Kelt Reconditioning and Reproductive Success Evaluation Research: 2016 Annual Technical Report
The Kelt Reconditioning and Reproductive Success Evaluation Project is a research, monitoring, and evaluation (RM&E) uncertainties category project funded through the Columbia Basin Fish Accords. The objectives are to evaluate methodologies to produce viable artificially reconditioned repeat steelhead spawners and to determine the productivity of repeat spawners. Work occurs in both the Yakima and Snake river basins. We focused on collecting steelhead kelts at juvenile bypass facilities in Prosser and Lower Granite dams, and additionally some fish were collected at Dworshak National Fish Hatchery. These kelts were reconditioned (given prophylactic treatments and fed a specially formulated diet) at Prosser and Dworshak National Fish Hatcheries. Survival of long-term reconditioned kelts has been 42% (17 years) for Yakima River at Prosser Hatchery and at Dworshak Hatchery 21% (5 years) for hatchery origin fish, 33% (6 years; 46% over the last 4 years) for mixed stock collections at Lower Granite Dam, 32% (2 years) for South Fork Clearwater collections, and 29% (2 years) for Fish Creek collections. Using estradiol assays, we have established that steelhead rematuration rates vary annually and spatially and ranged from 14.1% to 77.8%. We determined that kelts can remature as consecutive or skip spawners, typically returning to spawn in 5 or 6 months after kelting or 17 to 18 months later. A total of 37 reconditioned B-run steelhead were released below Lower Granite Dam in 2016 to address Reasonable and Prudent Alternative 33 of the FCRSP Biological Opinion. We air-spawned a group of maiden Dworshak Hatchery steelhead in 2016. These fish were then reconditioned and the rematuring fish air-spawned as consecutive repeat spawners in 2016 to compare performance between maiden and repeat spawnings. Repeat spawners relative to maiden spawners had higher fecundity, larger eggs and similar fertilization rates. A total of 247 reconditioned, remature steelhead were released in the Yakima River in 2016. Reproductive success of reconditioned steelhead was confirmed in the Yakima River once again with assignments of 55 juvenile fish to 29 unique parents. Lifetime reproductive success for reconditioned kelt steelhead was estimated as 2.33 relative to single time spawning steelhead. Mature reconditioned steelhead kelts were stocked in the Cle Elum Hatchery Spawning Channel in 2016, to evaluate the feasibility of using the facility to evaluate reproductive success in a more controlled setting. We conducted feed trials with cooperation of the USDA Aquaculture research group from Bozeman, MT and found that the feed produced shows promising results with kelts increasing in lipid levels. We drafted a Snake River Basin steelhead kelt reconditioning facility master plan, which was approved by the Northwest Power and Conservation Council (NPCC) in December 2016. This master plan summarizes our research effort, identifies fish collection locations, reconditioning locations, and provides a conceptual construction plan for a reconditioning facility. Next we plan to develop a final design and construction documents, complete environmental compliance requirements and return to the NPCC for a final recommendation. Our team has published 12 manuscripts to date, with four in 2016. Additionally, the team gave 6 professional presentations in 2016.
Hatch, D., Branstetter R., Stephenson J., Pierce A., Newell J., Bosch W., Everett S., Graham N., Medeiros, L., Jenkins L., Tall Bull, T., Goodwin, J., Hoffman, N., Cavileer T., Nagler, J., Fiander M., Frederickson C., Blodgett J., Fast D., Lessard, R., Whiteaker J., and Johnson R. 2017. Kelt Reconditioning and Reproductive Success Evaluation Research. 1/1/2016 – 12/31/2016 Bonneville Power Administration Annual Report, 2007-401-00. Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission Technical Report 17-04. Portland, OR. 113p.