Trinity Coho in Hoopa

Fishing the North Coast: Hoopa proposes weir fishery targeting Trinity hatchery coho

By Kenny Priest

In a draft proposal published on their website, the Hoopa Valley Tribe is planning to conduct a selective fishery using a weir and targeting Trinity River Hatchery Coho salmon beginning in mid-October and running through November of 2015.

The selective fishery will occur within the exterior boundaries of the Hoopa Valley Reservation with an overall harvest impact of no more than 10,000 adult hatchery Coho salmon identified by the absence of the right maxillary bone.

The plan anticipates full mitigation at Trinity River Hatchery (TRH) and near full exploitation of hatchery Coho salmon. Conservation of non-hatchery-origin (“natural”) Coho is affected through (1) selective removal of hatchery adults while passing natural Coho salmon upstream, and (2) a sorting weir in vicinity of Lewiston for regulating presence of hatchery spawners and collecting natural brood stock for use at TRH.

The need for mitigation at TRH arose with creation of the Trinity River Division of the Central Valley Project in California including construction of the Trinity and Lewiston dams that divert a substantial portion of the river’s flow to the Central Valley of California for agricultural, and municipal and industrial uses. Lewiston Dam, completed in 1963, is the upstream limit of anadromy, blocking access to 109 miles of salmon and steelhead spawning and rearing habitat in the upper river (including significant reaches of Coho salmon habitat rated with high intrinsic potential by NOAA 2012).

The Trinity River Hatchery was constructed at the base of Lewiston Dam to mitigate for the loss of anadromous fish habitat above TRD. The hatchery is located at river mile 110 near the town of Lewiston in Trinity County.

The logistics of the plan include:

1. Weir would be deployed at a point nearest the Hoopa South boundary to avoid interactions with the gill net fishery. This reach also has favorable characteristics for weir deployment such as minimal valley constraint, relatively shallow contour and gravel substrate

2. Dates for operation are approximately Oct. 20 through Nov. 30. Installation date could vary to minimize conflict with the tribal member gill net fishery.

3. Hours of weir operation are 24 hours each day.

4. The weir will be operated by Hoopa Valley Tribal Members engaged in private contract with the HVTC — nine weeks total, which includes one week for installing, six weeks of fishing and one week for removal and storage. Contract fishers will observe a rotation of three-8-hour shifts with 4 fishers per shift.

5. Hoopa Tribal Fisheries Department staff will monitor and provide scientific support only during harvest and possible weir installation.

6. Fish will be captured in the weir “corral,” marked fish will be removed to totes on trailers and unmarked fish will be delivered back to the river for upstream migration.

To view the entire plan, visithttps://www.hoopa-nsn.gov/news/fisheries-dept-releases-draft-2015-coho-management-plan.

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