Fish Capture and Relocation

For projects that require dewatering or other work in suitable habitat for the covered fish species (as identified in FISH-2), if fish capture and relocation would be the most protective approach to managing fish during construction, then a fish capture and relocation plan will be developed and submitted to the appropriate USFWS Office for approval as part of the ESA Section 7(a)(2) Review Form submittal. The plan will describe the biologist’s qualifications, capture methods, capture and relocation work areas, and reporting requirements, including details in the list below. If capture and relocation is not feasible or would not be the most protective approach to managing fish in the work area (e.g., if dewatering is not needed or appropriate; or if fish are in a large, unconfined waterbody), other methods to protect covered fish species (e.g., timing restrictions around season and tide, or bubble curtains) should be detailed in a plan and submitted to USFWS for approval. It is recommended that the capture and relocation plan be submitted with the ESA Section 7(a)(2) Review Form to avoid delays.

a. This plan will incorporate the latest USFWS and NMFS guidance relating to the capture and relocation of fish, as applicable.

b. Procedures for decontamination of any equipment used in the capture and relocation of fish will be identified.

c. Prior to the implementation of capture and relocation activities, relocation (or release) sites will be identified by the USFWS-Approved Biologist, based on proximity, access, habitat suitability, and potential to be affected by construction-related disturbance. Suitable habitat for relocation sites will be in the same watershed/subwatershed basin where fish were originally captured. One or more of the following methods will be used to capture protected fish species: electrofishing, dip net, seine, throw net, minnow trap, and hand.

d. Fish relocation will only be conducted (or led) by a USFWS-Approved Biologist. If a USFWS-Approved Biologist is needed, the Project Proponent will submit the biologist’s qualifications to the appropriate USFWS Office for approval 30 days prior to project construction. The USFWS-Approved Biologist will have knowledge and experience in fish biology and ecology; fish/habitat relationships; biological monitoring; handling, collecting, and relocating fish; or other relevant experience.

e. Residual surface water associated with the diverted or dewatered habitat will be monitored or sampled for the presence of fish by a USFWS-Approved Biologist as soon as the waters are isolated. If a Covered Species of fish is observed in the isolated habitat, they will be immediately captured and relocated to the suitable habitat outside of the construction area, but in the same water basin, by the USFWS-Approved Biologist, in accordance with the approved fish capture and relocation plan.

f. The USFWS-Approved Biologist will relocate any stranded covered fish species to an appropriate place, depending on the life stage of the fish and consistent with the USFWSApproved rescue and relocation plan.

g. The USFWS-Approved Biologist will note the number of individuals observed in the affected area, the number of individuals relocated, the approximate size of individuals, the location of capture and release, any instances of injury or mortality, and the date and time of the collection and relocation. This information will be reported to the appropriate USFWS Office within 7 days of completion of the fish capture and relocation effort.