Three sockeye salmon
By LORI ANN EDMO
FORT HALL — The number of anadromous fish that returned to Redfish Lake and the Sawtooth Fish Hatchery is 49 said Shoshone-Bannock Tribal Fisheries BPA Sockeye Research Manager Kurt Tardy.
The number includes 44 that returned to Redfish Lake and 5 that returned to Sawtooth Fish Hatchery. A portion of the fish will be used for broodstock (fish for the future) where the adults will be taken into the hatchery for production into future use and the remainder will be released into Redfish Lake.
The fish that returned has declined from a year ago when there was 38 adults that returned to Petit Lake and 113 to Redfish Lake — it’s because of warm water temperatures and low water Tardy said. That is why the Idaho Fish and Game implemented the truck and haul project from Lower Granite Dam where sockeye were taken from the fish trap then taken to Eagle Fish Hatchery. Three of those fish were taken to Petit Lake for natural spawning.
Anadromous fish are those that migrate from the ocean to spawn in freshwater rivers. In March 1990 the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes petitioned the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) to list the Snake River Sockeye Salmon as endangered because only four adult salmon returned to the Sawtooth Basin. They were officially listed in November 1991 and the Tribes implemented the Snake River Sockeye Salmon Habitat and Limnological Research Project. It’s part of an interagency effort to the prevent the extinction of Snake River Sockeye Salmon according to a project report submitted to the Bonneville Power Agency that provides funding for the interagency recovery effort.
The immediate project goal is to increase the population of the Snake River Sockeye Salmon while preserving the genetic characteristics and life history. The Tribes long-term goal is maintain a viable population that warrants delisting and provides Tribal harvest opportunities.
On a positive note Tardy said over the past three years the Tribes Recovery Program has returned 44 anadromous adults to Petit Lake – the first returns in 30 plus years. The returns are the product of adaptive management practices utilizing Snake River Sockeye from captive stocks released into Petit Lake to spawn with residual Sockeye. He said with the anadromous adults spawning in Petit Lake, the program has increased the survival of the population and established a unique Petit Lake genetic profile. As a result it allows the program to focus specifically on Petit Lake population less dependent on Redfish Lake stock.
Tardy said the program is maintaining a 1% smolt to adult rate (babies to adult) from the estimated 9,000 plus juvenile fish migrating from Petit Lake this year and they anticipate a return of close to 100 adult fish in 2023.