Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Another Hatchery Wont Save Idaho Sockeye

Redfish lake Sockeye a run which in the 1990s numbered in the single digits have seen a remarkable rise in numbers of the last two years. Indeed, favorable ocean and outmigration conditions coupled with a conservation hatchery program led to excellent returns this year and last. This year over 1200 sockeye swam past lower granite dam.

Now the state wants to build a much larger hatchery program with the goal of releasing 1 million hatchery sockeye smolts annually. While recent returns have been encouraging that we may be able to save sockeye in the Snake River, a production oriented hatchery program would almost certainly spell doom for wild sockeye in the system. Until the Snake River dams come out the state of Idaho could pour 100 million sockeye fry into the system and see nothing more than a diminishing return on an already ludicrous investment. By the states own overly optimistic numbers they expect 5000 to 10,000 sockeye returning annually, meaning they optimistically predict that 1% of smolts will return. However, given the fact that the last two years returns set records for adult abundance since the 1960s construction of the Snake dams it is unlikely survival will consistently be anywhere near that. Indeed since the construction of the Lower Snake dams the average number of recruits per sockeye spawner las been 0.18. Meaning ocean survival is more often less than .5% for outmigrant sockeye in the Snake system.

Not only is the proposed hatchery overly optimistic about the survival of their hatchery releases, with limited numbers of wild spawners in the system, wild fish would be lost within a few generations. Given the evolutionary and monetary costs associated with a hatchery program like this how can it make sense? Certainly such a hatchery program would be in violation of the ESA considering the number of hatchery spawners that would inevitably end up spawning in the wild. Paying hundreds of dollars of government money for each hatchery fish so they can return and expedite the extinction of wild Redfish Lake Sockeye is the last thing we need to be doing. When will our fisheries managers, government agencies and public understand...removing the Lower Snake dams, IS the cost effective solution in salmon recovery? A one time removal cost coupled with investments in new, rapid rail shipping in the Columbia Basin. Contact your representatives today and tell them to support H.R. 3503

an article in the Columbia Basin Bulletin about the proposed sockeye program


an article about the new Obama BiOp and why the Nez Perce, State of Oregon and Earthjustice say that by failing to propose dam removal as a primary option they have failed Snake River Salmon.


Redden considers new 2008 BiOp with an independed panel of scientists


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