Xaa-wvn-taa-ghii~-li~ (Smith River) Hydroacoustic Lhuk (Salmonid) Adult Enumeration, Sri'-sree-nvsh (seal) and Ch'an'-t'in (sea lion) Population Estimates
This project was 100% funded by the Bureau of Indian Affairs Tribal Resilience Program and Fish Hatchery Maintenance Program.
The Planning Strategy is to conduct a pilot study to initiate long term monitoring of adult lhuk populations migrating annually from the ocean to the coastal Smith River, in combination with pinniped population and predation analysis. Variability in annual precipitation due to climate change have altered both prey and predator behavior in the coastal area directly surrounding the mouth of the Smith River, the Smith River Estuary, and portions of the river directly adjacent to marine influence. A primary focus of this pilot study is to establish baseline population data on lhuk species within the study area and estimations of predation pressure placed on these tribal trust species by pinnipeds. Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) allows us to know that the number of fish is decreasing while the number of instances of pinniped attacks and pinnipeds themselves are increasing. Pinniped behavior has also been identified as changing in TEK collected by TDN Natural Resources staff in the past. TDN knows because of this TEK that historically pinnipeds did not move upriver, now they do—this pilot study and subsequent monitoring program will help quantify observed changes, and assess species’ vulnerability under changing ecosystem conditions to guide future management strategies.
The ultimate measure of project success will be the development of baseline data for lhuk and pinniped populations, predation assessment and the completion of a vulnerability assessment and adaptation strategies for the Tolowa Dee-ni′ Nation to proactively address those vulnerabilities. This information will greatly inform the Nation’s Ocean and Coastal Management planning for this critical tribal trust species and provide important information to integrate into the Integrated Resources Management Plan for Fisheries.