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Thread: Kenai King Smolt Project Cut

  1. #1

    Default Kenai King Smolt Project Cut

    http://peninsulaclarion.com/news/201...rs-budget-cuts

    How frustrating. I know times and the budget are tough so I am trying not to overreact here, but JC how the heck can we expect to protect these fish if we ignore their bedroom and nursery? I wonder who ultimately made this call. The title would indicate that this was Walker's call but further reading indicates it was ADFG's decision. A quote:

    "The juvenile salmon project on the Kenai River is being delayed as the river already has a robust assessment project on adult salmon, Jones wrote. "

    That may be well and good, but we have little information on these fish in their juvenile stages, and we have troubling information about the health and activity on our river in the areas these juveniles rear.

    I hope the rest of the fishing community - including those trying to put me out of business - are as upset about this as I am.

    Additionally, I know that sockeye smolt funding has been perilous in times past, and the cutting of the King smolt funding does not bode well for future sockeye smolt projects. Not sure if the funding was connected but I think there was a hope that it would be and that is now toast.


    AAAAAARGH! I'm sure this is all because I have not paid enough in taxes.... Funny but not!

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    Quote Originally Posted by smithtb View Post
    http://peninsulaclarion.com/news/201...rs-budget-cuts

    How frustrating. I know times and the budget are tough so I am trying not to overreact here, but JC how the heck can we expect to protect these fish if we ignore their bedroom and nursery? I wonder who ultimately made this call. The title would indicate that this was Walker's call but further reading indicates it was ADFG's decision. A quote:

    "The juvenile salmon project on the Kenai River is being delayed as the river already has a robust assessment project on adult salmon, Jones wrote. "

    That may be well and good, but we have little information on these fish in their juvenile stages, and we have troubling information about the health and activity on our river in the areas these juveniles rear.

    I hope the rest of the fishing community - including those trying to put me out of business - are as upset about this as I am.

    Additionally, I know that sockeye smolt funding has been perilous in times past, and the cutting of the King smolt funding does not bode well for future sockeye smolt projects. Not sure if the funding was connected but I think there was a hope that it would be and that is now toast.


    AAAAAARGH! I'm sure this is all because I have not paid enough in taxes.... Funny but not!
    Slow down grasshopper. The Kenai King Project was not going to provide any useful information for the cost. It was flawed from the start and most people knew it. The idea of coded wire tagging chinook and getting adult returns is costly at the tagging stage and recovery stage. There was no money for the recovery stage and with the budget situation it is likely there would not be any in the future. Too many worthwhile programs are also going on the cut board so if funds do become available then they should come back first. So we were going to spend lots of money on tagging and no recovery which means no marine survival estimate. We actually did this approach with FRED and when the fish came back no sampling of adults and those fish caught in the sport fishery did not make a sufficient sample size.

    Your heart is in the right spot on need for juvenile studies but this smolt program does not give it to you. We need to go up the river and sample juveniles in-river for a number of factors. For example, are there high density rearing areas that need protection, what is the sex ratio of the juvenile given the adults are skewed, what is the competition between tributary and mainstem spawning juveniles for rearing space, and the list goes on. Smolt can be sampled fairly cheaply for sex ratios which would tell us if the sex ratio is skewed because of freshwater impacts. So for a lot less money ADF&G can still get some good data if the staff will get out of the office and out on the river with research in mind. That is a problem with some UCI staff. For example, not walking Slikok Creek for adult counts when it is 1/4 mile from the office and takes a couple of days shows a lack of desire not budget.

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    Gotta agree. Coded wire tagging wild smolts is never going to provide sufficient sample size to make informed decisions. This is a real problem on the Columbia River, particularly if survival to adult stage is around 1%. If you want to estimate the survival of wild smolts in the Columbia Rv it's really difficult because of sample size. Sampling large numbers of small fish from very deep, very fast water is absurd. Can't be done. The way we get around it is to use hatchery fish that are raised to a much smaller size at release (cooling the water and feeding them less) and we mark those hatchery fish. We call them surrogate fish. They serve as a surrogate for wild fish, even though they are just hatchery fish at a smaller size (but is similar in size to wild fish). By doing this, we can get a high enough sample size because we can mark millions of them in a hatchery raceway. But don't even think about doing that with wild fish.

  4. #4

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    Thanks for the info. I did not have much knowledge of the specifics of this project or the reasons it was tabled - why I posted the article and was hoping for explanation/discussion. Yes, the research you are referring to needs to be done. I hope it happens, and that EVERYONE in the fishing community pushes to get it done. The skewed gender ratio of our fish has not gotten enough attention. Perhaps when time allows people could elaborate on that issue as well...

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    Quote Originally Posted by smithtb View Post
    The skewed gender ratio of our fish has not gotten enough attention. Perhaps when time allows people could elaborate on that issue as well...
    Sorry for the highjack....

    ER in 2014 was estimated at only 23% hens. Of the remaining 77% bucks, the dominant age class was 1.2's which comprised about half the males. Moreover about 2/3's of the males were 1.1's and 1.2's. Among the females, 1.4's were historically the backbone of the egg wagons. In 2014, only 1 in 6 are 1.4's.... SAD!

    ....


    While not as pronounced (YET!) young males also dominated the LR in 2014, when 6 out of 10 sampled fish were males. About 4 out of 5 of those bucks were 1.3's or younger.... and 1.2's and 1.1's made up nearly half the males! Incredible shrinking Kenai king? Yah yoo becha!
    "Let every angler who loves to fish think what it would mean to him to find the fish were gone." Zane Grey
    http://www.piscatorialpursuits.com/uploads/UP12710.jpg
    The KeenEye MD

  6. #6

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    Got a little more info on this.

    There were to be several aspects to this smolt project - coded wire tags being part of it, I believe with other more desirable/effective info/studies like you were talking about Nerka. Won't expound in areas I have little knowledge of, but it sounds like there were multiple aspects to this project.

    Additionally, sockeye smolt research in the past has been performed by commfish division. They have personnel and tools to help with this research. Sport and comm had intended to combine forces, using personnel and tools that commfish had, and funding that sportfish had been promised by a previous administration. Their intention was to perform smolt research on sockeye AND kings.

    Wow, two divisions of ADFG working together. What a concept. Unfortunately, now we have no smolt projects for either species.

    Buuuut, we're still expanding the parking lot and outhouses at eagle rock, and we still have funding to develop a new park and boat launch on Funny River Road so we can go hawg huntin!

    http://peninsulaclarion.com/news/201...#comment-23262

    I know I'm bitter and need to give the new administration a chance to right the ship. But to me it is a big deal when we start whacking research of a struggling stock while increasing access to harvest.

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    Quote Originally Posted by smithtb View Post
    Got a little more info on this.

    There were to be several aspects to this smolt project - coded wire tags being part of it, I believe with other more desirable/effective info/studies like you were talking about Nerka. Won't expound in areas I have little knowledge of, but it sounds like there were multiple aspects to this project.

    Additionally, sockeye smolt research in the past has been performed by commfish division. They have personnel and tools to help with this research. Sport and comm had intended to combine forces, using personnel and tools that commfish had, and funding that sportfish had been promised by a previous administration. Their intention was to perform smolt research on sockeye AND kings.

    Wow, two divisions of ADFG working together. What a concept. Unfortunately, now we have no smolt projects for either species.

    Buuuut, we're still expanding the parking lot and outhouses at eagle rock, and we still have funding to develop a new park and boat launch on Funny River Road so we can go hawg huntin!

    http://peninsulaclarion.com/news/201...#comment-23262

    I know I'm bitter and need to give the new administration a chance to right the ship. But to me it is a big deal when we start whacking research of a struggling stock while increasing access to harvest.
    The sockeye smolt project was terminated and with the budget forecast it has little chance of coming back. Unlike chinook sockeye are enumerated in the fall via sonar in Skilak and Kenai Lake so information gathered since 1985 will still be gathered. Smolt numbers tell you something about marine survival but adult numbers can do the same with the fry estimates. Just an earlier starting point. So the sockeye portion would be nice but not really needed relative to the long term data base.

    The studies I suggested are low cost and can probably be done with existing staff and a few thousand dollars. Not what a chinook smolt project can cost. The point is not to fight for these huge dollar projects but to fight for lower cost longer term projects that provide data one can make a decision on. The projects I suggested can give immediate data for decision making on a number of fronts.

  8. #8

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    Anyone else have any info/input on this, or any ideas how we may ensure that important/effective smolt research starts being funded and conducted on our rivers?

    Yukon, Iceblue, Norcalbob, Penguin, Whop - you guys seem to be jacked into the information pipeline. Anyone care to comment on this, or do we only get input relative to the political bickering? Aren't issues like this key to protecting our salmon runs?

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    Not necessarily the smolt study per say, met with 2 senior f&g people in December and was told the low king numbers were due to ocean survival in their first year at sea, if they survived their first year the survival rates were good, it was just that first year at sea kings are dying, reasons not totally known. Hard to track that small of fish. People tend to focus on the kenai, but look at all the other rivers that have poor returns, there are lots. State budgets are going to be tight with low oil price, every state agency is going to have to get the most out of each dollar, tough decisions will have to be made.
    Quote Originally Posted by smithtb View Post
    Anyone else have any info/input on this, or any ideas how we may ensure that important/effective smolt research starts being funded and conducted on our rivers?

    Yukon, Iceblue, Norcalbob, Penguin, Whop - you guys seem to be jacked into the information pipeline. Anyone care to comment on this, or do we only get input relative to the political bickering? Aren't issues like this key to protecting our salmon runs?

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    Just a thought, but Cook Inlet Aquaculture Association is a potential resource that might help to get something like this off the ground. For almost 40 years CIAA has provided salmon enhancement that all users benefit from, including sport fishing. ADFG has a long history of working with them. In fact, as an organization voluntarily funded by commercial fishermen, CIAA's participation might bode very well for the public perception of the commercial fishery - commercial fishermen exercising their conservation concerns at the forefront - the Kenai. I know CIAA has biologists and staff, and has experience doing these types of studies. In my experience they generally focus on sockeye and avoid the Kenai River mess, but maybe it's time for a change - a more obvious show of cooperation, concern, conservation, and unity with the sport fishery. They might help break the funding barrier too. Again, just a thought. Perhaps worth approaching them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by yukon View Post
    met with 2 senior f&g people in December and was told the low king numbers were due to ocean survival in their first year at sea, if they survived their first year the survival rates were good, it was just that first year at sea kings are dying, reasons not totally known.
    That's nothing to do with the smolt study being discussed here, nor can it be shown to apply specifically to the Kenai's King return. In fact, it's kind of old news. Back in August we got conclusion from Ed Jones, a senior ADFG Sport Fish Division lead for the Chinook Salmon Research Initiative project, that ocean survival was responsible for the low King returns. We discussed that conclusion, and exposed some serious problems with it. Not only was it premature (the comprehensive study will take years), but it excluded freshwater production issues (you can't conclude the ocean survival is the cause when freshwater survival/productivity remains unknown). We discussed that here:


    http://forums.outdoorsdirectory.com/showthread.php/143686-Chinook-Study-on-12-systens

    Now, back to the smolt study...

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by yukon View Post
    Not necessarily the smolt study per say, met with 2 senior f&g people in December and was told the low king numbers were due to ocean survival in their first year at sea, if they survived their first year the survival rates were good, it was just that first year at sea kings are dying, reasons not totally known. Hard to track that small of fish. People tend to focus on the kenai, but look at all the other rivers that have poor returns, there are lots. State budgets are going to be tight with low oil price, every state agency is going to have to get the most out of each dollar, tough decisions will have to be made.
    How the heck could they possibly know that these fish are spawning successfully and that the smolt are hatching, rearing, and transitioning out to sea if we are not looking inriver? Did you ask these senior people these questions? I get the statewide issue, but there are also issues unique to the Kenai which we should be looking at. How do they know it is the first year survival that is the issue? What is happening to all the females - are they even hatching, or is the sex ratio skewed from the start? Have we eliminated this as a possibility?

    I am very suspect about how quickly this was determined by some within ADFG to be only an ocean issue given the lack of data.


    Fun, great thought. Maybe it could be a CIAA/KRSA collaboration!!! No but seriously, good thought.

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    Thanks Fun, you da man. No need for me to post, looks like you got it.

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    Checking with CIAA is a great idea. I would also recommend approaching local staff and see what there thoughts are on this subject from funding, to what might happen to funds for other projects if this one somehow moved to the forefront, ranking priorities, & if they have ideas about how to move forward from here. Funding through legislative action is next. Maybe Chenault can help with this.

    i was with Yukon on that meeting with senior ADF&G staff & his comments were correct. Ocean survival was thought to be the problem but it would be prudent to conduct this study in my opinion. The more info the better...like continuing the acoustic study...bet I got a rise on that one.

    does anyone really think that the males are hatching but somehow their sisters are not? A gender selective disease? Hmm, probably more of a longer at sea less chance of returning to the rivers to spawn. Hence, the larger percent of return being the younger males.

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    Smith,
    ask funtastic, he has the answers.
    Quote Originally Posted by smithtb View Post
    How the heck could they possibly know that these fish are spawning successfully and that the smolt are hatching, rearing, and transitioning out to sea if we are not looking inriver? Did you ask these senior people these questions? I get the statewide issue, but there are also issues unique to the Kenai which we should be looking at. How do they know it is the first year survival that is the issue? What is happening to all the females - are they even hatching, or is the sex ratio skewed from the start? Have we eliminated this as a possibility?

    I am very suspect about how quickly this was determined by some within ADFG to be only an ocean issue given the lack of data.


    Fun, great thought. Maybe it could be a CIAA/KRSA collaboration!!! No but seriously, good thought.

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    Quote Originally Posted by yukon View Post
    Smith,
    ask funtastic, he has the answers.
    yukon, man up. Smithtb's questions were posed to you, not me. Obviously because it was you who brought the issue into this discussion.

  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by yukon View Post
    Thanks Fun, you da man. No need for me to post, looks like you got it.
    Quote Originally Posted by yukon View Post
    Smith,
    ask funtastic, he has the answers.
    Actually Yukon I tried to simply Rep Funtastic and say thanks for the posts, but it said I have to spread some reputation around before I could do that. OMGSOPOPULAR!!!

    Good job towing the company line on the smolt question Yukon. It's out in the ocean. We're sure. Nothing to see here folks. Best to not ask questions while we build more access roads and boat launches and bigger parking lots for the fish that will just magically keep coming back as soon as we get rid of those curtains of death.

    Quote Originally Posted by iceblue View Post
    Checking with CIAA is a great idea. I would also recommend approaching local staff and see what there thoughts are on this subject from funding, to what might happen to funds for other projects if this one somehow moved to the forefront, ranking priorities, & if they have ideas about how to move forward from here. Funding through legislative action is next. Maybe Chenault can help with this.

    i was with Yukon on that meeting with senior ADF&G staff & his comments were correct. Ocean survival was thought to be the problem but it would be prudent to conduct this study in my opinion. The more info the better...like continuing the acoustic study...bet I got a rise on that one.

    does anyone really think that the males are hatching but somehow their sisters are not? A gender selective disease? Hmm, probably more of a longer at sea less chance of returning to the rivers to spawn. Hence, the larger percent of return being the younger males.
    Iceblue - I did talk to local staff. They were bummed that programs were getting cut as they really care about our river and understand the importance of good data, but it's not their call and they are not sure what else might get cut. They are pretty confident that sampling of the setnet caught kings is safe though. Note I have always supported ESSN sampling and begged for genetics to be ran on our fish. Ironic that we don't care what goes out but care so much about what comes back.

    You are right that females staying at sea longer thus having a lower chance of survival is likely a major factor here. We all know there aren't as many coming back from the ocean for a variety of reasons. That does not make obtaining smolt information any less important. To me it seems like a very important part of sustaining yield of this resource. And it is literally in our back yards - probably one of the most cost-effective places to study these fish. Wouldn't it be interesting if we learned something new in the process, like that chemicals or water temperature, depth, or clarity affected something as crazy as sex. But I am just a fisherman. Who knows.

    Please tell me you don't think the hundreds of thousands of dollars spent to produce the Kintama report were spent as effectively as even a few tens of thousands could be if dedicated every year to some inriver smolt projects. That information would help us learn things that we don't already know. Raise you hand if you already knew that kings usually swim deeper than reds.

    Sounds like you two meet with those making decisions up there in our metropolis. It sure would be nice if we agreed that this is a priority. Then maybe we could work together to protect our fisheries.

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    Quote Originally Posted by iceblue View Post
    Checking with CIAA is a great idea. I would also recommend approaching local staff and see what there thoughts are on this subject from funding, to what might happen to funds for other projects if this one somehow moved to the forefront, ranking priorities, & if they have ideas about how to move forward from here. Funding through legislative action is next. Maybe Chenault can help with this.

    i was with Yukon on that meeting with senior ADF&G staff & his comments were correct. Ocean survival was thought to be the problem but it would be prudent to conduct this study in my opinion. The more info the better...like continuing the acoustic study...bet I got a rise on that one.

    does anyone really think that the males are hatching but somehow their sisters are not? A gender selective disease? Hmm, probably more of a longer at sea less chance of returning to the rivers to spawn. Hence, the larger percent of return being the younger males.
    There are no brood tables for early run chinook based on good counts so no one can say anything about ocean survival in the Kenai. The sex data and age data are compromised by an admitted poor sampling program and therefore if senior staff are saying it is only ocean survival they are pre-judging the outcome and study direction. Not a good thing to do in science.

    Also, the sex ratio for early run from the weirs - where the data are better shows that males are surviving at a much higher rate - this could be they are returning earlier because of predator pressure and/or a host of other causes. The sex ratio is skewed by brood year with the little data we have from the weirs but it will be years before that sorts out because of in-river sampling issues and lack of main river spawning data.

    If you look at the 2014 data the late run kenai chinook behave entirely different that the early run on the above parameters. That is inconsistent with the sole ocean hypothesis.

    As I said earlier there are lots of things ADF&G can do for less cost and provide for better management. They have wasted lots of money on political studies over the past decade when they could have been working in-river to provide some meaningful data. The chinook studies to date have been less than acceptable - not because they failed but because some staff refused to accept input that said they would fail.

    The smolt studies are in this group. The error bounds are so great on the estimates and the recovery costs and timing (7 years or more) just make these studies impractical and someone finally figured it out given the budget shortfall.

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    Skewed sex ratio...There may be much more going on that simply "ocean survival" (that seems lame without more in-river productivity knowledge). I've been reading about how water temperatures on spawn can directly alter sex ratios, causing females to have male genetic markers, and even gender reversal. If a naturally altered female carries both the X and Y chromosome, and is fertilized with a Y chromosome, it will produce a male carrying two Y chromosomes who's offspring would be all male. If this happens for multiple generations, it could dramatically skew sex ratios. Here is one fascinating example/study done on the Columbia River Chinook:

    "Although it has never been known to happen in nature, Nagler said water temperature fluctuations caused by hydroelectric dams could be responsible for the gender-reversed females he observed in the Hanford Reach. Altered females, which begin life as males, carry both an X and Y chromosome that normally signifies a male. But the fish possess all the physical characteristics of females and are able to produce eggs and spawn. Nagler said about one half of the eggs that these altered females produce carry a Y chromosome. Those that are fertilized with sperm also carrying a Y chromosome will produce a so-called super male. If super males carrying two Y chromosomes survive and return to spawn in 2003, their sperm would all have Y chromosomes and all of their offspring would be male. If that happens, generation after generation, it could lead to a shortage of females and cause a plunge in the population. The researchers also tested chinook from the Priest Rapids Fish Hatchery and from Dworshak National Fish Hatchery at Ahsahka and found no evidence of gender-reversed females. Nagler said the next step is to monitor the Hanford Reach chinook and determine if the phenomenon is recurring."

    Now, I'm not sure what the water temps are doing on our Chinook system spawning grounds, but with winters like this one (no snow or below zero temps), I wouldn't rule out something like this having an effect, especially if our strains/families of Chinook are more susceptible.

    Also, I'm not a biologist and I'm not an expert on how nature works with fish genetics or fish evolution, but I can't help wonder what effect selectively harvesting a majority of big females over the years for bait (eggs) in the sport fishery has done for skewing the sex ratio and dropping productivity. Those full-figured ladies contribute high fecundity. When it comes to roe, nothing works better for catching Kings than King eggs. For decades it was/is common practice for sport fishermen and guides to keep the big females to replenish their bait supply. Now, I know...no matter what spawns, the ratio should not change much. But Nature has a way with itself - a sixth sense per say. Kind of like Nature seems to let animals know when to produce triplets, twins, or none, or more females or males. I don't believe that's happenstance. Just saying.

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    You mean to tell me that high integrity guides who claim to be conservation minded would kill females so they could keep the eggs and kill more females? I don't buy that for one second.
    Responsible Conservation > Political Allocation

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