The Promise of Hatchery-Reared Fish and Hatchery Methodologies as Tools for Rebuilding Columbia Basin Salmon Runs: Yakima Basin Overview
William J. Bosch
Abstract.—Since 1982, the Columbia River Treaty tribes (Yakama, Nez Perce, Umatilla, and Warm Springs) have proposed the use of hatcheries as a tool to recover naturally spawning populations throughout the Columbia basin. The Yakama Nation is working with the support of other agencies to implement tribal salmon restoration philosophies and proposals in the Yakima River basin. Yakima/Klickitat fishery project biologists estimate that the Cle Elum supplementation project has boosted populations of upper Yakima spring Chinook salmon Oncorhynchus tshawytscha by about 90% in both 2001 and 2002 over what returns would have been without the innovative hatchery. With the benefit of added fish from the Cle Elum supplementation project, the spring Chinook redd count in the Teanaway River in 2002 was more than five times the highest count in recorded history. Yakama Nation efforts to re-establish a sustainable, naturally spawning coho salmon O. kisutch population in the Yakima basin have resulted in adult coho returns that averaged nearly 5,000 fish from 1998 to 2001 (an order of magnitude greater than the prior 10-year average), including an estimated return of more than 1,500 wild/natural coho to the Yakima River basin in 2001. Yakama Nation steelhead O. mykiss kelt reconditioning programs have increased the escapement of steelhead to spawning grounds in the Yakima basin by 2.4% for the 2001–2002 migration and by 7.3% for the 2002–2003 migration. While it is not yet possible to definitively state whether or to what extent the use of hatchery reared fish and/or methods has resulted in these successes without causing other adverse ecological consequences, intensive monitoring and evaluation efforts continue on these projects and formal scientific results will be published as definitive results become available.