, Chairman of SEW. "The nomination for the International Riverprize allows us an opportunity to share our work with other groups involved in watershed conservation around the world and learn from their experiences."
The award, sponsored by Australia's International RiverFoundation, recognizes long-term, precedent-setting work in watershed conservation. Sakhalin's Smirnykh Rivers Partnership joins three other prominent rivers as finalists—Hattah Lakes in Australia, the River Thames in England, and the Yellow River in China.
- In a long-awaited decision, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Clean Water Act requires permits for polluted stormwater running off of logging roads in the Tillamook State Forest. Logging road pollution, which has gone unregulated for years, degrades water quality and contributes to the destruction of salmon and their habitat. Read Article. Wild Salmon Center is part of a coalition that is opposing increased clearcutting in Oregon State forests. Read Press Release.
- Over 50 partners attended the North American Salmon Stronghold Partnership annual meeting in Portland, OR. Among the items discussed were prioritization of California salmon strongholds and the pending Pacific Salmon Stronghold Conservation Act. The federal legislation was passed unanimously by the Senate Commerce Committee in June, with no amendments offered.
- September 25: Wilson River clean-up at the Tillamook Forest Center, OR.
- October 11-14: International Thiess River Symposium in Austrailia, hosted by the International RiverFoundation.
- October 25-29: "Salmon Escapement and Aspects of Monitoring" workshop hosted by the Sakhalin Salmon Initiative Center in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk.