By Allen Smith, Board Chairman
At this time we are heavily involved in conducting our 13th annual Chinook Salmon Enhancement program at the Santa Cruz Boat harbor. This year we are not conducting our Chinook Program in Monterey City Harbor as well due to circumstances beyond our control, but we hope to be back there again in future years. Our program this year calls for acclimating over 180,000 chinook smolts from fresh to salt water for subsequent release into Monterey Bay to grow to adulthood in the ocean. Since the Chinook Program began over 12 years ago we have released more than 1,230,000 chinook smolts into the Monterey Bay to enhance the sport and commercial fishery in this region. We continue to give our special thanks to the Monterey Harbor and Santa Cruz Port Districts for their outstanding cooperation and assistance in providing facilities for our chinook sea pens.
Near the end of last year after approximately 10 months of very diligent and arduous work by MBSTP & NMFS representatives, we were able to resolve the many significant issues regarding the issuance of our Coho & Steelhead Section 10 Permits. This resolution has allowed us to some extent to go forward with our program mission and goals regarding Central Coast coho salmon and steelhead restoration activities. Having said this, however, there remain significant differences of philosophy and opinion between MBSTP and some representatives of the CDFG & NMFS regarding the continuation of the augmentation of steelhead populations in many of the Central Coastal Region streams.
In January and February of this year we were successful in obtaining CDFG & NMFS management approval of some of the elements of our alternate proposal to augment steelhead populations in some area streams.This approval reversed a previous regulatory position which did not allow us to perform any meaningful steelhead augmentation activities. I intend to keep you advised of our future progress on this urgent issue.
MBSTP & NMFS Science Center personnel are continuing to work very well together in a team effort to implement a coho salmon captive brood-stock rearing program. The major purpose of this endeavor is to attempt to turn around the severe decrease in our local coho populations occurring frequently now in many of the year-classes of these salmonids.
On behalf of MBSTP, I want to offer our gratitude to all of the organizations, groups, businesses, and individuals who provide their financial and other forms of support of our coho, steelhead, and chinook restoration activities and operations. Our special thanks to The David & Lucile Packard Foundation; Fish & Game Advisory Commissions of Monterey, Santa Clara, and Santa Cruz Counties; Commercial Salmon Stamp Committee; Scott Watershed Council; Monterey City Harbor District; Santa Cruz Port District; and the many individuals, businesses, schools, and community organizations who continue to provide their support to us. This outstanding support is the essential key in allowing us to continue with our salmonid restoration mission.