Friday, September 30, 2011

Hatchery Cuts

Due to budget shortfalls it looks like WDFW will be reducing some hatchery production.

"The September revenue forecast was bad and expectations are that November’s forecast will continue a downward trend. The Governor has called for a special session of the legislature on November 28th to take actions necessary to achieve another $2 billion in General Fund State (GFS) reductions. This will be very important since the earlier in the biennium we implement reductions in services, the shallower the cuts will need to be. The Governor gave us the assignment to produce 5 percent ($3.45 million) and 10 percent ($6.9 million) budget cut scenarios in our operating budget....
In responding to previous reductions to our GFS expenditures, we attempted to minimize impacts to the Department’s core conservation, commercial, and recreational activities. But the cutbacks have become so deep that impacting our critical activities is simply unavoidable. General Fund support to WDFW already has been cut 37 percent, dropping from $110 million in the 2007-09 biennium to $69 million currently....

Hatchery closures and reductions in fish production – $1.25 million, 4.3 ftes
Reduced Hoodsport Hatchery production (Hood Canal)—This would reduce Hood Canal area chum salmon production by roughly 50 percent (a reduction of 12 million chum annually); reduce area fall chinook production by 12 percent (a reduction of 800,000 chinook annually), and eliminate pink salmon production (500,000 pink salmon produced every other year). The cut would negatively impact local personal income generated by chum and associated fisheries in the Hood Canal region, estimated at $6 million per year. Total GF-S savings would be $253,112.
Samish Hatchery (Skagit County)—The hatchery would be closed, reducing Department-produced chinook in Puget Sound by about 20 percent. This would eliminate annual production of five million fall chinook (90 percent of the chinook produced in the Nooksack/Samish region). The closure would eliminate about $1.46 million per year in local personal income generated from Bellingham Bay area commercial fisheries. Total GF-S savings would be $267,400.
Nemah Hatchery (Willapa Bay)—The hatchery would be closed, eliminating production of three million fall chinook and 300,000 chum salmon annually. This represents a loss of 43 percent of the chinook production in the Willapa Bay region, as well as 38 percent of chum production. The closure will represent an economic loss to the region of nearly $500,000 per year. Total GF-S savings would be $727,300...."

I have a couple thoughts regarding these cuts.  I am not against the cuts but wonder why only 1/3 of the cuts come from hatcheries in areas with stocks listed on the Endangered Species Act.  Why are the cuts not made where you could not only cut the budget but help the most critical populations in our State?

Also, does anyone else notice that they give the production numbers in juvenile fish and not returning adults?  It makes it sound like we will be losing 21.6 million salmon, when in fact the numbers returning are far less than that.  According to 2011 forecasts the total returning adults for those hatcheries cuts are 4,106 pink salmon, 66,142 chinook salmon, and 114,660 chum salmon.  That is a grand total of 184,908 returning adult salmon.  That is a significant number and will have large impacts on fisheries but it is far less than the 21.6 million salmon the press release talks about.  WDFW does not use the word "juvenile" and I believe it is on purpose.

- 12% of area hatchery chinook is 4,603 returning adults
- 100% of pink salmon production is 4,106 returning adults
- 50% of chum salmon production is 112,798 returning adults

- 90% of chinook production is 33,736 returning adults

- 43% of chinook production is 27,803 returning adults
- 38% of chum production is 1,862 returning adults

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