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  • Snake River Sockeye Salmon captive propagation


Northwest Fisheries Science Center (NWFSC) Environmental and Fisheries Sciences EFS - Fisheries Enhancement and Conservation


Redfish Sockeye
Snake River Sockeye Salmon captive propagation
The Snake River Sockeye Salmon Captive Propagation project is an interagency collaboration between NOAA, IDFG, and the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes to reestablish self-sustaining populations of sockeye salmon in the Sawtooth Valley lakes and delist the ESU from the US Endangered Species Act. The project consists of two captive broodstocks, a smolt supplementation program, and hatchery and wild fish monitoring. NOAA maintains one captive broodstock to protect against extinction, preserve genetic diversity, maintain anadromy, provide half of the embryos required to produce 1,000,000 smolts at the IDFG hatchery, and captive adults to spawn naturally in Sawtooth Valley lakes. Freshwater rearing (egg to smolt) occurs at the Burley Creek Hatchery, and seawater rearing (smolt to adult) occurs at Manchester. Maturing adults return to freshwater at Burley Hatchery for final maturation and artificial spawning. The project prevented the extinction of the Snake River sockeye salmon ESU over the last 30 years. NOAA maintains five brood years of sockeye salmon to annually produce 1,300 adults and 500,000 eyed embryos. The project is specifically called for in the Snake River Sockeye Salmon Recovery Plan and NOAA Columbia River Biological Opinions. The Bonneville Power Administration funds project facilities at Manchester and Burley Creek and NOAA staff time. Discontinuing the project would negatively impact national, state and tribal recovery efforts and increase extinction risk of the ESU

Data Sets

Research Themes

Recovery and rebuilding of marine and coastal species
The Pacific Northwest is home to several iconic endangered species, including Pacific salmon and killer whales, and several rockfish species. Mandates such as the Endangered Species Act, MagnusonStevens Act, and the Marine Mammal Protection Act, grant NOAA Fisheries the authority to manage the recovery of depleted species and stocks. The NWFSC contributes to species recovery through research, monitoring and analysis, providing NOAA managers and regional stakeholders the tools and information they need to craft effective regulations and develop sustainable plans for recovery.

Research Foci

Characterize the population biology of species, and develop and improve methods for predicting the status of populations
To evaluate species status and recovery, it is necessary to understand key aspects of the population biology of the species in question. This includes basic information on abundance, age structure, recruitment, spatial distribution, life history and how the species interacts with its ecosystem. For some recovering species, including most overfished groundfish stocks, many ESA-listed Pacific salmon stocks, and high profile species such as Southern Resident killer whales, this basic information is often reasonably well understood. For other recovering species, such as Pacific eulachon and some ESA-listed rockfish species, even basic information (e.g. stock abundance) is unknown. Even for well-studied species, key information on survival rates for critical life stages and how the environment affects these vital rates is lacking. Without basic information on species dynamics, achieving other goals such as quantifying relationships between human activities and species recovery or even knowing if species recovery goals are being met will not be successful. The NWFSC, in partnership with regional stakeholders, including states, tribes and industry, is conducting research to collect and monitor critical demographic information for recovering species.
Evaluate the effects of artificial propagation on recovery, rebuilding and sustainability of marine and anadromous species
Artificial propagation has the potential to provide benefits both to species recovery and to seafood sustainability. Artificial propagation also poses risks to wild species and ecosystems. In the past, the use of artificial propagation has been an important risk factor for several threatened and endangered species, particularly Pacific salmon. Assessing the effects of artificial propagation is complicated by the fact that programs vary widely in size, rearing practices, and goals. The NWFSC conducts critical research on the influence of artificial propagation on population dynamics, growth rate, ecology of infectious disease, and the evolutionary fitness of wild fish and other marine organisms. Results of this research are needed to support the recovery of fish populations and have been especially valuable in providing critical information for recent, larger scale habitat restoration activities such as the Elwha Dam removal. NWFSC will continue to conduct science that informs the discussion about whether to allow fish to recolonize naturally after barrier removal, or to supplement populations with hatchery fish and on the impacts of aquaculture on fishing pressure and practices, and on the surrounding environment and ecosystem.


Artificial Propagation
Salmonid recovery
Snake River
research area
captive broodstocks
fish used for mating that have been produced in the hatchery


Adult Snake River Sockeye Salmon for release in Recovery Actions
Some of the Project's maturing sockeye salmon (0-500) will be shipped to Idaho for release into Stanley Basin Lakes. These fish will be allowed to spawn on their own. This is an action called for in the Snake River Sockeye Salmon Recovery Plan
An annual technical report on project activities will be submitted to the Bonneville Power Administration
A report on project facility, fish culture and spawning activities will be submitted to the Bonneville Power Administration. The report will be published and available online through the Bonneville Power Administration.
Delayed mortality data provided to IDFG
NWFSC scientists will develop and transfer a data set of physiological indices of smoltification and stress response of sockeye salmon smolts produced at the Springfield hatchery and released into Redfish Lake Creek.
Ongoing captive rearing of Broodyear 2015-2020 Snake River Sockeye Salmon.
All year long the project will continue to provide freshwater and seawater rearing of multiple broodyears of Snake River Sockeye Salmon. These ESA-listed fish will provide a safety net in the event no fish return from the sea and provide fish for use in recovery actions called for in the Snake River Sockeye Salmon Recovery Plan.
Produce Snake River Sockeye Salmon eyed eggs for use in recovery actions.
When the Snake River Sockeye Salmon eggs incubating at Burley Creek Hatchery reach the eyed stage they will be packaged and shipped to the Idaho Department of Fish and Game Springfield Hatchery. These eyed eggs will be incorporated into a production program that is generating smolts for release to Recover the ESA listed population.
Refine techniques for captive rearing and spawning.
Throughout the year the project will continue to develop and test fish culture techniques that improve fish survival, fecundity, and egg quality.
Spawn Snake River Sockeye Salmon to produce fertilized eggs for use in Recovery Actions.
Most of the Project's maturing Sockeye Salmon (500-1,200)will be spawned at Burley Creek Hatchery. The resulting fertilized eggs will be incubated to the eyed stage at this facility.
The project will collect data on the growth, survival, maturation age, fecundity, and egg weight of Snake River Sockeye Salmon maintained in captivitiy.
The project will add another year to a multiyear data set on the growth, survival, maturation age, fecundity and egg size of fish maintained and spawned in the program.


Species Oncorhynchus nerka
kokanee, red salmon, sockeye salmon


Alyssa Mische
Barry Berejikian
Program Manager
Brad Gadberry
Bryon Kluver
Christopher Tatara
Project Group Lead
Christopher Tatara
Project Group Lead
Deborah Frost
Deborah Frost