Willamette Hatchery Plans Fall Short
This spring, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) released a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for hatchery operations in the Willamette basin. These Hatchery Genetic Management Plans (HGMPs) are long overdue and are required to meet the mandates of Endangered Species Act and the associated 2008 Willamette Biological Opinion. The lack of approved HGMPs is one of the claims made within our pending lawsuit against NMFS and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Native Fish Society staff and River Stewards remain actively engaged in ongoing actions around the basin while we continue to pursue resolution of our lawsuit. To that end, we provided comments in response to the DEIS this May detailing the many deleterious impacts that hatchery operations impose on wild fish populations and their long-term recovery. Included in our comments were detailed narratives from NFS Willamette River Stewards across the basin. These narratives detail the explicit impacts of hatcheries that River Stewards are seeing in their own homewaters of the McKenzie, Yamill, North Santiam, and Molalla Rivers.
As stated in our comments, "Despite a century and a half of use, fish hatcheries remain an unproven method to sustain the viability and biodiversity of native fish population, preserve the culture of commercial and recreational fishing, and uphold treaty obligations and subsistence fishing for indigenous peoples and sovereign nations." It's time to see beyond the hatchery status-quo for the Willamette. Our fish and our communities depend on it.