Hatchery Reform: minimizing impacts of hatchery fish on wild fish populations;
The combined effect of hatcheries, harvest and habitat degradation has brought previously healthy runs of salmon and steelhead perilously near to extinction. For their part, hatcheries have become the cash cow for fish and wildlife agencies and have become the politically acceptable way to supply salmon for harvest while degrading watersheds. Hatcheries have become the latest in a long line of threats (think, poor logging practices, dams) to native fish.
Hatcheries are funded mainly with federal (that is, taxpayer’s) dollars and by private utilities (taxpaying rate payers) mitigating hydro dam construction. Without this funding there would be very few hatchery programs.
Perhaps that isn’t such a bad idea when one considers the growing and overwhelming body of peer-reviewed science which inarguably now concludes hatcheries are deleterious to and contribute to the decline of wild, native salmonids. To read excerpts from the science click here.
Hatcheries have been politically safe and funding assured. Today, however, the realization that hatcheries do not solve problems faced by ESA-listed salmonids is beginning to seep into the public’s consciousness and it is quickly ending as an easy political default. When it costs thousands of dollars to produce a single adult salmon for harvest, even politicians are noticing.