NOAA Fisheries Issues Recovery Plan for Washington’s Lake Ozette Sockeye Salmon

May 29, 2009

Sockeye salmon.
Sockeye salmon.

High Resolution (Credit: NOAA)

NOAA’s Fisheries Service has released its recovery plan for sockeye salmon in Washington’s Lake Ozette and its surrounding watershed aimed at making these federally protected fish naturally self-sustaining, with enough fish to spawn in the wild and return year after year so they are likely to persist for the next century and beyond.

Lake Ozette sockeye salmon were listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 1999. The 7,550-acre lake, in Washington’s Olympic National Park on the Olympic Peninsula, is the state’s third largest.

“This Lake Ozette sockeye salmon recovery plan is a roadmap and resource for people and organizations willing to take action to help recover these fish,” said Barry Thom, the fishery agency’s acting regional administrator. The plan provides a range of recovery actions that address the factors affecting sockeye at all stages of their life cycle.

The plan calls for a range of actions, including improvements to habitat by eradicating non-native plants next to streams and replacing them with native species and by placing large woody debris along stream banks that will provide shade for young fish and stabilize the adjacent floodplain areas. The plan also calls for continuing existing restrictions on sockeye harvests.

Although NOAA’s Fisheries Service is required under the ESA to produce a recovery plan, its implementation is voluntary.

The plan was developed over the last three and a half years by NOAA’s Fisheries Service with the active participation of the Lake Ozette Steering Committee, a group of local citizens, landowners, forest managers, biologists and representatives of several county, state, tribal and federal entities and the Washington Governor’s Salmon Recovery Office. The agency’s Puget Sound technical recovery team developed the biological recovery goals that are the scientific basis for the plan.

“We look forward to working with the locally based Lake Ozette implementation group and the regional Washington Coast Sustainable Salmon Partnership in implementing this plan," said Phil Miller, the Governor’s Salmon Recovery Office regional coordinator.

The Washington Department of Natural Resources and the Department of Fish and Wildlife were active participants in developing the plan, Miller added.

NOAA’s Fisheries Service said the plan has objective, measurable criteria that if met will lead to having the species removed from the ESA list. These criteria include recovery goals for sockeye abundance, distribution and diversity.

The Lake Ozette recovery plan is the fourth salmon recovery plan produced by NOAA as part of a larger commitment from NOAA’s Fisheries Service to develop salmon recovery plans for species listed throughout the Pacific Northwest. Elements of plans from over 60 sub-basin and watersheds across the Northwest are being incorporated into broader regional recovery plans for salmon and steelhead in the Interior Columbia Basin, Snake River Basin, Oregon Coast, Puget Sound and the Lower Columbia and Willamette areas.

NOAA understands and predicts changes in the Earth’s environment, from the depths of the oceans to the surface of the sun, and conserves and manages our coastal and marine resources.