Puget Sound steelhead listed under ESA [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Puget Sound steelhead listed under ESA

Todd Ripley
05-07-2007, 12:43 PM
Puget Sound steelhead declared "threatened"

SEATTLE -- The National Marine Fisheries Service has listed Puget Sound steelhead as a "threatened" species under the Endangered Species Act.

The agency proposed the listing a year to cover naturally spawned steelhead from river basins in Puget Sound, Hood Canal and the eastern half of the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

Agency biologists say the decline in the steelhead population has been widespread, likely because of degraded habitat, man-made barriers, unfavorable ocean conditions and harmful hatchery practices.

The steelhead in today's listing include more than 50 stocks of summer- and winter-run fish. The Skagit and Snohomish rivers support the largest populations.

An "endangered" species is in danger of extinction. A "threatened" species is likely to become endangered within the foreseeable future.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration spokesman Brian Gorman says this is the second listing for a Puget Sound fish after Chinook salmon in 1999. The listing also is unusual because it's in an urban area.


NOAA Magazine || NOAA Home Page Commerce Dept.


May 7, 2007 — The NOAA Fisheries Service announced today that it is listing Puget Sound Steelhead as "threatened" under the federal Endangered Species Act. The agency proposed the listing just over a year ago in response to a petition from Sam Wright of Olympia, Wash. (Click NOAA image for larger view of map showing locations of ESA-listed Puget Sound Chinook & steelhead. Click here for high resolution version. Please credit “NOAA.”)

The listing covers naturally spawned steelhead from river basins in Puget Sound, Hood Canal and the eastern half of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Also covered by today's action are two winter-run hatchery stocks: the Green River natural and the Hamma Hamma River stocks.

The NOAA Fisheries Service said it looked at the biological status of Puget Sound steelhead as recently as 1996, but at that time the population did not warrant listing under the federal species-protection law. Since then, however, agency biologists say there have been continued widespread declines in the fish's population, despite substantial reductions in the harvest of natural steelhead.

NOAA's Northwest Regional Fisheries Director, Bob Lohn, said vital work on steelhead recovery was already underway. Steelhead share many of the same waters as Puget Sound Chinook, which are already protected under the ESA.

"The work already accomplished by Shared Strategy, the Sound's grassroots salmon-recovery coalition, will provide a solid foundation for the recovery of steelhead," Lohn said. "We'll continue to work with Shared Strategy, the tribes, Puget Sound Partnership, the state and others to assure that any additional effort needed to specifically benefit steelhead is included as part of a salmon recovery plan."

Lohn also praised the ongoing collaborative efforts of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and Puget Sound tribes to develop watershed-based management plans to serve as what he called "the building blocks of a statewide steelhead-conservation strategy."

The steelhead populations in today's action include more than 50 stocks of summer- and winter-run fish, the latter being the more widespread and numerous of the two. Most steelhead are found in northern Puget Sound where the Skagit and Snohomish rivers support the largest populations.

Biologists with the agency said the root causes for the steelhead population's decline likely include degraded habitat, blockages by dams and other man-made barriers, unfavorable ocean conditions and harmful hatchery practices.

A species categorized as "endangered" is in danger of extinction. One listed as "threatened" is likely to become endangered within the foreseeable future.

Puget Sound has three other fish species protected by the federal Endangered Species Act: Puget Sound Chinook salmon, Hood Canal summer-run chum salmon and bull trout. These species overlap some of the range occupied by steelhead, a species that tends to use smaller streams and migrate further upstream in Puget Sound watersheds.

Steelhead are a popular gamefish and have an unusual life history that makes studying and protecting them a challenge. Unlike most other members of the Pacific salmon family, steelhead do not necessarily die after spawning, and some can remain in fresh water as resident rainbow trout, although rainbows are not covered by today's listing.

The NOAA Fisheries Service is dedicated to protecting and preserving the nation's living marine resources and its habitat through scientific research, management and enforcement. The NOAA Fisheries Service provides stewardship of these resources for the benefit of the nation, supporting coastal communities that depend upon them, and helping to provide safe and healthy seafood to consumers and recreational opportunities for the American public.

NOAA, an agency of the U.S. Commerce Department, is celebrating 200 years of science and service to the nation. From the establishment of the Survey of the Coast in 1807 by Thomas Jefferson to the formation of the Weather Bureau and the Commission of Fish and Fisheries in the 1870s, much of America's scientific heritage is rooted in NOAA. NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and information service delivery for transportation, and by providing environmental stewardship of the nation's coastal and marine resources. Through the emerging Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS), NOAA is working with its federal partners, more than 60 countries and the European Commission to develop a global monitoring network that is as integrated as the planet it observes, predicts and protects.

Relevant Web Sites
NOAA Northwest Fisheries Service

NOAA Fisheries Portal

Media Contact:
Brian Gorman, NOAA Northwest Fisheries Service, (206) 526-6613


NOAA Fisheries Lists Puget Sound Steelhead ESU as Threatened

Statement by Dick Burge, VP of Conservation for the Wild Steelhead Coalition May 7th, 2007 Contact: Dick Burge, 360-765-3815, Nate Mantua, 206-616-7041, or Rich Simms, 425-750-4639

Kirkland, WA – The Wild Steelhead Coalition praised the ESA listing as Threatened with Extinction determination by NOAA Fisheries as an important step in protecting the region’s depleted wild steelhead populations. This extraordinary trout species is born in Washington’s rivers and streams, then migrates to the ocean, traveling as far as the Russia coast, to feed and grow to as large as 30 pounds before returning to their native Puget Sound rivers to spawn. Steelhead are the Washington State fish, and they have been an icon of the Pacific Northwest and a source of important cultural and economic benefits throughout the region’s history. Puget Sound’s wild steelhead are highly sought after by anglers, and steelhead fisheries provide significant income to many small communities in the region. The Wild Steelhead Coalition has worked tirelessly with state and local agencies to improve protections for wild steelhead and steelhead fisheries since 2000, and fully supports NOAA’s determination as being based on solid scientific evidence. Dick Burge of the Wild Steelhead Coalition made the following statement: “Puget Sound’s wild steelhead have been in steep decline for decades. In the past twenty years we’ve seen formerly productive runs fail year after year. Decades of degraded habitat, poor hatchery practices, and misguided harvest management have to be addressed to turn the declines around. It is time for action. “We sincerely hope that the ESA listing will focus attention on the habitat and ecosystem issues that have led to the region-wide declines in the abundance of Puget Sound’s wild steelhead. Improved fishery management is not enough. Puget Sound’s rivers and streams must be restored for wild steelhead to thrive. Reliance on steelhead hatcheries to replace wild fish has proven to be a failed experiment, and hatcheries are likely causing substantial unintended harm. The entire Puget Sound steelhead hatchery program must be overhauled to restore Puget Sound’s wild steelhead.” “The Wild Steelhead Coalition looks forward to working with federal, state and tribal governments to recover this remarkable species in its native rivers of Puget Sound.” To learn more about Wild Steelhead, visit http://www.wildsteelheadcoalition.com

Fish on...


Mark Vegwert
05-08-2007, 12:13 PM
So is Lohn still pro-hatcheries or has he changed his tune recently?

05-08-2007, 04:57 PM
Sad to hear...

but I hope it is intrumental in recovery.

05-10-2007, 02:22 PM
I have read many posts on the web by those that should know saying this listing really does nothing more then pay a certain amount of lip service to saving steelhead. The listing adds almost no more protection to the fish then what is already in place. Oh well, it looks good in print and the politicians look like they are truly doing something. Sorry if I sound a bit skeptical but I see little to no hope for any anadromous species of fish in Washington. Most of those involved in the attempt to save such fish are so arrogant they chase away those that would like to help and those who were not more interested in their own apperances have quit working on the issues out of disgust.