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NOAA Technical Memorandum NMFS-NWFSC-53

Review of Potential Impacts of Atlantic Salmon Culture
on Puget Sound Chinook Salmon
and Hood Canal Summer-run
Chum Salmon Evolutionarily Significant Units

F. William Waknitz11, Tim J. Tynan3, Colin E. Nash2, Robert N. Iwamoto2, and Larry G. Rutter3


1Northwest Fisheries Science Center
Conservation Biology Division
2725 Montlake Boulevard East
Seattle, Washington 98112

2Northwest Fisheries Science Center
Resource Enhancement and Utilization Technologies Division
2725 Montlake Boulevard East
Seattle, Washington 98112

3NMFS Northwest Regional Office
Sustainable Fisheries Division
510 Desmond Drive Southwest
Lacey, Washington 98503

June 2002

Donald L. Evans, Secretary

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Vice Admiral Conrad G. Lautenbaucher, Jr. USN (Ret), Administrator

National Marine Fisheries Service
William T. Hogarth, Administrator for Fisheries

NOAA Technical Memorandum NMFS Series

The Northwest Fisheries Science Center of the Na tional Marine Fisheries Service, NOAA, uses the NOAA Technical Memorandum NMFS series to issue informal scientific and technical publications when complete formal review and editorial processing are not appropriate or feasible due to time constraints. Documents published in this series may be referenced in the scientific and technical literature.

The NMFS-NWFSC Technical Memorandum series of the Northwest Fisheries Science Center continues the NMFS-F/NWC series established in 1970 by the Northwest & Alaska Fisheries Science Center, which has since been split into the Northwest Fisheries Science Center and the Alaska Fisheries Science Center. The NMFS-AFSC Technical Memorandum series is now being used by the Alaska Fisheries Science Center.

Reference throughout this document to trade names does not imply endorsement by the National Marine Fisheries Service, NOAA.

This document should be cited as follows:

Waknitz, F.W., T.J. Tynan, C.E. Nash, R.N. Iwamoto,
and L.G. Rutter. 2002. Review of potential impacts
of Atlantic salmon culture on Puget Sound chinook
salmon and Hood Canal summer-run chum salmon
evolutionarily significant units. U.S. Dept. Commer.,
NOAA Tech. Memo. NMFS-NWFSC-53, 83p.

Most NOAA Technical Memorandums NMFS-NWFSC are
available on-line at the Northwest Fisheries Science Center
web site (https://www.nwfsc.noaa.gov)

Copies are also available from:

National Technical Information Service
U.S. Department of Commerce
5285 Port Royal Road
Springfield, VA 22161
phone orders (1-800-553-6847)
e-mail orders (orders@ntis.fedworld.gov)

This HTML file represents the Introduction only; the rest of the document is available only in PDF format.


This document examines the potential of Atlantic salmon farming in Puget Sound to impose adverse impacts on the Puget Sound chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) and Hood Canal summer-run chum salmon (O. keta) evolutionarily significant units (ESUs), both of which were listed as "threatened" under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) in March 1999. The threatened status of these populations requires that all activities that may harm the fish or their critical habitat be limited such that they do not appreciably reduce the likelihood for recovery of the ESUs in the wild.

Many of the activities that may lead to the take of listed salmon in Puget Sound, including the artificial propagation of salmonids in hatcheries and marine enclosures, will have effects that are incidental to otherwise lawful activities. Among such activities is the private culture of Atlantic salmon. This document presents the best scientific and commercial information available to evaluate the possible effects of salmon farming on listed chinook and summer-run chum salmon populations, and will provide the scientific basis for federal regulatory agency direction for the appropriate management of the industry in Puget Sound.

Much of the available scientific information pertaining to salmon aquaculture was produced by NMFS in furtherance of its national mandate to advocate environmentally sustainable aquaculture through research, technology development, financial assistance, and regulatory programs. Locally, Washington State policies also recognize aquaculture as a legitimate and beneficial use of its coastal waters. By reason of NMFS' concomitant responsibilities to conserve Pacific salmon species, especially those listed under the ESA, the agency has also collected, analyzed, and published a significant amount of scientific information relevant to the specific issue of Atlantic salmon impacts on federally listed Pacific salmon. After conducting several scientific reviews of Washington's Atlantic salmon farming industry, including the present one, NMFS concluded that the operations can be managed to minimize risks to local salmon populations. In particular, NMFS found that Washington State regulation of the industry provides adequate protection to stocks of Pacific salmon listed under the ESA. Nonetheless, there are legitimate issues associated with hatchery-reared salmon and trout that end up in natural ecosystems, either by deliberate release or by escape from the rearing facility.

Concerns regarding the artificial propagation of salmon and trout in the Pacific Northwest have been expressed numerous times in recent years, focused primarily on Pacific salmon hatcheries. However, concerns about the potential adverse impacts of private trout and Atlantic salmon culture in Washington have been expressed as well. Uncertainty about genetic and ecological interactions and the transmission of disease among Atlantic and Pacific salmon are the most commonly voiced concerns.

It should be understood that this review does not intend to evaluate potential risks associated with Atlantic salmon farming anywhere in the world except Puget Sound, Washington. Also, social issues related to salmon farming in Puget Sound are not discussed. Much of the material presented here has been taken from previous NMFS evaluations of the risks of Atlantic salmon in Pacific coast states or from NMFS' ESA-related status reviews of West Coast salmonids


The authors thank the following individuals, who kindly provided information and assitance that was essential to the completion of this document: Donald Noakes and Andrew Thomson of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada; Peter Granger and Keven Bright of the Washington Fish Growers Association; Robert Kope and Lee Harrell of NMFS; Jim Parsons of Troutlodge, Inc.; Andy Appleby and Dave Seiler of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife; and Tim Wheeler of the Port of Seattle.

The authors also give special thanks to the individuals who provided critical comments on draft versions of this document: Kevin Amos, Tom Good, Jeff Hard, Peter Kareiva, and Conrad Mahnken of NMFS; Reginald Reisenbichler of the U.S. Geological Survey; Donald Noakes, Trevor Evelyn, and Andrew Thomson of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada; Mart Gross, University of Toronto; Ian Fleming, Oregon State University; Kenneth Brooks, Aquatic Environmental Sciences, Inc.; and Donald Campton, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The conclusions and recommendations in this document are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the reviewers.

The rest of the document is available in PDF format.