White Sturgeon Hatchery Master Plan
Construction and operation of the hydropower system has substantially reduced White Sturgeon productivity and fishery opportunity throughout the Columbia and Snake River systems. Sturgeon occur throughout most of their historical range but current production is far below the historical level. Low numbers severely limit sturgeon harvest opportunities throughout the basin, particularly for impounded populations upstream from Bonneville Dam. Current status, limiting factors, and conservation, restoration, and mitigation efforts are detailed for White Sturgeon throughout the Columbia Basin in a Planning Framework prepared at the direction of the Northwest Power and Conservation Council (Beamesderfer & Anders 2013). This document was prepared by participants in Council-funded sturgeon projects with input from a series of regional workshops and identified a series of findings and recommendations which provide guidance for sturgeon programs and projects throughout the region. The framework found that careful use of sturgeon hatcheries has the potential to help perpetuate declining wild populations and mitigate for lost natural production in many impounded areas. Consistent with regional sturgeon framework recommendations, the Columbia Inter-Tribal Fish Commission prepared this Master Plan describing a sturgeon hatchery program designed to help mitigate impacts of development and operation of the Federal Columbia River Power System on sturgeon population productivity and fishery opportunities in lower mid-Columbia River and lower Snake River reservoirs. Sturgeon hatchery program goals include:
- Enhance commercial, subsistence and recreational fisheries for impounded subpopulations of sturgeon consistent with habitat capacities.
- Conduct sturgeon enhancement in a manner which ensures protection and conservation of natural populations and the ecosystem.
- Employ hatchery-produced sturgeon as an experimental tool for applied research on limiting factors, habitat capacity, broodstock limitations, population parameters, and immigration/entrainment in natural populations.