[env-trinity] CBB: Economists: Need For 'Rationalization' Of Basin Fish-Tagging Programs

Sari Sommarstrom sari at sisqtel.net
Fri Jun 21 14:10:41 PDT 2013

Any similar study done for Klamath-Trinity tagging?


THE COLUMBIA BASIN BULLETIN: Weekly Fish and Wildlife News


June 21, 2013  Issue No. 667


Economists: Need For 'Rationalization' Of Basin Fish-Tagging Programs Now
Spending $70 Million A Year


One size definitely does not fit all when it comes to assessing how to spend
a limited pot of money for the marking and tagging of Columbia River basin
fish for research to determine how various stocks might be better managed.


"The kinds of cost metrics that are needed as the basis for making decisions
about how to allocate scarce resources for fish tagging cannot be found in
project or agency budgets, but rather require a model like the one utilized
here, which recognizes and takes account of binding constraints, economies
of scale, and spillover effects (sharing data), all of which have sizable
effects on questions of cost effectiveness," according to a report,
"Cost-effectiveness of Fish Tagging Technologies and Programs in the
Columbia River Basin," prepared by the Independent Economic Analysis Board
for the Northwest Power and Conservation Council.


It is estimated that about $70 million was spent during fiscal year 2012 for
various forms of fish research tagging and/or marking, ranging from
electronic tags to fin clips to genetic sampling and analysis. The research
aims to inform fish managers about the status of fish populations such as
salmon and steelhead stocks that are the target of federal, state and tribal
preservation and restoration efforts. 


Much of that money is funded by the Bonneville Power Administration as
mitigation for impacts to fish and wildlife caused by the construction and
operation of the Columbia-Snake river hydro system. BPA markets power
generated in the region's federal hydro system.


The NPCC is charged by the Northwest Power Act with recommending how that
money should be spent. The panel is peopled by appointees of the governors
of Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington. The Council has sought, through a
"Fish Tagging Forum" process involving fish tagging project proponents and
others, to determine were tagging funding would be most appropriately,
effectively, and efficiently spent.


(See CBB, May 10, 2013, "Fish Tagging Forum Finds Some Consensus On
Efficiencies But Differences On Coded Wire Tags"
http://www.cbbulletin.com/426530.aspx and CBB, March 1, 2013,
"Columbia/Snake Basin Fish Tagging Costs $61.4 Million In 2012; Forum
Evaluates Data Value For Policy" http://www.cbbulletin.com/425291.aspx)


The IEAB is made up of economists called together to scrutinize difficult
economic issues associated with the Council's fish and wildlife program. 


Fish of various species and stocks are tagged to obtain data on their
numbers, harvest rates, behavior, habitat use, mortality rates, as well as
the success of hatchery and other enhancement programs. Program
effectiveness means achieving the science-based objectives of the program;
cost effectiveness involves achieving the objectives at the lowest cost.


Finding that program and cost effectiveness can be very complicated, given
the fact that "Specific tagging programs involve various government agencies
and non-governmental entities that overlap and intersect in terms of their
interests, responsibilities, and funding. 


"Fish tagging generates information on over one hundred 'indicators' that
are used to address a wide range of management questions," the report says.


"Fish tagging in the CRB is complex scientifically, technologically,
administratively and jurisdictionally. The many sources of overlap,
complementarity and spillover represent some of the ways that achieving
cost-effectiveness is not straightforward or obvious," the report says. "The
evidence suggests that to achieve cost-effectiveness, and also to maximize
program effectiveness, a more concerted and coordinated management program
aimed squarely at "rationalizing" (achieving cost-effectiveness and program
effectiveness) is needed. 


"We see a need for 'rationalization' of fish tagging programs basin-wide,
where by "rationalization" we mean organizing according to scientific
principles of management in order to increase cost effectiveness and program
effectiveness," the IEAB says. Current programs are fairly decentralized,
and yet positive spillover effects and coordination benefits exist at many
levels. Taking advantage of wide-ranging mutual benefits represents a
complex coordination problem. A rationalization program could both improve
program efficiency and bring about cost savings at the same time."


As a part of its review effort the IEAB launched development, and tested the
application, of a Fish Tagging (FT) mathematical programming model as a tool
for evaluating the cost effectiveness of fish tagging. The model was used to
evaluate the differences in cost between coded-wire tags and genetic marking
for harvest indicators. 


"Despite some cost advantages in tagging and other qualitative advantages,
under current conditions, the model suggests that high sampling and lab
costs for genetics makes it more expensive than coded-wire tags (CWT) for
most stocks. 


"Genetic marking, however, generates data that has qualitative advantages
over CWT data, and may have advantages over CWT in some situations. For
example, CWT is not cost-effective for monitoring harvests of wild stocks
and genetic marking may have cost advantages in basins with few non-target
fish in the fishery, such as the Snake River basin," the report said. 


Further development - in collaboration with others in the region-- of the
model is needed, IEAB member Bill Jaeger told the Council during its June 18
meeting in Missoula, Mont. But the IEAB feels ultimately that the model can
help answer some of those difficult questions.


."the initial analyses described in the report give a strong indication that
the programming model developed for the study could serve a valuable role in
promoting future improvements in fish tagging cost effectiveness and program
effectiveness. Indeed, a refined version of the current model could play a
key role in the kind of rationalization process being recommended, although
the results presented in this report barely scratch the surface of what is
possible with the FT model. 


"Many additional issues can be address by examining results from the model,
and scenarios can be run to evaluate 'what if' questions related to costs,
detection probabilities, fish populations, hatchery operations, allocation
of budgets and responsibilities, etc.," the report says. 



The Council decided last week to offer the new report, and the model it
utilizes, for public comment.


The report can be found at http://www.nwcouncil.org/


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