Seattle Times: Restoration of the Elwha’s wild runs will need a careful jump-start

Will Stelle, regional administrator of the  NOAA Fisheries Service, wrote about fisheries and hatchery management in the context of Elwha River restoration in the Seattle Times yesterday:

Federal, state and tribal fisheries managers and other interested parties must spell out this transition strategy with measurable, verifiable metrics under the Endangered Species Act that will be subject to scientific and public review. If the productivity of a restored Elwha is as strong as we expect, there likely will be little need for continued hatchery programs following restoration.

What’s the rush? Amid the concerns and consequences of dam removal, we must not lose sight of the severe effects to the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe in the near-term and its treaty-protected fishing right. NOAA Fisheries strongly supports the tribe’s treaty right and knows that the right means fishing to the tribe, not just the mere existence of fish.

NOAA Fisheries shares in the tribe’s pride and excitement about the restoration plan and looks forward to working with them and others on an acceptable hatchery transition that allows the tribe to be fishing as soon as possible on strong, abundant, wild Elwha River salmon and steelhead populations.

Join the effort, hold our feet to the fire and commit to success in rebuilding the wild runs of the Elwha.