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SOS Blog

Save Our Wild Salmon

Posted on Friday, July 20, 2018Crown Point at sunriseGary Halvorson

Members of a regional partnership kicked off by NOAA Fisheries in early 2017 have agreed in principle to a vision statement and provisional goals.
The Columbia Basin Partnership Task Force first met in Portland January 24, 2017 seeking an all-inclusive region-wide effort to connect various salmon recovery efforts. That first meeting was a long-time in the making with NOAA having first announced its intentions to convene the Partnership in October 2015.
Multiple, sometimes overlapping, recovery plans are present across the region, Barry Thom, regional administrator of NOAA Fisheries West Coast Region, told the group of more than 35 people at the January 2017 meeting.
The idea of a Partnership actually took form out of NOAA’s 2012 Columbia Basin Assessment. Thoms said that the Assessment effort pointed out an absence of long-term integrated salmon recovery goals in the region, although there are many different plans for recovery, and that those plans are not all working in the same direction. The Assessment also highlighted NOAA’s leadership role and that the region needed to have a broad conversation about recovery, he concluded.
Today the Task Force has 28 members and one ex officio member, all organized under NOAA’s Marine Fisheries Advisory Committee representing tribes, states and diverse stakeholders.
The Partnership, according to a Northwest Power and Conservation Council July 5 Memorandum ( is focused on developing goals for 24 stocks of fish listed as threatened or endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act.
“These stocks represent groupings of the recognized 327 salmon and steelhead populations in the Columbia Basin, consisting of the 210 extant, 117 extirpated, and 18 reintroduced populations,” the memo says. “142 of the extant populations are ESA listed.”
The Task Force is seeking comments from its constituents during a June to October outreach period. That input will be taken up at the Partnership meeting Oct. 2-3 in Portland.
“By the end of the October meeting the CBP Task Force members will finalize what elements they support moving forward as part of their Recommendations Report to MAFAC,” the Council memo says. “This Recommendation Report may include a description of the Task Force process, related work products, provisional goals, vision statement, and description of a Phase 2 process to continue the Task Force’s work in integrating the goals across species and to begin analyzing how these goals can be achieved.”
“Now the Partnership has its products out and wants feedback (from the Council’s Fish and Wildlife Committee) on it,” Tony Grover, Fish and Wildlife Director at the Council, told the Committee at its meeting July 10 in Missoula. That feedback, he said, would be shared with the Columbia Basin Task Force during August and October Partnership meetings.
The Council “agreed to merge their efforts of refining Program salmon and steelhead quantitative goals with the NOAA’S Columbia Basin Partnership Task Force effort,” the memo says.
The Task Force vision statement and proposed guiding principles ( were completed and released June 21, 2018.
Vision Statement:
A healthy Columbia River Basin ecosystem with thriving salmon and steelhead that are indicators of clean and abundant water, reliable and clean energy, a robust regional economy, and vibrant cultural and spiritual traditions, all interdependent and existing in harmony.
Proposed Guiding Principles:
Fairness: Foster a culture of respect, equity and generosity and be accountable for our interests.
Openness & Transparency: Everything is on the table – recognize yours and others’ needs, acknowledge fears, threats and limitations to success, and be willing to re-evaluate them together.
Obligations & Responsibilities: Honor legal, statutory, treaty/trust and regulatory obligations, rights, and responsibilities.
Clarity: Collaboratively arrive at solutions that improve regulatory and legal certainty.
Sustainability: Strive for durable and practical outcomes, seeking clarity while acknowledging a dynamic social/cultural, economic and natural landscape.
Knowledge & Wisdom: Ground decisions and recommendations in science, while accepting that science may not be definitive.
Innovation & Adaptiveness: Plan for the long term, act in the short term and be bold in the face of uncertainty and change.
Interconnection & Complexity: Envision a healthy and resilient ecosystem. Assume there are multiple solutions to resolving Basin issues.
The four provisional goals are:
1. Restore salmon and steelhead in the Columbia Basin to healthy and harvestable/fishable levels.
2. Provide diverse, productive, and dependable tribal and non-tribal harvest and fishing opportunities for Columbia Basin salmon and steelhead in fresh and marine waters.
3. Produce hatchery salmon and steelhead to support conservation, mitigate for lost natural production, and support fisheries, in a manner that strategically aligns hatchery production with natural production recovery goals.
4. Make decisions within a broader context that reflects, and considers effects to, the full range of social, cultural, economic, and ecosystem values and diversity in the Columbia Basin
Each of the goals has sub-goals and timing on achieving the sub-goal out 25 years, 50 years and 100 years. Goal 1 has four sub-goals: prevent declines, achieve ESA delisting, achieve broad sense recovery and expand spatial and temporal range.
Goal 2 sub-goals are ensure sustainability, optimize harvest and fishery opportunity and share benefits.
Goal 3 sub-goals are support natural production, mitigate for lost production and support fisheries, and fish protection.
Goal 4 sub-goals are broader goals that pervade the entire process and have no particular timing. They are social goal, cultural goal, economic goal and ecosystem goal.

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