Salmon Recovery

Implement harvest, hatchery, and adaptive management elements of salmon recovery.
The Treaty Tribes and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) co-manage hatchery production and salmon harvest allocations in Washington State. For hatchery and harvest strategies to be effective recovering Puget Sound salmonids and support tribal nations’ treaty and sovereign rights, they must also consider and address the status of habitat protection and recovery, the potential risks to wild salmon populations from hatchery production, and the food web dynamics including prey availability and predation pressure. All salmon, whether hatchery- or natural-origin, need healthy habitats and sufficient prey resources to support growth and migration through every stage of their life history. Hatcheries are used selectively in Puget Sound to prevent extinction, rebuild populations, and augment natural salmon runs for harvest in areas where populations have been depleted due to habitat loss and predation. Many management sectors make decisions that affect these habitats. Ensuring that these decisions also provide for habitat protection and recovery consistent with harvest and hatchery strategies (commonly known as “H-integration”) is essential for hatchery and harvest strategies to succeed while supporting the recovery of wild salmon. Improved monitoring and sharing of information about salmon habitats, the factors limiting survival of salmon at different life-stages, and hatchery and harvest strategies are needed to learn what strategies are working and how to improve them.

For more information on this topic, see the 2021 Governor’s Salmon Strategy Update, the Chinook Implementation Strategy, and the State of Salmon in Watersheds 2020 report.
  • Reduce impact of invasive species
  • Protect native wild salmon diversity
  • Ensure sustainable harvest of native wild fish

Reduce displacement, competition, and predation of imperiled native species caused by native or invasive species. (ID #204)

Key opportunities for 2022-2026 include:

  • Continue and secure sustainable funding for pinniped population assessments and diet studies;
  • Advance discussions with co-managers and the Washington State Academy of Sciences about science- supported, Marine Mammal Protection Act-grounded options for reducing pinniped predation;
  • Implement, assess, and learn from pinniped deterrence pilot studies in Puget Sound and removals in the Columbia River;
  • Adaptively manage piscivorous warm water game fish to ensure compatibility with salmon recovery.

Increase salmon abundance while protecting genetic diversity by implementing hatchery and harvest management strategies and expanding available habitat while ensuring abundant salmon for harvest, treaty rights, and other species such as Southern Resident Orca. (ID #205)

Key opportunities for 2022-2026 include:

  • Continue to implement best practices for hatchery management, including developing a joint co-manager hatchery policy;
  • Implement and adaptively manage hatchery genetic management plans (HGMPs) which are developed by co-managers and approved by NOAA to ensure that the operation does not impede recovery;
  • Work to reduce risk to wild populations by balancing the potential risks and benefits of hatchery production, and by conducting research on hatchery infrastructure and management to reduce the fitness differential between hatchery and wild populations;
  • Continue to implement increased state and tribal hatchery production to support prey availability for Southern Resident Orca;
  • Implement habitat restoration efforts that expand available habitat and reduce competition (see the various other habitat recovery strategies for more detail—habitat recovery is referenced here to accentuate its relevance to this strategy, i.e., H-integration);
  • Improve coordination between fishery co-managers, orca researchers, and the salmon recovery community to prioritize and improve habitat conditions for constraining stocks in fisheries and to recover stocks documented to be critical prey for orca.

Ensure sustainable harvest of hatchery and natural salmon and support treaty-reserved fishing rights. (ID #206)

Key opportunities for 2022-2026 include:

  • Complete and secure approval of the 10-year harvest management plan with NOAA;
  • Promote and improve accurate and timely data reporting and availability;
  • Improve monitoring for in-season management;
  • Improve public education and outreach; increasing funding for enforcement;
  • Reduce illegal fishing.
Implementation Considerations

Key opportunities for 2022-2026 to integrate human wellbeing considerations and climate change responses into efforts include:

Human Wellbeing

  • Document and promote the value and ecosystem services of salmon and salmon hatcheries (for example, provisioning, human health, culture, and spirituality, etc.) and address the environmental justice impacts to these human needs and values, when making management decisions regarding salmon recovery.
  • Deepen awareness and understanding of tribal nations’ treaty and sovereign rights and the co-manager relationship among the recovery community and the public, building support, commitment, and action to uphold treaty obligations.

Climate Change

  • Integrate lessons learned from the Salish Sea Marine Survival Project about factors controlling salmon mortality into hatchery, harvest, and habitat management practices.
  • Assess the readiness of Puget Sound hatcheries to provide and adapt their services in the face of climate change.
  • Secure sustainable funding so that hatcheries are able to test approaches to improve practices and make the necessary changes, including large infrastructure changes, so that hatchery programs are successful.
  • Consider “H-integration” strategies that account for habitat viability in harvest and hatchery management decisions.
  • Ensure sustainable support for monitoring efforts, for example, adult and juvenile migrant monitoring, intensively monitored watersheds, effectiveness of recovery actions, and population assessments accounting for different sources of mortality at different life-stages (freshwater to ocean conditions, etc.) that enable management decisions to be grounded in accurate assessments of current and projected future conditions. This includes continuing zooplankton monitoring, research and monitoring to ensure healthy forage fish populations, including herring, and advancing food web models (for example, the Atlantis Model).
What We're Measuring

We achieve our goal of thriving species and food webs by reducing predation on adult and juvenile salmon by pinnipeds and fishes; honoring tribal nations’ treaty and sovereign rights; constantly improving the ability of hatcheries to provide fish to meet, harvest needs, and conservation objectives in the face of climate change and expanding human populations; meeting harvest guidelines for recreational and commercial fisheries; and eliminating illegal fishing activities.

Current Legislative Actions