Friday, June 12, 2009

Hatchery Fish likely contributing to declining wild populations

In yet another piece of scientific literature condemning the practice of widespread hatchery supplementation, Oregon State Researchers Hitoshi Araki and Michael Blouin recently published their second paper exploring the effects of domestication on fitness in wild spawning steelhead. Their study showed that a fish born in the wild from two hatchery spawned parents had only 37 perecent of the reproductive success of truly wild fish and the offspring of one hatchery and one wild fish have only 87 percent of the reproductive success.

While many papers have explored and documented declining fitness within domesticated populations, it has rarely been so accurately quantified. Considering the large declines in fitness associated with the hatchery environment it seems likely that many of our current hatcheries, including wild broodstock programs are counterproductive and may severely limit the productivity of wild populations. Given these facts as well as the equally negative ecological effects of hatchery programs we believe that hatchery programs in areas which could still support strong wild populations should be curtailed. See coverage of the article in science daily.

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