The science behind wild salmon restoration in the Columbia and Snake Rivers.

Resolution of the Western Division of the American Fisheries Society on the Role of Dams and Conservation of Snake River Salmon, Steelhead, Pacific Lamprey, and White Sturgeon

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wdafs.logoWhereas the first objective in the constitution of the American Fisheries Society is to promote the conservation, development, and wise use of fisheries, and the American Fisheries Society further commits to promote enlightened management of aquatic resources for optimum use and enjoyment by the public; and

Whereas past management of Snake River salmon, steelhead, Pacific lamprey, and white sturgeon populations and their environment has resulted in a failure to conserve and use wisely the fisheries, or to provide for optimum use and enjoyment by the public; and

Whereas Snake River salmon, steelhead, Pacific lamprey, and white sturgeon extinctions and declines occurred as a result of the impacts from a variety of physical, chemical, and biological factors, including climate change and ocean regime shifts plus those that have been summarized as the “four H’s” - Hatcheries, Harvest, Habitat, and Hydropower; and


Science and law disregarded in 2010 Obama Salmon Plan for Columbia and Snake Rivers

science-labMarch 11, 2011: Scientists respond to NOAA Administrator Dr. Lubchenco in the Oregonian - Saving Columbia River salmon: Going where the 'best available science' leads us.

October 29th, 2010

A broad coalition of salmon advocates, along with the State of Oregon and Nez Perce Tribe, have asked Federal Judge James Redden to declare President Obama’s Columbia and Snake river salmon recovery plan illegal. More on that court filing here.

On May 20, 2010, the Obama administration decided to adopt, with only minor tweaks, the Bush administration’s much-criticized Columbia River salmon plan, despite many chances to make real changes and repeated calls from scientists, courts, lawmakers, and regional stakeholders to take a different path.  This plan could weaken protections for endangered species across the nation and rolls back in-river protections put in place by the federal court since 2006.  Nonetheless, Dr. Jane Lubchenco, NOAA Administrator and nationally renowned scientist, has stated that she stands “100 percent” behind the science in this plan.  However, scientific documents obtained through the court, and in the administrative record of the ongoing legal battle surrounding this issue, illustrate that science took a back seat to regional politics in this decision.

Check out statements below from scientists on Obama's plan.

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The floor, not the ceiling

Salmon returns in the Columbia-Snake

Smoltinpipe2This summer, the Columbia-Snake River Basin is witnessing a very positive return of salmon and steelhead. Scientists credit favorable ocean conditions, along with the court-ordered spill of water over some of the basin’s dams, for swelling the ranks of fish.

The increases in spill (the good kind) — won in court by Save Our Wild Salmon Coalition members alongside the legal team at Earthjustice — helps many more baby salmon survive their epic migrations from mountain streams to the sea where they grow to adulthood. Scientists also credit this spill with significantly contributing to a chinook salmon return currently 140 percent above the 10-year average and a sockeye run breaking modern records.


Independent Scientists Find Obama's Salmon Plan Additions "Inadequate"

American Fisheries Society’s review reveals flaws with risky and insufficient salmon measures

wdafs.logoFebruary 17th, 2010 - This week, the Western Division of the American Fisheries Society also released a scientific review of the Obama Administration's proposed additions to its Columbia Basin salmon plan.  The society's assessment concludes that the addendum, issued by the government last September and known as the Adaptive Management Implementation Plan or AMIP, is not aggressive, rigorous, or specific enough to help bolster imperiled runs of wild salmon and steelhead.  The American Fisheries Society is the world's largest and oldest organization of fisheries professionals; its 3,500-member Western Division covers the 13 western states and British Columbia, including the entire Columbia Basin. 

In its review, AFS's Western Division stated that while the AMIP includes some measures that are helpful to salmon, those actions are still "inadequate for ensuring the protection of threatened and endangered salmon and steelhead in the Columbia River Basin."  Further, the review concludes that the AMIP "does not always use the 'best scientific information,'" while its Rapid Response Actions – a central feature of the government's salmon plan postscript – are neither rapid nor particularly responsive.

"With this review, the independent scientists of the American Fisheries Society have shed some much-needed light on a topic that has already generated quite a bit of heat," said Jim Martin, former chief of fisheries for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. "These experts looked at the AMIP and asked two all-important questions: does it do enough to help struggling salmon, and does it utilize the best science?  Unfortunately, the answer to both questions appears to be no."

Read the Western Division of AFS's review of the Obama Administration’s AMIP.

More on the "science" and process in building Obama's Salmon Plan.

Following The Science in Snake River Salmon Declines

***Latest News***

Jean-Michel Cousteau along with more than 118 scientists across the country have sent a letter to the Obama Administration regarding the 2008 federal plan for salmon and steelhead in the Columbia and Snake Rivers.

The scientists’ letter highlights a number of scientific concerns with the Bush plan, including its new jeopardy analysis that would allow just one additional fish returning each year to satisfy ESA requirements, its over-reliance on habitat measures to make up for the harm caused by the federal dams, the roll-backs of in-stream salmon protections like spilling water over the dams, and the “reckless approach to the impacts of climate change on Columbia Basin salmon and steelhead.” Read the letter to the Obama administration.

This comes after a May letter from the Western Division of the American Fisheries Society reasserting the environmental and economic benefits of removing the four lower Snake River dams. The Western Division of the American Fisheries Society represents over 3,000 scientists in the West.  Read the AFS letter.


Save Our wild Salmon is a diverse, nationwide coalition working together to restore wild salmon and steelhead to the rivers, streams and marine waters of the Pacific Northwest for the benefit of our region's ecology, economy and culture.




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