Summary (as letter from IEAB to Chairman Cassidy)
I am pleased to provide the Independent Economic Analysis Board's Phase I study of hatchery cost effectiveness. As you will recall, our main objective was to establish a basis for assessing the cost-effectiveness for artificial production projects proposed to the Council. To accomplish this, we developed an analytical framework for the economic cost assessment, held a workshop with hatchery program managers (August 2001), collected and compiled budget cost information from eight projects, and selected three hatchery performance measures as indicators of effectiveness: fish released, adult returns, and adults harvested. In the process of collecting and interpreting this data we corresponded with a number of hatchery program personnel from the States of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Grant County Public Utility District, and the Yakima and Nez Perce tribes.
Overall, we found that the cost data for such an analysis were reasonably well documented and available. Some performance data (fish released, fish returned, and fish harvested) were also available, with the fish release data being the most complete. The adult return/harvest rates are estimated from tag release-return data, which are not available for all stocks released. Despite the gaps in hatchery return estimates, we are optimistic that an expanded version of this study could provide a reasonable basis for cost-effectiveness analysis of artificial production proposals. Based on the information assembled to date, the costs per release varied among the eight projects from $0.14 for Spring Creek hatchery fall chinook to $2.60 for Nez Perce spring and fall chinook. The costs per returning adult varied from $12 for Priest Rapids fall chinook to $1,615 for Winthrop hatchery spring chinook to $3,707 for Nez Perce hatchery chinook. The costs per adult fish harvested varied from $14 for Clatsop County Economic Development Council coho releases in Youngs Bay, to $23 for Priest Rapids fall chinook, to $68,031 for Entiat hatchery spring chinook. We find that the costs per harvested fish are strongly influenced by specific survival rate factors and harvest patterns. These relationships can provide useful guidance in assessing the cost-effectiveness of both current hatchery operations and proposals for new projects.
The major remaining gap concerns performance measures for restoration or supplementation hatcheries, which aim to boost the rebuilding rate for naturally-spawning fish stocks that have under-utilized spawning habitat. We would need to consult further with the APAC and hatchery managers in order to establish appropriate performance criteria for such projects.
We propose that the Council consider a Phase II of this analysis which would (a) incorporate a wider range of projects in order to support a statistical analysis of cost-effectiveness, (b) develop an effectiveness measure for restoration hatcheries, and provide some application of the resulting cost-effectiveness assessment to specific NPPC sponsored projects. The cost would be around $150,000 and would involve an outside research organization under guidance and review of the IEAB.
Daniel D. Huppert
Chair, Independent Economic Analysis Board