State and tribal fishery managers are proposing to increase hatchery salmon and steelhead production by 14 percent in the Green-Duwamish under a federal draft EIS now out for public comment.
The bump is related to three new programs that have a goal of eventually putting young Chinook, coho and winter steelhead above a dam in the headwaters of the King County river.
As it stands, the plan calls for raising as many as 5.1 million fall Chinook, 5 million chum, 3.41 million coho, 383,000 late-winter steelhead and 100,000 summer steelhead, up from a maximum of 12.44 million currently.
More than 1.5 million of those — 600,000 kings, 600,000 coho and 350,000 late-winter steelhead — would be reared for release as fry, subyearlings or yearlings above or below Howard Hanson by the Muckleshoot Tribe once a “Fish Restoration Facility” is completed below Tacoma Public Utilities’ structure at river mile 64, where downstream passage facilities don’t currently exist but are “tentatively scheduled” to begin construction on next year.
Outside of winter-runs, WDFW, Muckleshoot and other hatcheries on the system rear fish to fuel sport and tribal fisheries on Puget Sound, Elliott Bay and in the river.
Where at one time the Green was one of Puget Sound’s top streams for steelheading in December, January and February, these days managers are trying to conserve and recover the river’s low natural stocks.
The 10 hatchery programs covered by the plan “would be adaptively managed over time to incorporate best management practices as new information is available,” according to the National Marine Fisheries Service’s Duwamish-Green Hatcheries Draft Environmental Impact Statement.
Other options call for a continuation of the status quo, which is to say without ESA coverage, and terminating or cutting production in half.