Thursday, October 22, 2009

WDFW Commission meeting to Discuss Hatchery Reform

The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission will be meeting on Friday November 6th at 8:30AM to discuss the adoption of the most recent iteration of WDFWs Hatchery and Fishery Reform Policy. While it is a significant step forward from the day of Maximum Sustained Yield and the uniform outplanting of hatchery fish in every piece of flowing water in the state, it comes up short in a number of areas. First, the new document like the HSRG assumes that wild broodstock programs are better for wild populations than segregated. Recent work by Hitoshi Araki and Michael Blouin at Oregon State has shown that within one generation of domestication fitness declines substantially, meaning that even though broodstock fish look like wild they make wild populations less productive. Furthermore broodstock fish are managed as "integrated" meaning the state wants them to spawn with wild fish so their net impact could actually be significantly greater than an early timed segregated hatchery stock. The document also fails to address the ecological impacts of hatcheries at all. While genetic effects are well documented, ecological impacts from disease to competition are likely even greater. The curret hatchery reform policy doesnt make a single mention of this issue, and therefore completely fails to address the overall impact of hatcheries on our wild stocks. Lastly, while the creation of Wild Steelhead Management Zones is discussed the deparment intends to designate species specific management zones. We need watersheds set aside from hatchery supplementation all species to really see a positive effect.

See the draft policy here:

http://wdfw.wa.gov/commission/meetings/2009/11/draft5_hatchery_reform_policy_sept%2012-2009.pdf

Talking Points:
1.)The current plan does not in any way address the major ecological effects of hatchery programs. This is particularly critical in Puget Sound where millions of hatchery released smolts are interacting with listed Chinook and Steelhead smolts.

2.) The plan seems to assume that wild broodstock hatcheries are superior, recent research turns this assumption on its head. Wild broodstock programs may actually be worse for wild fish by increasing the liklihood that hatchery fish will spawn with wild.

3.)Currently the state plans to designate Wild Salmonid Management Zones by individual species. We need whole system Wild Salmonid Management Zones to protect the ecological and evolutionary integrity of all salmonid species within a system. Salmon species do not exist in isolation of each other and hatchery impacts between species are definitely a problem.

We had hoped to turn people out for this but in reviewing the meeting schedule there wont be an opportunity for comments meaning it might not make alot of sense to drive down to Olympia.

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