Northwest Fisheries Science Center

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Document Type: Journal Article
Center: NWFSC
Document ID: 4377
Title: Planning Pacific salmon and steelhead reintroductions aimed at long-term viability and recovery
Author: J. H. Anderson, G. R. Pess, R. W. Carmichael, Michael J. Ford, T. Cooney, C. Baldwin, Michelle M. McClure
Publication Year: 2014
Journal: North American Journal of Fisheries Management
Volume: 34
Issue: 1
Pages: 72-93
Keywords: colonization, hatchery, conservation, Endangered Species Act, restoration, dams,

Local extirpations of Pacific salmon, often due to dams and other stream blockages, are common throughout the western United States.  Reestablishing salmonid populations in areas they historically occupied have substantial potential to assist conservation efforts, but best practices for reintroduction are not well–established.  In this paper, we present a framework for planning reintroductions designed to promote recovery of salmonids listed under the Endangered Species Act.  Prior to any movement of fish, planners should first describe the benefits, risks, and constraints of a proposed reintroduction.  We define benefits as specific improvements towards recovery objectives described in terms of factors contributing to long–term viability:  abundance, productivity, spatial structure and diversity.  Risks are potential negative outcomes of reintroductions that could worsen conservation status rather than improve it.  Constraints are biological factors that will determine whether the reintroduction successfully establishes a self-sustaining population.  We provide guidance for selection of a recolonization strategy (natural colonization, transplanting, or hatchery releases), choice of a source population, and methods for providing passage that will maximize the probability of achieving benefits while minimizing risks and overcoming constraints.  Monitoring is an essential final phase that provides the information necessary to determine whether the reintroduction successfully achieved the benefits and assesses any impacts on non–target species or populations.  Many of the benefits, especially diversity and the evolution of locally adapted population segments, are likely to accrue over decadal time scales.  Thus we view reintroduction as a long term approach to enhancing viability.  Finally, our review of published salmon reintroduction case studies suggests there remain large uncertainties in the success of reintroduction in establishing self–sustaining populations, particularly for programs employing active methods.

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Theme: Recovery, Rebuilding and Sustainability of Marine and Anadromous Species