As a result of their investigations, the California HSRG identified a suite of issues applicable to hatchery programs statewide. These common issues are organized under five key hatchery topics. Standards and guidelines were developed for each of these topics and are listed in Chapter 4 of the California Hatchery Review Report. The standards are criteria that a program must meet, while the guidelines identify ways to meet the standard. The report also describes the scientific rationale for the standards and guidelines. Each of the 19 hatchery programs was reviewed for compliance with the standards. When non-compliance was noted, guidelines were identified that could enable a program to achieve compliance. In many cases, the California HSRG also provided comments about why the standard was met or not met for a particular program. These program-specific compliance/non-compliance determinations, by topic, are recorded in the 19 individual Program Reports in Appendix VIII of the California Hatchery Review Report.
The California HSRG recommends specific standards and guidelines for broodstock management. These address the source and life history attributes of fish used; the collection and subsequent holding of fish until spawning and, with steelhead, until release; the selection of fish used for spawning from among all fish trapped; the selection of mating partners for spawning; and the effects of broodstock collection on the naturally-spawning populations of the same species.
Program Size and Release Strategies
Production goals for salmon and steelhead programs in California (e.g., harvest augmentation and conservation) typically identify numbers of juveniles to be released without specifying whether or how hatchery production contributes to adult recruits, harvest, conservation, or other purposes. Instead, hatchery goals must be expressed as adult production goals. In California, these are best expressed as age-3 pre-fishery ocean recruitment for Chinook salmon or adult freshwater returns for coho salmon and steelhead. Integrated or conservation-oriented programs also should include goals to perpetuate attributes such as size and age composition and run timing for the integrated or targeted natural populations.
Incubation, Rearing and Fish Health Management
The California HSRG recommends adopting standards developed by the Integrated Hatchery Operations Team (IHOT) for the Columbia River Basin, with minor modifications, to address current incubation and rearing conditions in California’s anadromous fish programs. It is also recommended that the State of California develop a comprehensive fish health policy and biosecurity plan for all anadromous fish hatcheries. A Fish Health Management Plan should also be developed for ESA-listed species or where fish disease poses a risk to hatchery or natural fish populations.
Monitoring and Evaluation
Monitoring and evaluation must be recognized as an essential component of all anadromous fish hatchery programs in California. The California HRSG’s eight central recommendations for each program are to:
- Prepare a Hatchery and Genetic Management Plan
- Establish a monitoring and evaluation program to assess hatchery performance and impacts
- Develop Hatchery Coordination Teams that bring together specialized expertise from a diversity of disciplines
- Conduct in-hatchery monitoring and reporting of fish propagation and culture
- Monitor and report hatchery juvenile post-release emigration
- Design marking and tagging programs to evaluate the performance and impacts of hatchery fish
- Monitor and report adult fishery contributions and escapement
- Assess hatchery program performance with respect to operational goals (e.g., adult recruitment) and societal benefits
Integration with Habitat Restoration
Where feasible, hatchery staff should be aware of and participate in habitat restoration planning processes and implementation.