Puyallup Tribe Looking For Coho Family Tree

 

Mar 25th, 2014 Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission

The Puyallup Tribe of Indians is building a library of genetic material from coho salmon to better understand the different populations throughout the Puyallup River watershed.

“The data behind how all these fish are related can give us a pretty clear picture of how many populations are actually here,” said Russ Ladley, resource protection manager for the tribe. “Are populations that have different run timings independent of each other, or do they interbreed?”

A winter coho is sampled for genetic material on the White River, a tributary of the Puyallup.

A winter coho is sampled for genetic material on the White River, a tributary of the Puyallup.

Winter run coho migrate through the Puyallup as late as February or even March while the earliest run fish are often seen as soon as July. “There isn’t much time when coho aren’t moving into the freshwater to spawn,” Ladley said.

“I would like to collect an adequate sample so we have a background from which to compare,” Ladley said. “I want to know, for example, if the late time coho we see in the White River are different from early coho we see there.”

“Thirty years ago the state Department of Fish and Wildlife sprinkle planted coho fry throughout the watershed, so I would like to find out if the fish are all the same or are still diverse,” he said.

Much of the Puyallup coho’s historic habitat has been degraded in the past century and is still disappearing, making an analysis of interrelationships vital. Coho salmon spend an extra year in freshwater as juveniles compared to other salmon species, making them more vulnerable to declines in freshwater habitat.

For example, low summer flows have been dropping throughout the watershed for decades. “Coho are their most vulnerable when we get to summer low flows,” Ladley said. “Despite a prohibition of new water withdrawals, we’ve seen a continual decline in summer flows because of unregulated wells being allowed to spread across the watershed.”

Low flows reduce the amount of habitat available for coho rearing and can cut fish off completely from valuable habitat. “When it comes down to it, fish need water to survive,” Ladley said.

“Currently, we see a fairly broad range of return timing and coho utilizing habitat from near sea level to 3,000 feet of elevation in Mount Rainier National Park,” Ladley said. “It will be interesting to learn if this is one homogenous stock or whether clear genetic differences exist.”

“This genetic data will give us a clearer picture of exactly how diverse they are, and hopefully give us information we can use to better manage the stock,” he said.

More information on the decline in salmon habitat in the Puyallup River watershed can be found at: http://go.nwifc.org/puyallup and for all of western Washington, here: http://nwifc.org/publications/sow/

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For more information, contact: Russ Ladley, resource protection manager, Puyallup Tribe of Indians, (253) 845-9225. Emmett O’Connell, South Sound Information Officer, NWIFC, (360) 528-4304, eoconnell@nwifc.org

Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe brings in more efficient incubator system

 

Feb 21, 2014 NWIFC.com

With the influx of chum salmon last fall, the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe was able to take twice as many eggs as usual, up to 1.2 million.

In anticipation of the large run, natural resources director Paul McCollum brought in an idea from his time in fisheries in Alaska – a NOPAD incubator, a tower of six 4′ x 4′ x 15” aluminum trays that can accommodate up to 1.5 million eggs.

Little Boston Hatchery technician Jeff Fulton works with a tray of eggs in the new NOPAD incubator system. More photos can be found by clicking on this photo.

Little Boston Hatchery technician Jeff Fulton works with a tray of eggs in the new NOPAD incubator system. More photos can be found by clicking on this photo.

“The small tray incubation system, or Heath tray system, we have been using for decades can only hold up to 600,000 eggs in total,” McCollum said. “The NOPAD has only been around since the 1970s and is commonly used in Alaska. One of the NOPAD trays can hold 45 small Heath trays worth of eggs.”

The tribe is maxed out with the old system, McCollum said, so the NOPAD trays will help increase its chum production while using minimal additional water or floor space.

“Most of our chum will go into our raceways, as we’ve always done, but now we’ll have more to put in the net pens, which, in the end, will result in bigger fish at release.

“The survival rate is a little more beneficial with the NOPAD,” he added. “But our main focus is on increasing production for better returns.”

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For more information, contact Paul McCollum, Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe natural resources director, at (360) 297-6237 or paulm@pgst.nsn.us; or Tiffany Royal, Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission public information officer, at (360) 297-6546 or troyal@nwifc.org.