Columbia Basin Fish and Wildlife Program Columbia Basin Fish and Wildlife Program
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Project Summary

Project 2008-115-00 - Lake Roosevelt Burbot Population Assessment
Project Number:
Lake Roosevelt Burbot Population Assessment
Despite their wide distribution, burbot Lota lota have often been neglected by anglers and fish management agencies in North America (Quinn 2000). Only four of 20 states with burbot
regulated their harvest as of 2000, yet growing angler interest in burbot in some regions, ecosystem-based management, and declines in some populations emphasize the need for greater
focus on burbot by management entities.

Several North American burbot populations have declined and the declines were attributed to over harvest (Bonar et al. 2000a; Paragamian et al. 2000; Quinn 2000; Ward et al. 2000),
negative species interactions (Carl 1992; Bonar et al. 2000a), and impacts from hydropower development (Paragamian et al. 2000), decreased productivity (Paragamian et al. 2000), and
reservoir fluctuations (Krueger and Hubert 1997).

In Washington State, populations of burbot are known to occur in 11 lakes and reservoirs in the upper Columbia River drainage (Bonar et al. 1997; Bonar et al. 2000a; Wydoski and
Whitney 2003). A review of burbot stock status in Washington categorized the status of each population as healthy, depressed, critical, or unknown based on existing abundance, size
structure, growth, and condition data (Bonar et al. 1997; Bonar et al. 2000a). The Lake Roosevelt population was considered healthy due to its stable abundance based on electrofishing
and gill net catch-per-unit-effort (C/f) data, although nothing was known about size structure, growth, or condition.

Subsequent to the status review, Polacek et al. (2006) analyzed data from burbot captured during electrofishing and gill net sampling conducted on Lake Roosevelt between 1988 and
2001. They indicated that abundance, based on C/f, had increased after 1994; though, all of the C/f values were relatively low and the trend analysis was qualitative. Growth and
condition of Lake Roosevelt burbot were found to be low, which were attributed to poor rearing conditions in the reservoir (Polacek et al. 2006). They suggested that reservoir
operations were unlikely to change, so if the Lake Roosevelt burbot population is a priority then it will likely have to be actively managed to achieve increases in abundance, survival,
growth, and condition.

Standardized stock assessment data is needed to facilitate management of the Lake Roosevelt burbot population. Bonar et al. (1997; 2000a) pointed out the need for a standardized stock
assessment program that monitors trends in abundance, growth, and condition of burbot in Washington State. Standardized fish sampling programs have been used to determine and
monitor stock status of multiple fish populations (Ney 1993; Willis and Murphy 1996; Bonar et al. 2000b), including burbot (Bernard et al. 1993). Without a standardized stock
assessment protocol, management biologists have no way of monitoring changes in burbot populations as a result of changes in management, exploitation, biological factors, or
environmental factors.

The Fall Walleye Index Netting (FWIN) program implemented annually in Lake Roosevelt may provide the standardized stock assessment program needed for monitoring burbot
population status and trends (see the proposal for the Lake Roosevelt Fisheries Evaluation Project, BPA Project No. 1994-043-00) for a complete description of FWIN). The FWIN
program, established in 2002, is used to monitor Lake Roosevelt walleye population trends, but burbot are regularly captured as bycatch in FWIN gill nets. Managers recognized the
potential of FWIN for monitoring burbot stock status, so catch and biological data were also collected on burbot. However, the FWIN data for burbot has never been analyzed. It is
unknown if FWIN is adequate (a=0.05, ß=0.20, effect=25%) for monitoring status and trends in stock assessment metrics (C/f, growth, condition). As part of this project, we will analyze the
existing FWIN data to determine if it is adequate for monitoring burbot stock status. Based on the results, we will revise our project proposal to address the management needs of burbot in Lake Roosevelt.
Proponent Orgs:
Colville Confederated Tribes (Tribe)
Starting FY:
Ending FY:
Implementation - Project Status Report
Province Subbasin %
Intermountain Columbia Upper 100.00%
RM and E
Focal Species:
Species Benefit:
Anadromous: 0.0%   Resident: 100.0%   Wildlife: 0.0%
BiOp Association:

No photos have been uploaded yet for this Project.

Summary of Budgets

To view all expenditures for all fiscal years, click "Project Exp. by FY"

To see more detailed project budget information, please visit the "Project Budget" page

Decided Budget Transfers  (FY2020 - FY2022)

Acct FY Acct Type Amount Fund Budget Decision Date
FY2020 Expense $390,747 From: Fish Accord - Colville Accord Extensions (Colville Tribe) 10/1/2018 10/01/2018
FY2020 Expense $18,518 From: Fish Accord - Colville Accord budget transfer (CCT, WS) 4/11/2019 04/11/2019
FY2020 Expense $2,255 From: Fish Accord - Colville Accord budget transfer (CCT, WS) 4/11/2019 04/11/2019
FY2021 Expense $395,631 From: Fish Accord - Colville Accord Extensions (Colville Tribe) 10/1/2018 10/01/2018
FY2021 Expense $18,518 From: Fish Accord - Colville Accord budget transfer (CCT, WS) 4/11/2019 04/11/2019
FY2021 Expense $12,885 From: Fish Accord - Colville Fish Accord Transfers - 12/10/19 Colville 12/10/2019
FY2022 Expense $400,577 From: Fish Accord - Colville Accord Extensions (Colville Tribe) 10/1/2018 10/01/2018
FY2022 Expense $18,518 From: Fish Accord - Colville Accord budget transfer (CCT, WS) 4/11/2019 04/11/2019

Pending Budget Decision?  No

Actual Project Cost Share

Current Fiscal Year — 2021   DRAFT
Cost Share Partner Total Proposed Contribution Total Confirmed Contribution
Spokane Tribe $15,000
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) $15,000
Total $0 $30,000
Previous Fiscal Years
Fiscal Year Total Contributions % of Budget
2020 $57,325 (Draft) 12% (Draft)
2019 $174,000 (Draft) 31% (Draft)
2018 $65,000 15%
2017 $25,000 8%
2016 $20,000 9%
2015 $27,500 11%
2014 $10,000 6%


The table below contains contracts with the following statuses: Active, Complete, History, Issued.
* "Total Contracted Amount" column includes contracted amount from both capital and expense components of the contract.
Expense Contracts:
Number Contractor Name Title Status Total Contracted Amount Dates
73548 REL 52 SOW Colville Confederated Tribes 2008-115-00 EXP LAKE ROOSEVELT BURBOT POPULATION ASSESSMENT Issued $390,747 3/1/2019 - 2/29/2020
73548 REL 80 SOW Colville Confederated Tribes 2008-115-00 EXP LAKE ROOSEVELT BURBOT POPULATION ASSESSMENT Issued $411,520 3/1/2020 - 2/28/2021
CR-343400 SOW Colville Confederated Tribes 2008-115-00 EXP LAKE ROOSEVELT BURBOT POPULATION ASSESSMENT Pending $427,034 3/1/2021 - 2/28/2022

Annual Progress Reports
Expected (since FY2004):13
On time:8
Status Reports
On time:21
Avg Days Early:4

Earliest Subsequent           Accepted Count of Contract Deliverables
Contract Contract(s) Title Contractor Start End Status Reports Complete Green Yellow Red Total % Green and Complete Canceled
60316 64303, 67819, 71605, 73548 REL 3, 73548 REL 22, 73548 REL 52, 73548 REL 80 2008-115-00 EXP LAKE RSVLT BURBOT POPL ASSMNT Colville Confederated Tribes 03/2013 03/2013 Pending 30 55 8 0 6 69 91.30% 0
Project Totals 30 55 8 0 6 69 91.30% 0

The table content is updated frequently and thus contains more recent information than what was in the original proposal reviewed by ISRP and Council.

Review: Resident Fish, Regional Coordination, and Data Management Category Review

Council Recommendation

Assessment Number: 2008-115-00-NPCC-20120313
Project: 2008-115-00 - Lake Roosevelt Burbot Population Assessment
Review: Resident Fish, Regional Coordination, and Data Management Category Review
Proposal: RESCAT-2008-115-00
Proposal State: Proposal Vetted
Approved Date: 12/31/2011
Recommendation: Under Review
Comments: Implement Objective 1, deliverable 1 only through completion and not beyond FY2017 (Analysis of Fall Walleye Index Netting Bycatch Data). Sponsor to submit revised proposal based on this analysis for ISRP/Council for review and recommendation prior to additional assessment efforts in Lake Roosevelt.
Publish Date: 02/12/2014 BPA Response: Agree
Project should be contracted to implement Objective 1, Deliverable 1, and then submit a new/revised proposal for the additional Deliverables. This will give ISRP, Council, and BPA a chance to review the additional proposed work before commencing it."

Independent Scientific Review Panel Assessment

Assessment Number: 2008-115-00-ISRP-20120215
Project: 2008-115-00 - Lake Roosevelt Burbot Population Assessment
Review: Resident Fish, Regional Coordination, and Data Management Category Review
Proposal Number: RESCAT-2008-115-00
Completed Date: 4/17/2012
Final Round ISRP Date: 4/3/2012
Final Round ISRP Rating: Meets Scientific Review Criteria - In Part
Final Round ISRP Comment:
Qualification #1 - Qualification #1
In Part - The full proposal is not yet justified. Deliverable 1 should proceed. Previous and ongoing burbot data collection in Lake Roosevelt from WDFW Fall Walleye Index Netting (FWIN) should be fully examined and analyzed to determine if it is adequate for evaluating the status of burbot before exerting significant additional sampling effort in the lake. Evaluation based on Deliverable 1 should be used to design field sampling efforts, if needed, beyond existing efforts as a means to meet project goals. The ISRP should review a subsequent revised proposal that builds on results from Deliverable 1. The design should consider other ISRP comments noted below.
First Round ISRP Date: 2/8/2012
First Round ISRP Rating: Meets Scientific Review Criteria - In Part
First Round ISRP Comment:

1. Purpose: Significance to Regional Programs, Technical Background, and Objectives

Significance to Regional Programs: The sponsor refers to several regional programs, including the Spokane Subbasin plan, the Columbia River Basin Research Plan, the Lake Roosevelt Guiding Document, MERR, and the NPPC Fish and Wildlife Program 2009. The declining status of burbot in many southerly portions of their range is a valid concern to resident fish managers. 

Technical Background: The proposal provides decent technical background information on sampling and status of burbot, although additional gray literature might be available on burbot sampling. 

Key information involving the ultimate goal of the proposal was missing until the presentation by the sponsor. During the presentation, the sponsor noted that current harvest levels of burbot are low because fishing gear is now limited to hook and line since set lines were banned in 2006. No sport or subsistence catch data was provided. According to WDFW regulations, the daily bag limit for burbot is currently five fish, but the state also recommends that women of child bearing years and children not consume more than one meal of burbot per week because the fish are contaminated. The sponsor cited a 10-year old WDFW report suggesting the Lake Roosevelt burbot population was “healthy” based on stable electrofishing and catch per effort sampling. Given the reportedly low catch rates of burbot by fishermen and the apparent healthy status of the population, the ultimate goal of this project seems to be whether the population of burbot could withstand a higher harvest rate, possibly through changes in gear regulation. If so, this would be a potential benefit to subsistence and recreational anglers. If changing harvest and gear regulations is an ultimate goal of this effort, then metrics and benchmarks for making this decision should be developed. 

Objectives: The goal is reasonable: a healthy and harvestable burbot population. The objective is reasonable: to monitor and facilitate management to achieve the goal. Specific target levels to define “healthy population” and harvest levels are needed.

2. History: Accomplishments, Results, and Adaptive Management (ISRP Review of Results)

This is a new project so no accomplishments, adaptive management, or results. 

However, the ISRP thought the sponsor should have analyzed the existing Fall Walleye Index Netting data (FWIN) prior to developing this proposal to conduct extensive field effort. Analysis of the existing FWIN data may be sufficient to evaluate status of burbot relative to previous sampling efforts (e.g., Bonar study), and this analysis could be used to inform the sampling design if it was determined that an extensive field effort was needed in addition to ongoing FWIN sampling and creel survey efforts.

3. Project Relationships, Emerging Limiting Factors, and Tailored Questions for Type of Work (hatchery, RME, tagging)

Project Relationships: The proposal described how this project was related to four other projects: Lake Roosevelt Data Collection Project, Kootenai River Resident Fish Mitigation, CCT Chief Joseph Kokanee, and CCT White Sturgeon Enhancement Project. Four BPA projects are listed that this project will coordinate with and share data.

Emerging limiting factors: Climate change, chemical contamination, and potential impacts by non-native predators are discussed.

Tailored questions: The sponsor addressed the PIT tag study to develop population estimates. They plan to tag and release all viable burbot, approximately 2200 fish per year based on assumptions. The sponsor notes that they do not know if the proposed sample size is adequate for estimating burbot population size, but they suggest this is not needed since the project is a pilot study. The ISRP notes that prior to the proposed field effort, the sponsor should examine “what if” scenarios to determine whether tagging of 1100 fish twice per year might be sufficient to detect population trends over time in this very large reservoir. Also, the sponsor should develop criteria for determining whether captured burbot are suitable for tag and release even though previous studies suggested mortality in trammel nets was low. Tagging of burbot that die from capture and tagging operations would significantly bias population estimates if not properly accounted for. The sponsor did describe how they would classify the health of burbot captured in traps. The sponsor notes that a biometrician would be consulted. 

4. Deliverables, Work Elements, Metrics, and Methods

Deliverables are adequate.

The sponsor did a good job describing methods in However, presenting methods on separate web pages makes it difficult to evaluate how the overall sampling program fits together.

Additional information on metrics should have been provided. Age and year class strength are key metrics when assessing population status of fishes, yet it was not clear how age of burbot captured in traps, trammel nets, or gillnets (FWIN) will be assessed and incorporated into the analysis. Burbot are relatively long-lived (up to ~15 years) and could be susceptible to high harvest rates. Each gear type will have its own selectivity for size and age of burbot; how will selectivity be evaluated?

4a. Specific comments on protocols and methods described in

The sponsor did a good job describing methods in Estimates of growth will be based on recaptured burbot, but growth estimates may be few. Were other approaches considered and excluded for estimating growth?

Modified by Dal Marsters on 4/17/2012 2:56:41 PM.
Documentation Links:

Project Relationships: None

Name Role Organization
Peter Lofy Supervisor Bonneville Power Administration
Jason McLellan Project Lead Colville Confederated Tribes
Carlos Matthew Project Manager Bonneville Power Administration
Edward Gresh Env. Compliance Lead Bonneville Power Administration
Randy Friedlander (Inactive) Supervisor Colville Confederated Tribes
Martin Allen Project SME Bonneville Power Administration