Capture and Relocation of Steelhead Guidelines for a Qualified Biologist

A qualified fisheries biologist shall perform all seining, electrofishing, and fish relocation activities. The qualified fisheries biologist shall capture and relocate steelhead prior to construction of the water diversion structures (e.g. cofferdams). The qualified fisheries biologist shall note the number of steelhead observed in the affected area, the number of steelhead relocated, and the date and time of collection and relocation. The qualified fisheries biologist shall have a minimum of three years of field experience in the identification and capture of salmonids, including juvenile salmonids. The qualified biologist will adhere to the following requirements for capture and transport of steelhead:
a. Determine the most efficient means for capturing fish. Complex stream habitat generally requires the use of electrofishing equipment, whereas in outlet pools, fish may be concentrated by pumping down the pool and then seining or dipnetting fish.
b. Notify NMFS one week prior to capture and relocation of steelhead to provide NMFS staff an opportunity to attend (call Anthony Spina at (562) 980-4045 or via email at Anthony.spina@noaa.gov).
c. Initial fish relocation efforts will be conducted several days prior to the start of construction. This provides the fisheries biologist an opportunity to return to the work area and perform additional electrofishing passes immediately prior to construction. In many instances, additional fish will be captured that eluded the previous day’s efforts.
d. At project sites with high summer water temperatures, perform relocation activities during morning periods.
e. Prior to capturing fish, determine the most appropriate release location(s). Consider the following when selecting release site(s):
– Similar water temperature as capture location
– Ample habitat for captured fish
– Low likelihood of fish reentering work site or becoming impinged on exclusion net or screen.
f. Periodically measure air and water temperatures and monitor fish health. Temperatures will be measured at the head of riffle tail of pool interface. Cease activities if health of fish is compromised owing to high water temperatures, or if mortality exceeds three percent of captured steelhead.