MisunderstandingSelectivity in Salmon Management

There has been much public dialog about"selective" fishing methods, and at least as much confusion. This isan attempt to clarify and define selectivity, and to relate itdirectly to the needs of salmon.

The key is to understand that selectivitydoes not exist in a vacuum, but that it is a part of assuring thehealth of wild salmon within the self-sustaining nature of theresource. For this to be possible, the focus needs to be on SELECTIVERESULT rather than on the mechanics of any particular gear type.

Contents:

What isSELECTIVE RESULT?
Howcan a SELECTIVE RESULT be achieved with a gear type that killsfish?Whatcontributes to SELECTIVE RESULT?
Howwill SELECTIVE RESULT help prevent endangered salmon from goingextinct?
Whatinterferes with SELECTIVERESULT?
Whatare the saltwater Gear Types used for salmon in WashingtonState?
Cana SELECTIVE RESULT be achieved with hook andline?
Cana SELECTIVE RESULT be achieved withnets?
Whatis ALLOCATION?
Whatgear types have the most SELECTIVERESULT?
Howdoes hooking mortality affect SELECTIVE RESULT?

 

Whatis SELECTIVE RESULT?

With salmon, it is simply the arrival onthe spawning beds of sufficient spawning fish to generate and sustainhealthy runs. In other words, if all the fish that need to aregetting the opportunity to produce plentiful offspring, the harvestof excess fish has achieved a SELECTIVE RESULT.

This is the primary goal of good harvestmanagement. Hence, SELECTIVE RESULT, not whether an individual fishcan survive a hook through an eye or capture in a net, needs to bethe measure of selectivity.

 

Howcan a SELECTIVE RESULT be achieved with a gear type that kills fish?

Any harvest of fish kills them, regardlessof the method. SELECTIVE RESULT therefore looks not at the fish thathave been harvested, but at those that actually return to spawn foreach run. In this way, management can focus on the real business ofsustaining and rebuilding runs.

 

Whatcontributes to SELECTIVE RESULT?

Factors contributing to the SELECTIVERESULT of the various gear types include:

 

Howwill SELECTIVE RESULT help prevent endangered salmon from goingextinct?

SELECTIVE RESULT is not a method, but ameasure of the success of management strategies. When we count toofew spawning Snake River sockeye or Nooksack spring chinook, whichare threatened or endangered, we know that management measuresdesigned to prevent any significant harvest of these fish must beutilized. The measures can include area closures or restrictions onfishing in areas of known interaction with these races of salmon, orduring times when these fish might be present.

In the case of endangered sockeye, perhapsonly net fisheries would be affected since sockeye are rarely caughtby hook-and-line gear. And hook-and-line closures could be necessarywhen Nooksack kings are present.

 

Whatinterferes with SELECTIVE RESULT?

Salmon management is not an exact science.Therefore, there is always a risk that management decisions will notbe perfect. Among the risks that could negatively impact SELECTIVERESULT are:

 

Whatare the saltwater Gear Types used for salmon in WashingtonState?

Recreational gear:

Commercial gear:

 

Cana SELECTIVE RESULT be achieved with hook and line?

Absolutely, as long as hook and linefisheries operate at times and places where stocks needing protectionwill not inadvertently be harvested along with targeted fish fromhealthy runs. Reliance on releasing fish needing protection canundermine SELECTIVE RESULT because of the high rate of mortality dueto hooking damage, stress, and exhaustion.

 

Cana SELECTIVE RESULT be achieved with nets?

Absolutely, as long as the netfisheries operate at times and places where stocks needing protectionwill not inadvertently be harvested along with fish from healthyruns. Since live release from net gear is not always possible, it isimportant that time and area management be linked with specific gearrequirements that further reduce the possibility of unwanted catch.For example, mandating specific mesh sizes for gillnets assures thatfish smaller than those targeted will just swim through the net, andthose too large will not become entangled.

 

Whatis ALLOCATION?

In Puget Sound, allocation is severalthings:

 1) Judge George Boldt's 1974 decision, based on old treaties, was vacated by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1979. This same Supreme Court decision established a sharing formula that allocates up to 50% of harvestable salmon to Indians, and at least 50% to non-Indians.

 2) There is de facto allocation of the non-Indian share of harvestable salmon between recreational and commercial fishers. Except for some small hatchery runs, most coho and chinook salmon have been taken by sport anglers, and most sockeye, pink, and chum salmon by commercial fishermen;

 3) There are allocation agreements between commercial gear groups designed to assure that each takes close to its historic proportion of the commercial share each year.

Similar allocations exist in many otherWashington waters, varying in their specifics pursuant to courtdecisions and other agreements. Though required, allocation sometimesundermines SELECTIVE RESULT by imposing legal rather than resourceconstraints on harvest managers.

 

Whatgear types have the most SELECTIVE RESULT?

Surprisingly to many, an event in 1997demonstrated that drift gillnets and reefnet gear had the mostSELECTIVE RESULT when an unusual abundance of Fraser River chinookshowed up during the Strait of Georgia sockeye fishery. Non-Indianseine boats had the next most SELECTIVE RESULT, followed by Indiangillnets and seines and by sport anglers. Management actions couldhave reduced the chinook harvest had the State so desired.

 

Howdoes hooking mortality affect SELECTIVE RESULT?

A salmon that has been injured by a hook,then handled and released, may die. Recent Canadian research suggeststhat the probability of mortality is near 25% for each encounter.Multiple encounters with the same fish were not studied. Otherstudies have come up with numbers that are both higher and lower. Asalmon that dies in saltwater is not lost to the ecosystem -- itfeeds micro-organisms, crabs, and other critters, nourishing them.But if it was a salmon from a depressed run, it's loss negativelyimpacts SELECTIVE RESULT.

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