Bureau of Indian Affairs
Steelhead Trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) on Prince of Wales Island, Alaska: Ecological Characteristics & Management for Subsistence Fisheries
Wednesday — June 16, 2010
Pacific Forum — 3:00 p.m.
Steelhead (Oncorhynchus mykiss) are anadromous forms of rainbow trout. Formerly found in nearly all freshwater stream systems along the Canadian and U.S. Pacific coast, the distribution, diversity, and abundance of native steelhead has been reduced throughout much of their range, due to habitat loss, over-fishing, competition from hatchery-reared fish, and other factors. During the 1990’s, conservation issues arising from increasing harvests by sport anglers, coupled with subsequent declines in abundance, led the State of Alaska to enact restrictive catch-and-release regulations for O. mykiss throughout the southeast region. Because system-specific estimates of population size and life history data for these fish are largely unavailable, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) has expressed concern over the re-establishment of Federal subsistence steelhead fisheries, in the absence of information that is necessary for the management of this important species.
The Prince of Wales Island (PWI) archipelago of southeast Alaska contains 77 watersheds which host spawning runs of Oncorhynchus mykiss, and encompasses a number of rural communities whose residents have traditionally harvested these fish. Re-opening of steelhead subsistence fisheries by the FSB began on PWI in 2003, and Federal research studies on O. mykiss were subsequently initiated on a suite of the island’s streams. The talk will present some of the findings from these studies.
Future research efforts will be directed at expanding weir censuses throughout the region; gathering watershed-scale biological and physical data, for use in developing steelhead production models; and genetic studies to address meta-population hypotheses.
Next: June 23 - Crissy Huffard