Week 43 South Sound Chum Test Fishery Update

Salmon test fishery 4

Just a quick summary on the WK43 test fishery info:

South Sound chum test fishing at Apple Cove Point improved this week. Yesterdays test fishery caught a total of 3,456 chum in five sets (plus 51 coho and 15 immature Chinook). Heavy fog all day prevented them from completing the usual six sets. Tides were also not ideal, although it was ebbing during all of the sets, which is good. The sex ratio of our sample was apparently 56%, though there may be reason to question whether that estimate is accurate or perhaps overestimates females. Age distribution: 70.7% age 4, 20.2% age 3, 8.10% age 5, and 1% age 6. The average weight of the chum was estimated at just under 9 pounds.

WDFW catches were fairly low catch because most of the purse seine effort was in the Hood Canal. WDFW had 14 purse seine landings in Puget Sound Areas 10/11  for 12,493 fish with an additional 3,000 catch from gill nets (15,493 total state catch).  The total Treaty catch to date is 15,338 ( Squaxin catch 2,970 chum).

State catch models supported an increase of the runsize as high as 750K. Test fishery models supported an increase to the chum runsize to 640K.   After discussion of regional catches and runsize models the Tribes and State agreed to increase the chum runsize to 500K from 350K.      Week 44 Apple Cove Test fishery will go as scheduled next Wednesday October 30th.   WDFW will continue to fish as scheduled.

Treaty/Non-treaty shares are 225,514 / 225,514.

We did get Kennedy stream count estimate from WDFW and they counted 672  live- 7 Dead chum from the falls down to the mouth.  They also saw 20 live coho and 1 dead coho.  This is on track for Kennedy creek fall chum run-timing, especially for the low water and stream flow.

If you have any questions please contact Joe Peters, Fish Biologist/Harvest Manager at jcpeters@squaxin.us or 360-432-3813

Week 42-Apple Tree Cove Chum Test Fishery Update

During the chum salmon season Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission (NWIFC) conducts the Apple Tree Cove Chum test fishery in Area 10 (Near Kingston, Washington), weekly for four weeks. This test fishery has been on going for over 30 years. In this test fishery the catches are used to update the inseason Puget Sound Fall Chum runsize. Catch results are plugged into a model with historical test fishery data to determine a runsize. After each of these test fisheries, harvest managers from Washington Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and Puget Sound Tribes conference call on the results as well as share regional catches.  Based on this data the Tribal/WDFW harvest managers make a decision to increase or decrease the Puget Sound Chum runsize.

The second day of test fishing for chum at Apple Cove Point Wednesday October 16th, ended with results much the same as last week (464 chum). They caught a total of 494 chum in six sets, along with by-catch of 47 coho and 6 immature Chinook. The tides were somewhat more favorable than the previous week, flooding during the middle of the day. Based on the sample (n=220), they estimate the catch was 46% female, which falls within the range of typical sex ratios for week 42. Week 42 samples also comprised of 83% of age 4 year old chum.

NWIFC regional biologist put together several regression models, of which are not particularly strong to update the runsize. The strongest model suggests increasing the runsize to 400K, the Tribes and WDFW felt that the models supported keeping the preseason forecast of  349K as the chum runsize.   Week 43 test fishery will be conducted Wednesday October 23rd.   Data from week 43 test fishery and this weeks catches from WDFW and Puget Sound Tribes will be useful tools to determine if the chum runsize will increase or decrease .

Current catches to date for Squaxin is just under 1,000 chum.   Kennedy Creek is starting to get chum, with last weeks adult spawner survey counting 189 live chum and 0 dead from the falls to the mouth.

For more details regarding the Apple Tree Cove Chum Test fishery and chum management, please attend the Fish Committee scheduled for 5pm October 30th, 2013 @ Council Chambers.

Fish Committee October 30th, 2013 Meeting Announcement

Restoring Mission Creek At Priest Point Park

ThurstonTalk http://www.thurstontalk.com published a piece on a proposed restoration project in lower Budd Inlet.  As the article points out, cooperative projects that involve multiple agencies will be necessary to achieve recovery in Puget Sound.

By SarahJoy Smith

Priest Point Park is an oasis right at the edge of Olympia. The park is 341 acres in size, and boasts a full mile of shoreline right on Budd Bay. On a clear day you can stand at the shoreline and see a full view of the capitol rotunda in one direction, and the Olympic mountain range in its entire splendor in the other. But far more than just a beautiful view, Priest Point has much to offer its visitors in the way of outdoor fun as well.

As one of the largest within the city limits, the park offers a little something for everyone. Covered picnic facilities, complete with BBQ and outdoor “kitchen” amenities like running water, are available to the public for a reasonable fee. Many a gathering, graduation, and even the occasional wedding are held here. A formal rose garden is maintained in the spring and summer months that makes for a beautiful backdrop for such events.
priest point park

priest point park

Private and public organizations are joining forces to clean up Mission Creek.

Miles of trails meander through the wooded areas of the park, most of which provide relatively easy walks that even the smaller kids can do. But if the kids are less interested in walking there is always the large and inviting playground. Not to mention there is plenty of room to play by the water when the tide is out.

For the nature lover this is a wonderful place to observe wildlife. Heron, otter, eagle, seal, and even deer are some of the many wild residents seen daily by visitors.

This year, the park is getting some much needed restoration work to an area on the far eastern border known as Mission Creek. For centuries Mission Creek was a salmon run. Then sometime around 70 years ago it was paved over as a road.

Today all that remains is quite a bit of “rubble”, and a bulkhead which is acting as a block to salmon trying to enter the creek. The restoration will remove both rubble and a portion of the bulkhead. Then native vegetation will be replanted, invasive species removed, and some aesthetic changes will be made along the adjacent path to make it more welcoming for both people and salmon.

The restoration of Mission Creek has been a long time in the making. The main participants were proud to point out the joint effort between several different agencies. The Port of Olympia, City of Olympia, South Puget Sound Salmon Enhancement Group (SPSSEG), Squaxin Island Tribe, a funding group called Salmon Recovery Funding Board, and other agencies to a lesser extent have been working together for ten years to get approval for this restoration. As Lance Winecka, SPSSEG Executive Director pointed out, “It takes perseverance, but the take-home message is that we can work together with everyone to do what is right.”

The significance of the Mission Creek project is twofold. To begin with, at the completion of this project the entire shoreline of the park will have been restored to its natural state. Another bulkhead was actually removed at the opposite end of the park a few years back. But more importantly, this creek is the last remaining estuary within the area.
priest point park

priest point park

Restoration work at Mission Creek is returning the area to original habitat.

An estuary by definition is a place where salt water and fresh water meet. Throughout human history estuaries are the places that people live near because they provide many resources. As you can imagine the health of an estuary and the health of the people who live near that estuary are intertwined. Moreover, this restoration has the intended purpose of bringing the salmon back to an original spawning ground.

Salmon are an indicator species, which means that their presence or absence is a measure of how healthy a waterway is. When the salmon disappear it is a telltale sign that something is wrong with the natural balance of an area. Hence the reason this project was finally approved. Alex Smith, Senior Environmental Planning Manager for the Port of Olympia has been part of this effort for many years. “If (a site) has some kind of impairment, like Mission Creek does, it is a great candidate for funding because it can restore the salmon, which is good for all of us,” said Smith.

Her counterparts with the City and SPSSEG agree with this sentiment. David Hanna, Associate Director for City of Olympia Parks and Recreation department, feels that this is a win-win for salmon and people. “Doing as much as we can to restore an area, so long as it does not do damage to the relationship between the people and the park is important,” said Hanna. “Here we are returning a degraded system back to nature, and making the park better.”

If all continues to go according to plan the project is set to begin in late August and completed no later than September 15. The park will remain open during the restoration and is not anticipated to affect visitors, so be sure to make your way there. And by this fall with any luck you may even get to see some salmon in Mission Creek attempting to return to their long forgotten home.

For more information about volunteering for the restoration project please contact Michelle Stevie at mstevie@ci.olympia.wa.us.

Squaxin Island 2013 Annual Commercial Net Fishing Regulations

On June 13th, 2013, Squaxin Island Tribal Council approved the 2013 Annual Commercial Net Fishing Regulations.   These annual regulations consist of the:  2013 Annual Commercial Net Fishing Regulations of The Squaxin Island Tribe with 2013 Fall Chinook Net Fishing Reglations (AR-13-01)   2103/2014 Coho and Chum Commercial Net Regulations of The Squaxin Island Tribe (AR-13-02)    A fishery is open by Emergency Regulation that is filed by the Squaxin Island Natural Resources Department.  Each Emergency Regulation will be posted at the Squaxin Natural Resources Department as well as online at the  Squaxin Island Website.  A summary of Emergency Regulations will also be provided on a twenty-four (24) hour “hotline” by calling 360-432-3899.

Questions regarding any Squaxin Island Treaty Net fishing please contact:
Joseph Peters
Squaxin Island Fisheries Management Biologist
360-432-3813 or jcpeters@squaxin.us 

2013 forecasts for deep south Puget Sound stocks

Fall Chinook

Squaxin Chum Management

Chum salmon fisheries are well in progress and as of November 11, the Squaxin Island Tribe fishermen have harvested approximately 25, 136 chum at a value of $133,853. This year’s chum catch is predicted to be just below the ten year average harvest by our Squaxin fishermen.


Our chum fisheries target healthy South Puget Sound wild chum stocks from Eld Inlet, Totten Inlet, Hammersley Inlet, Skookum Inlet, and Case Inlet. Northern Tribes and Washington State Non-Tribal fisheries target these stocks as well.

During the Chum salmon season Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission conducts the Apple Tree Cove Chum test fishery in Area 10 (Near Kingston, Washington), weekly for four weeks. In this test fishery the catches are used to update the inseason Puget Sound Fall Chum runsize. Catch results are plugged into a model with historical test fishery data to determine a runsize. After each of these test fisheries, harvest managers from Washington Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and Puget Sound Tribes conference call on the results as well as share regional catches. Based on this data the harvest managers make a decision to increase or decrease the Puget Sound Chum runsize. WDFW and the northern Tribes fisheries are based on the runsize and determine their available catch allocation.

While Non-Tribal fleet, recreational and our neighboring Tribes to the north are fishing, the extreme terminal Tribes are relying on chum making it to the streams to spawn (escapement). Squaxin Chum fisheries are based on escapement of Fall Chum runs into the Deep South Sound inlets. To ensure our local Fall Chum stocks reach escapement goals, Squaxin Natural Resources and WDFW staff conducts stream surveys to count spawning chum. These stream counts along with the Squaxin Island Tribe’s attentively timed fisheries allows for regional escapement to be met. Squaxin bears the burden of escapement of chum in our streams.

Inlet escapement goals

Even Years                                            Odd Years
Totten= 14,400                                       11,500
Skookum= 2,100                                    1,500
Eld= 18,500                                             14,500
Hammersley= 17,000                         13,500
Case= 1,800                                             1,500

Inlet escapement goals are on an even/odd basis that correlates with Pink salmon runs. Pink Salmon returns occur in odd years.



If you have any questions regarding Squaxin salmon fisheries management please contact Joseph Peters at 360-432-3813 or email at jcpeters@squaxin.us.


Squaxin Chinook and Coho Fishery Update

Fishing has been under way for the past few months, with what looks like a fair Chinook season and an above average coho season.  As of October 15th, our 88 licensed Tribal fishers have harvested 4,375 Chinook and 48,748 Coho.

Chinook and Coho Fish Management

This year the Budd Inlet Chinook fishery yielded 4,375 fish, below the ten-year average. Squaxin’s projected catch for Chinook is based on average catches from previous years, the predicted returning run-size to Tumwater Falls Hatchery, and the 3,500 Chinook escapement needed for the hatchery.  Escapement needs for the hatchery program were met this year. While other fisheries to the north harvest Deschutes fish, tribal and sport fisheries must contend with listed Chinook stocks of concern and are limited to a ceiling harvest rate.  Some tribes get only one to two days of fishing for their Chinook fisheries. Overall the run size was lower than expected and the Tribal fishery was down as well.

Squaxin coho catch is based on the previous year’s average harvest rates of net pen Coho. The harvest rate of Squaxin net pen Coho by Tribal fishers ranges from 94%-98%.  During the Coho fishery there are weekly in season update conference calls with the tribes and state to discuss regional catches and test fisheries from the straights and northern Salish Sea.  It is during these calls that an in-season update is made based on actual fishery results.    If a run size increases or decreases, the allocation of fish to tribes and the state change.

Squaxin Coho fisheries are unique in that the vast majority of the fish caught in 13D are net pen Coho with limited impacts on natural Coho due to the protected areas in the inlets.  By staying out of the inlets natural Coho have a better opportunity to escape into the creeks to spawn.  The Coho fishery through October 15th has harvested 48,748 Coho worth over $670,000. This is an above average outcome and suggests that there has been better ocean survival than previous years.


The results from this year’s fisheries will be used to plug back into fishery management decisions for next year. In the months of February through April, Squaxin Natural Resources takes part in the North of Falcon process, part of the Pacific Fishery Management Council.  This series of meetings gathers state, federal, and tribal fishery managers to plan Washington coastal, Strait of Juan de Fuca, and Puget Sound recreational and commercial salmon fisheries. Tribal and State fisheries managers negotiate and agree on harvest impacts on forecasted returns, as well as scheduled fisheries.


Squaxin NR Sample Coho Catch


As the  2012 Squaxin coho fishery kicked off on Monday September 10th,  Squaxin Natural Resource staff starts commercial Coded Wire Tag (CWT) recovery sampling.  Using a specially designed wand to detect CWT’s, our Resource Technicians go through the commercially caught coho to recover the small tag that is implanted in to the snout of  roughly 2.5% of the coho that are released from Squaxin Net Pens.  Squaxin Net Pen Coho have a distinct CWT numbers, so we can find out when and where our fish are caught through all fisheries.  Commercial CWT recovery sampling data is a useful tool in salmon fishery management, hatcheries practices, migration timing, and stock assessment to name just a few uses.  Video of Squaxin Resource Technicians Commercial CWT Recovery Sampling (O’Connell 2009)

In the past two years Squaxin coho catches were at all time lows with 3,500 catch in ’10 and  5,200 catch in ’11.  There are some high hopes for a good coho fishery in 2012. Over the past few weeks we have been hearing good reports that the sport fishery has been very good in the Strait of Juan de Fuca and central Puget Sound.  Now we are seeing coho showing up in Peale and Pickering Passage.  It is still to early to project how well returns will be but the first four days of the fishery has been very consistent, with catches to date exceeding previous two years catches.  Current catch estimates  to September 13th are at 1,530 coho, averaging 6.85 lbs per fish.

Squaxin Coho

An estimated 41,373 Squaxin Island Net Pen coho are forecast to return in 2012, from 1.53 million net pen releases in 2011.  In the next eight weeks our Resources Technicians will sample the Squaxin commercial coho catch trying to sample at least 20% of the catch in an effort to recover CWT’s.

Michael West and Danny Snyder wand Squaxin caught coho to recover CWT's







Finding low summer flows on the Deschutes

The Squaxin Island Tribe is conducting a season long study to find out when the Deschutes’ flows get low:

In order to establish how much water salmon need to survive during the summer months, the Squaxin Island Tribe is starting a lengthy examination of streamflow in the Deschutes River. “We want to look at the relationship between flows and salmon habitat,” said John Konovsky, environmental program manager for the tribe. “As flows decrease, available habitat also decreases. We’re trying to identify the point when that lack of flow and habitat becomes critical for juvenile salmon survival.”

The end result of the tribe’s research will be set of minimum flow targets or standards for the watershed between April and December. A state-adopted standard would mean that if flows drop beneath the minimum, the state can take corrective action to bring flows back up. The state set a minimum flow standard over 30 years ago for the winter months, but didn’t address summer flows.

A historical analysis by the tribe shows that in recent decades summer flows have gotten lower and winter and spring floods more frequent and larger. The analysis points to an increase in impervious surfaces and a loss of forest cover as prime causes of the change in hydrology. Those changes have decreased flow during the summer months by at least 20 percent.

Read the entire piece here.

Monitoring Health and Growth of Net Pen Coho

Each month Squaxin NR staff takes samples of coho from the net pens to monitor growth progress and fish pathology.   We select pens that are representative of the stocks we have and then seine a random sample of these pens.

All photos above taken by Sarah Zaniewski

The sample is weighed and one hundred of them are measured.   Eight fish are taken from this sample as lethal samples to be looked at by Northwest Indian Fish Commission Fish Pathologists.

Squaxin Smolt Trapping Underway


Squaxin Island Tribe is entering the thirteenth year of monitoring downstream outmigration of Oncorhynchus kisutch smolts (coho salmon smolts) by using weirs, rotary screw traps and mark/recapture methodology.   The enumeration  data of outmigrating smolts is used to estimate natural coho salmon production and for forecasting returning adults for South Puget Sound.

Squaxin will install weir panel traps on Mill, Cranberry, and Skookum Creeks at a site below observed coho spawning locations thus, capturing all outmigrating smolts.  Also a rotary screw trap will be installed in Goldsborough Creek  to be used in standard mark/recapture methodology.  Outmigrating coho salmon smolts will be captured, enumerated and lengths measured.  Other species such as chum fry, cutthroat, rainbow trout, and sculpin are also seen in the trap.