Wild Salmon Center Newsletter Spring, 2010
In this issue
- US Salmon Stronghold Legislation Moves Forward
- Salmon Stronghold Briefing and Short Film Premiere
- Notes from the Field: Salmon Park Takes Shape on Sakhalin Island, Russia
- First Canadian Salmon Stronghold
- Sakhalin Salmon Initiative Making a Difference One Watershed at a Time
- Hoh River Trust Protects 7,000 Acres in Washington
- Russian Sport Fishers Take on Salmon Conservation
- ALSO: Oregon State Forests Take a Hit on Earth Day, The Effects of Seismic Testing on Salmon and Calendar of Events.
The Pacific Salmon Stronghold Conservation Act moves forward
Washington, D.C.--The Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard in the Senate Commerce Committee heard testimony on April 15 for legislation that will address a missing component in current federal salmon policy—conservation of healthy wild salmon ecosystems.
The Pacific Salmon Stronghold Conservation Act (S. 817) would direct federal resources toward conservation of abundant, productive, and diverse salmon ecosystems("salmon strongholds") as a complement to recovery of threatened and endangered populations. This legislation aims to restore a core tenet of conservation biology to federal salmon policy: protect the best. Scientists agree that conservation of healthy wild salmon populations and functioning watersheds is critical in light of climate change and other challenges that wild salmon populations face.
The hearing featured panelists from a wide array of perspectives on salmon conservation and management, including Dr. Gordon Reeves, Research Fish Biologist with the U.S. Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station; Sara LaBorde, Assistant to the Director of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife; Joe Childers, President of the United Fishermen of Alaska; and Guido Rahr, President of the Wild Salmon Center.
"Conservation is most successful when proactive actions are directed at protecting populations before they decline and protecting ecosystems before they are degraded," Gordon Reeves told the subcommittee. "Nearly 30 percent of the West's estimated 1,400 native salmon and trout populations have been lost, and a third of the remaining populations are listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act," continued Reeves.
"This bill recognizes that while we must continue to invest in recovery, in the face of increasing development and climate change, it is also critical to ensure that we maintain watersheds that are currently functioning and productive," commented Guido Rahr. "If we get this piece wrong--if we don't protect the strongholds--we won't have healthy salmon runs in 30 or 40 years."
Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA), lead sponsor of S. 817, presided over the hearing. Senator Mark Begich (D-AK) also attended the hearing and spoke in favor of the bill. "Protecting the salmon strongholds we have now saves money and fishing jobs over the long-term as we won't have to spend billions of dollars later to restore and rebuild the fisheries," Begich said. "Alaska produces 44 percent of the world's salmon--it's a precious resource we must work together to protect."
The Senate Commerce Committee scheduled a mark up to review the text of the legislation in June of 2010.
The Wild Salmon Center hosted a Congressional briefing and film premiere at the U.S. Capitol on April 21st. Speakers at the event included Congressman Mike Thompson (CA-1); Valdis Mezainis, Director of U.S. Forest Service International Programs; Robert Glenn Ketchum, iLCP Fellow; and Guido Rahr, President of the Wild Salmon Center.
The briefing was held in conjunction with the premiere of a short film on salmon strongholds, produced by WSC and the International League of Conservation Photographers. "Strongholds: Hope for wild Pacific salmon" features world class photography and remarks from leaders on wild salmon conservation across the North Pacific. Watch Now!
Sakhalin Island, Russia
by Daniel Nelson, Program Associate, Western Pacific
Draped in white and bordered by a frozen Lutoga River, nothing was stirring at the site of the future Sakhalin Salmon Park when I dropped by for a late winter visit with SSI Center Director Sergey Didenko. But within the walls of the Aniva Mayor's office, just 15 miles away, government officials, scientists, teachers, and NGOs engaged in lively discussions about the future of the project-an important milestone for both social-economic development and environmental education on Sakhalin.
One of six projects of the SSI Center, the Sakhalin Salmon Park will be an investment in salmon-focused environmental education for the region'’s residents and visitors. Over 15,000 people are expected to visit the park annually, including local schoolchildren participating in the SSI’s Salmon Watch program. The adjacent Artek Children's Camp will also be renovated to provide even more options for education and recreation.
Following exchanges between Oregon and Sakhalin with participation of U.S. Forest Service, the concept of the Sakhalin Salmon Park has been modeled in part after the Cascade Streamwatch Aquatic Education and Interpretation Center in Oregon. A Sakhalin architectural design firm has completed the architectural layout of the future park. The Salmon Park will include a wooden building built in traditional Russian style, as well as an interpretive hiking path, classroom facilities, and interactive displays.
At the meeting in the Aniva District Adminstration, a working group was formed and the park received endorsement of the government, businesses, and local community.
Construction of the Sakhalin Salmon Park is estimated to begin in late-summer 2010.
BC's Harrison River is identified as a salmon stronghold
In 2009, our partners in Canada, the Pacific Fisheries Resource Conservation Council (PFRCC), announced the identification of the Harrison River as British Columbia's first wild salmon stronghold. The announcement followed an extensive population assessment led by PFRCC, which determined that the Harrison is the largest salmon producing tributary of the Fraser River sustaining healthy populations of five salmon species, as well as steelhead and dolly Varden.
"We believe that the Salmon Stronghold concept offers a new pro-active vision for wild salmon conservation," said Mark Angelo, Chair of PFRCC.
The Harrison River basin will serve as a pilot stronghold, allowing Canadian partners opportunities to demonstrate the stronghold approach as they seek funding for population assessments throughout the remainder of the Fraser Basin. Several major habitat protection projects are currently on the drawing board in the Harrison. Stronghold status will provide a rallying point for local residents, communities, First Nations, fishing, and environmental interests to collaborate on appropriate conservation strategies and leverage support for implementation. The Harrison stronghold also represents an important step toward establishing international partnerships in support of stronghold conservation.
The Hoh River Trust secures permanent protection for salmon stronghold
The Hoh River Trust, an independent conservation group founded by Western Rivers Conservancy and the Wild Salmon Center, announced last month that after ten years of work the group has permanently protected over 7,000 acres on the Hoh River. These efforts have yielded almost complete protection of the Hoh's main stem, extending from the river's mouth at the Hoh Indian Reservation to its protected headwaters within Olympic National Park. Several key tributaries are also protected, and efforts to expand protection of these critical habitats are being guided by the Wild Salmon Center's 2008 report, "Identification and Prioritization of Salmon Tributaries for Conservation in the Hoh River Basin."
The Hoh River is one of the most important strongholds for wild salmon, steelhead and coastal trout and char south of Canada. The Trust serves as an example of what can be accomplished when partners come together to secure the protection of habitat and wild salmon populations before they are impacted.
SSI's watershed councils are building local capacity to confront issues of poaching, education and habitat restoration
The watershed council network of the Sakhalin Salmon Initiative met in March to review 2009 accomplishments and develop their 2010 plans. Six councils have been established in the last two years and together they have made major progress in the areas of restoration, monitoring, education and enforcement by working with local communities, scientists, fishermen, and government authorities.
Accomplishments in 2009 include:
- Anti-Poaching. With community support, over 90 raids were conducted by the Aniva Watershed Council, 81 raids by Nogliki, and Okha organized anti-poaching brigades and around-the-clock checkpoints during high season on the Langry River.
- Restoration. The Nogliki Watershed Council conducted a clean-up of the Tym River, and the Makarov Watershed Council removed blockages from 60% of the salmon spawning areas in the Makarov River.
- Monitoring. The Okha Watershed Council monitored ecological conditions and salmon escapement in the Langry River; Uglegorsk assessed salmon biodiversity of the Pokosnaya River; and Aniva conducted research on bank erosion in the Lutoga and Taranai rivers.
- Education. The Uglegorsk Watershed Council organized "Ecologist 2009" a summer environmental school on the Pokosnaya River for 75 participants; several councils distributed information to schools and the public.
The Wild Salmon Center also produced a handbook on watershed councils to disseminate lessons learned on Sakhalin to other parts of the Russian Far East. Our partners in Kamchatka and Khabarovsk are already following Sakhalin's lead and creating watershed councils in watersheds of those regions.
Sport fishers join fishermen, scientist and NGOs to promote the sustainable management of Russian salmon rivers
Moscow--The goal of the international conference “Sport Fishing, Watershed Management and Salmon Conservation in Russia” held last February was to share experiences among resource users, tour operators and other stakeholders to unite efforts toward the sustainable management of salmon rivers. For the first time, an open discussion took place about new ways for Russians to manage salmon rivers that combine implementing low-impact sport fishing and the conservation of salmon biodiversity.
More than 60 people came to share experiences of river management and sport fishing among different salmon regions of Russia: Kamchatka, Sakhalin, Khabarovsk, the Kola Peninsula, and Karelia. In attendance were fishing lease-holders, tour operators, scientists, fishermen and NGO representatives, providing a variety of perspectives to the conference.
The conference was hosted by the Russian Salmon Fund with the support of the Wild Salmon Center, River Ponoi Ltd, LottaOlt LLC, and the organizers of the international Fishing and Hunting in Russia Exposition.
The Oregon Board of Forestry approved new plans in April that will increase the allowable level of clear cutting and lower the amount of older forest protected. This will affect over 600,000 acres of state forest-as well as critical salmon rivers such as the Wilson, Trask, Nehalem, Tillamook and Kilchis.
Wild Salmon Center is part of a coalition that is opposing the changes. State law requires the state forest plans to protect and restore fish habitat. The high levels of clear cutting allowed by this change need an independent scientific review before being implemented. Find out more at thetillamook.net.
WSC staff provided our Russian partners with a scientific overview and recommendations on minimizing impacts on salmon of seismic testing for locating natural gas fields. The testing is planned on the west Kamchatka shelf, one of the most productive wild salmon regions in Russia. The report was presented to Gasprom, the largest extractor of natural gas in the world, at public hearings in Moscow and Kamchatka in April. Possible stated impacts include increased mortality rates, reductions in commercial harvest, and changes in salmon migration patterns, as well as hearing damage and shock. As a result of the recommendation presented by a coalition of NGOs, Gasprom agreed to begin testing at a later date to reduce impacts on salmon and will carry out a monitoring program to assess impacts of seismic shocks on marine fauna during the testing. WSC will be involved in elaborating the monitoring program.
- May 4, 2010: Wild Salmon Center Spring Dinner with special guest Tom Brokaw
- May 4-7, 2010: State of the Salmon international conference "Ecological Interactions between Wild and Hatchery Salmon" in Portland.
- June 15-16, 2010: North American Salmon Stronghold Partnership Annual Meeting
- August 2010: 2nd International Salmon Camp, hosted in Sakhalin by Sakhalin Salmon Initiative The Freshwater Trust, and the Siuslaw Institute.