1. Exploitation rate limits are generally being met by managers. 2. Serious conservation measures, including regulatory listings, have been undertaken by managers over the last 15 years in the effort to recover weak stocks. 3. The harvest monitoring system is thorough.
1. Escapements continue to decline despite recovery measures, hitting critically low levels in some areas. 2. Habitat alterations, dams, and hatchery operations are widely recognized as major contributors to the continuing decline of salmon in the region.
Last updated on 28 June 2016
Improvement Recommendations to Catchers & Regulators
Continue to carry out hatchery reform activities identified by the Hatchery Scientific Review Group.
Continue to undertake watershed restoration activities with associated effectiveness monitoring programs.
Maintain river flows in coho spawning streams at levels described in Endangered Species Act guidelines, and explore dam removal opportunities, particularly on the Klamath River.
Last updated on 4 October 2011
Coho salmon that spawn in Washington and Oregon (primary contributors to catch), as well as in California (minority contributors to catch) are harvested in mixed-stock ocean commercial troll fisheries as well as in recreational ocean fisheries and more terminal “inside” marine and freshwater fisheries. This profile is devoted particularly to the troll fishery component of the harvest, which currently takes place off the coasts of Washington and Oregon. There have been no directed fisheries off California since 1996 in order to protect ESA-listed populations. In 2001-2012, commerial troll catches landed in Washington and Oregon averaged 44,000 fish/year.
The Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC)’s annual review of ocean salmon fisheries (e.g., http://www.pcouncil.org) provides a summary of biological and socio-economic data to assess the status of managed stocks, impacts of past management actions and the performance of fisheries in relation to management objectives.
An extensive sampling regime to estimate harvest and related statistics is specified in the anual PMFC Fishery Management Plan (http://www.pcouncil.org/salmon/fishery-management-plan/current-management-plan/). Data on the harvests by commercial and treaty Indian ocean fishermen are obtained by telephoning selected (key) fish buyers and sampling the commercial landings on a daily basis. In-season data on the distribution, amount, and type of commercial fishing effort is obtained by one or more of the following methods: port exit counts, radio or electronic media reports, and processor reports. Analyses of fish scales, recovered fish tags, genetic stock identification samples, and other methods provide information on the composition of the stocks being harvested.
An annual coded-wire-tagging (CWT) system is the basis for estimating the stock composition of the catch (http://www.rmpc.org/files/Nandor_CWT_Overview.pdf; http://www.psc.org/info_codedwiretagreview.htm). The CWT program is the backbone of stock assessment and research for exploited coho and Chinook stocks off the west coast of North America. CWT indicator stocks also provide the only source of separate freshwater and marine survival information. CWT data are used to model domestic and international fisheries based on CWT release and recovery data, as well as to simulate escapement by stock and total mortalities by fishery and stock.
The CWT program is applicable to all stocks in the fishery,but not all escapement indicator stocks have a CWT indicator, so the catch in the fishery is not known for those stocks. The CWT program is expensive and representative hatchery releases and fishery/escapement recovery sampling has been challenging.The 2008 U.S./Canada PST bilateral agreement for the conservation and harvest sharing of Pacific salmon under the jurisdiction of the Pacific Salmon Treaty assures the continued use of CWTs as the primary data source for managing fisheries covered by the treaty. The governments of Canada and the U.S. agreed to invest $15 millionto improve the coastwide CWT program.
Coho spawning escapements are primarily estimated from surveys of index systems that are expanded to a basin-wide estimate. These methods do not allow for the bias of the estimate to be assessed or for the precision of the estimate to be quantified. A stratified random sampling (SRS) study implemented in 1990 indicated an overestimation of annual Oregon Coastal Natural (OCN) spawner escapement, which had previously been based on index surveys. Alternate survey methods, such as mark-recapture, are designed to provide unbiased estimates and to estimate the certainty/precision of the estimate. These more robust estimation methods are not applied routinely or broadly within the distribution of natural coho spawning system. In addition, spawning escapement estimates are not available for some Coho Management Units (MUs). In these cases, escapement estimates are based on estimates of fishery contributions to a Coho MU and estimates of ERs of selected hatchery indicator stocks. These estimates have been included in the PMFC’s Fishery Regulation Assessment Model (FRAM) for coho. However, independent escapement estimates (e.g., from spawner or redd surveys) are more desirable as inputs to the model, due to potential bias of model-generated estimates.
Last updated on 4 October 2011
Annual pre-season modeled fishery projections are produced each year within the auspices of the PFMC and the Pacific Salmon Commission (PSC), and those projections are used to shape fisheries each year to maintain harvest impacts within pre-season expectations. The process of generating management guidelines for Pacific Northwest coho is transparent and science-based.
Nine coho stocks that spawn in Washington State are managed to achieve annual exploitation rate limits. Meanwhile, additional stock-specific exploitation rate limits are enacted through the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and Canadian recovery of Fraser River coho, which are intercepted by the US fishery. ESA standards in place for over a decade have restricted exploitation rates on Lower Columbia (LCN) and Oregon Coastal Natural (OCN) coho to 15%, a limit that encompasses both troll and inside fisheries. Meanwhile, ESA guidelines limit troll fishery exploitation of Southern Oregon/Northern California Coastal (SONCC) coho to 13%.
Meanwhile, through a PSC coho management plan adopted in 2002, US fisheries are constrained to an exploitation rate on Canada’s Interior Fraser coho of no more than 10%.
Last updated on 04 Oct 2011
Within Washington State, the aggregated coastal escapement over the last 11 years (2001-2011) has been highly variable with a steep decline between 2002 and 2006 and a rebound to high levels in 2010. The rate of change based on the robust regression (Geiger and Zhang, 2002) has declined at a rate of 3% per year. Three coho stocks in the coastal aggregate (Willapa Bay, Grays Harbor, Hoh) show the same general pattern as the aggregate. Meanwhile, the Queets and Quillayute Fall natural spawners have declined more steeply at an annual rate of 4% and 6% respectively. Although there has been an increasing trend in escapement for these stocks from 2006 to 2010, the increase was lower compared to Willipa Bay, Grays Harbor and Hoh stocks (Figure 1).
The aggregate escapement for Puget Sound/Juan de Fuca Strait coho declined steeply over the same period of record (2001-2011) and has remained low since 2004 compared to the 2001-2004 period. The rate of decline for 2001-2011 was 7% per year for this aggregate (Figure 1).
Figure 1: Aggregate escapement estimates for Puget Sound and Coastal Washington coho, 2001-2011. Both management units have exhibited declines in escapement during this time, but Puget Sound’s declines have been more remarkable (PFMC 2013).
Coastwide within the Oregon Production Index (OPI) area (stocks in Washington State south of Leadbetter Point and in Oregon and California), aggregate escapements (1998-2012) have been highly variable with relatively high escapements in 2002 and 2011 and a near record low in 2007. The overall trend for the OPI area has been increasing at about 33% per year positive for the Southern Washington coastal aggregate mainly due to the very low escapements in the early years of the escapement time-series. Meanwhile, returns to the Columbia River component of the OPI (1998-2012) have been stable (-1% per year) but with a declining trend following a high in 2009. Finally, escapement in the southern OPI coastal stock component has declined overall by 6% per year (Figure 2).
Figure 2: Escapement trends for Oregon Production Index coastal aggregates, 1990-2012. Northern and central aggregates have exhibited overall increases since 1990, but declines since 2009. The California stocks (“Southern”) have declined since 1990 (PFMC 2013).
For all coho stocks in the Washington-OPI area, 40% for the 15 stock components have declined by more than 75% since 2001.
Last updated on 4 October 2011
Stock status for salmon is assessed based on multi-year escapement trends and performance against escapement goals (see synopsis under reference point section). A number of coho stocks in this region are listed as threatened according to the Endangered Species Act (ESA). See "Recovery Plan" section for more detail.
Last updated on 04 Oct 2011
Commercial troll catches since 2000 has been a small fraction (4%) of the catch in the previous 3 decades (Figure 3). This has resulted from a marked decline in productivity and abundance and strong regulatory action to protect stocks of concern and ESA-listed stocks beginning in the 1990s (Figure 4). Based on a robust regression method of Geiger and Zhang (2002), the rate of annual change in the Washington, Oregon and California PFMC Area aggregate commercial troll catch for the 2001-2012 reporting period (www.pcouncil.org) has declined by 5%/year (61% overall).
Figure 3: Commercial troll harvest has declined markedly since 1975, the last time that the troll harvest of coho salmon exceeded the recreational harvest (which has also declined significantly). Troll boat days per season exhibit a corresponding decline (PMFC 2013, Table I-4, 2012 data is preliminary).
Figure 4: Coho abundance, troll harvest, and exploitation rate on the Oregon Production Index (OPI) have all exhibited declines since the mid-1980s (PFMC 2013).
Last updated on 5 March 2014
Fishery performance relative to management objectives are provided in annual PFMC (e.g. http://www.pcouncil.org/salmon/stock-assessment-and-fishery-evaluation-safe-documents/review-of-2012-ocean-salmon-fisheries/) and PSC post-season reviews (www.psc.org/pubs/TCCOHO13-1.pdf).
Over the last 15 years, regulatory actions have generally maintained stocks within regulatory limits where they exist. Of the nine coho stocks that spawn in Washington State with annual exploitation rate (ER) limits, only the estimated ER in 2007 for Skagit River coho marginally exceeded the pre-season limit (37% versus 35%). Meanwhile, the estimated ER in U.S. fisheries of Interior Fraser coho was within the 10% limit in all years reported in the most recent PSC report(www.psc.org/pubs/TCCOHO13-1.pdf) except in 2004 where the estimated ER was marginally above the limit (11% versus 10%). Finally, the estimated ER for OCN systems were within the ER limits in all years of record (1994-2012) reported in the 2012 PFMC performance review.The estimated ER for the LCN system was within the ER limits imposed during 2005-2012 in all years except in 2005 (18% versus 15%) and very marginally in 2007 (21% versus 20%).
Last updated on 05 Mar 2014
In 2002 the PSC adopted a management plan for coho salmon originating in Washington and Southern Canadian river systems. The plan is directed at the conservation of key management units, four from Southern British Columbia, Canada (Interior Fraser, Lower Fraser, Strait of Georgia Mainland, Strait of Georgia Vancouver Island) and nine from Washington (Skagit, Stillaguamish, Snohomish, Hood Canal, Strait of Juan de Fuca, Quillayute, Hoh, Queets, and Grays Harbor). Under the plan, the U.S. and Canada are required to constrain total fishery ERs to levels associated with categorical status (low, moderate, and abundant) and target exploitation rates of the key management units as determined by domestic managers.
Meanwhile, additioanal recovery measures are dictated through the listing of particular stocks under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Prior to 2000, NMFS listed three coho stocks as threatened: Central California Coastal coho listed October 1996, SONCC coho listed May 1997, and OCN coho listed August 1998. In 2002, NMFS began an update of all its listing determinations and in 2006 concluded that the OCN ESU did not warrant listing under the ESA. That determination was overruled by a U.S. Court decision in 2007, and subsequently relisted by NMFS as threatened in February 2008. Meanwhile, Columbia River natural coho were listed as endangered under the Oregon State ESA in 2002, and as threatened under the Federal ESA in 2005.
To summarize major developments in stock recovery over the past two decades, the abundance of stocks in U.S. fisheries impacting Interior Fraser and Puget Sound coho declined signicantly over much of the 1990s as a result of declines in productivity (see Figure 7.1 to 7.13 – www.psc.org/pubs/TCCOHO13-1.pdf). Actions were taken at that time in U.S. and Canadian fisheries to develop recovery plans within the PSC/PFMC processes and strong actions were implemented to reduce exploitation rates affecting those stocks of concern. Additionally, U.S. fisheries impacts were reduced by lowering harvest impacts following the ESA listing of Oregon coastal coho in 1998 and lower Columbia River coho in 2005. The effectiveness of the recovery plans are evaluated routinely in annual post-season reviews. Other conservation measures include mark-selective (hatchery) fisheries in non-Indian troll fisheries to protect depleted natural stocks, barbless hooks to reduce harvest mortality in non-retention fisheries including the release of undersized coho where minimum size limits are imposted.
Last updated on 4 October 2011
The impact of illegal, unregulated, or unreported fishing is low. Under state law, vessels must report their catch on a state fish receiving ticket. Vessels fishing or in possession of salmon while fishing north of Leadbetter Point must land and deliver their fish within the area and north of Leadbetter Point. Vessels fishing or in possession of salmon while fishing south of Leadbetter Point must land and deliver their fish within the area and south of Leadbetter Point, except that Oregon permitted vessels may also land their fish in Garibaldi, Oregon. Oregon State regulations require all fishers landing salmon into Oregon from any fishery between Leadbetter Point, Washington and Cape Falcon, Oregon to notify Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife within one hour of delivery or prior to transport away from the port of landing. Troll fisheries are sampled by a combination of on-water observers and dockside interviews.
Hatchery production is a substantial component of the coho ocean troll fisheries. Many of the hatchery programs are located in areas where the wild populations are ESA-listed. The percent hatchery contribution to escapement and total returns varies greatly depending on the stock (Table 1). Where the PFMC (www.pcouncil.org) provided estimates of hatchery contribution relative to total returns, the 2001-2011 average was 40%. The PFMC record of hatchery contribution to escapement (straying) is more complete and the average hatchery contribution relative to escapement was similar at 38% but ranged as low a <1% for Stillaquamish River coho to >90% for Lower Columbia River coho. Note that many hatchery programs in the Pacific Northwest are operated for stock recovery rather than fishery augmentation purposes, and interbreeding between hatchery and wild fish in certain geographies and at certain times can be intentional for recovery hatchery programs.
Table 1: Average hatchery contributions to total returns and escapement of individual Washington State and Oregon stocks, 2001-2011. An average stray rate of 38.7% and 40.3% contribution to returns was noted across all stocks.
Non-Indian commercial troll fisheries from Cape Falcon, Oregon to the U.S./Canada are primarily restricted to mark-selective coho retention but also included a non-mark-selective fishery in September. Additionally, coded wire tag indicator stocks are used to estimate stock-specific exploitation rates, produtivity and distribution in ocean troll fisheries. However, as stated above, not all escapement indicator stocks have a CWT indicator, so the catch in the fishery is not known for those stocks. The mark-selective regulations served to increase harvest of marked hatchery fish while minimizing impacts on unmarked, wild Puget Sound, Lower Columbia Natural, Oregon Coastal Natural and Interior Fraser coho.
The ecological interactions between wild and hatchery-origin salmon has been the focus of recent scientific research. High scientific uncertainty has led to substantial debate over negative impacts of hatcheries on the genetic fitness and productivity of wild populations. The state of scientific knowledge on the effects of hatchery origin salmon on wild populations was highlighted in a recent (February 2013) conference (http://www.stateofthesalmon.org/intl2013/2013presentations.html). Much of the debate centers on the impact of straying of hatchery spawning stock to wild populations and the negative genetic effect on fitness and productivity. One study of steelhead has indicated a rapid decline (i.e., one generation) in fitness that has a genetic basis. Similar comparitive studies on coho (and Chinook) have not detected such dramatic declines.
Implication of hatchery practices in wild stock declines spurred US Congress to establish the Hatchery Scientific Review Group in 2000 (http://www.hatcheryreform.us/hrp/welcome_show.action), an independent scientific panel that has conducted comprehensive reviews of over 400 hatchery programs in Washington, the Columbia River Basin, and California. This work generated many program-specific recommendations, including the following general recommendations for Pacific Northwest hatchery programs:
1. develop clear, specific, quantifiable harvest and conservation goals for natural and hatchery populations within an “All H” (Hatcheries, Habitat, Harvest, Hydro) context;
2. design and operate hatchery programs in a scientifically defensible manner; and
3. monitor, evaluate and adaptively manage hatchery programs.
Last updated on 4 October 2011
Under the Magnuson-Stevens Act, incidental mortality in commercial fisheries constitutes bycatch mortality. The PFMC assumes a hook-and-release mortality rate of 26 percent in commercial salmon troll fisheries coastwide. Salmon species other than Chinook and coho are not adversely impacted in the fishery. Chinook intercepted in ocean troll fisheries are regulated by time/area closures, specific quota regulation per opening, a minimim size limit, barbless hooks and non-retention of unmarked (natural) Chinook harvest. The Chinook bycatch mortality is accounted for in post-season performance assessment that affects future regulatory actions to conserve Chinook stocks of regulatory concern.
Bycatch mortality is not implicated in the failure of other species of regulatory concern.
Last updated on 4 October 2011
Substantial harvest of Chinook occurs in ocean troll fisheries along with coho. Pink salmon are also intercepted particularly in odd-numbered years in Washington State.
Last updated on 4 October 2011
Adverse effects of habitat alterations, dams and hatchery operations are widely recognized as major contributors to the decline of salmon in the region. Nehlsen et al. (1991) associate these activities with over 90% of the documented stock extinctions or declines. The importance of habitat is underscored in undammed coastal watersheds of the Pacific Northwest with declining salmon populations. Surveys of both public and private lands in the region revealed widespread degradation of freshwater, wetland, and estuarine habitat conditions.
The Magnuson-Stevens Act mandates a consultation process for federal agencies whose activities may adversely affect Essential Fish Habitat (EFH). Established habitat conservation policies and approaches of PFMC and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) provide the framework for implementing the Magnuson-Stevens Act. The Magnuson-Stevens Act requires federal agencies undertaking, permitting or funding activities that may adversely affect EFH to consult with NMFS. Amendment 14 (Appendix A) to the Fishery Management Plan (http://www.pcouncil.org/wp-content/uploads/99efh3.pdf) and the more recent proposed Ammendment 18 provides a description of adverse effects on Pacific salmon EFH and actions to encourage the conservation and enhancement of essential fish habitat.
Meanwhile, the 1999 PST (Attachment E) specified that habitat and its restoration are important for sustainability of Pacific salmon. The Pacific Salmon Commission Habitat and Restoration Technical Committee (HRTC) was formed in 2006 to assess habitat status and trends and restoration project effectiveness. The PSC Report HRTC (12)-1 2012 provides the 2011-2012 work plan for 1) fostering effective sharing of information on habitat restoration, activities and practices, and a network of individuals to facilitate the exchange of information and knowledge; and 2) providing strategic advice on habitat and restoration funding proposal processes.