Wednesday, November 11, 2009

WDFW Commission Approves Hatchery and Fishery Reform

The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission voted on November 6th to approve WDFWs new hatchery and fishery reform plan, designed to speed recovery of wild salmon and steelhead. The document aims to reform state hatcheries within the recommendations of the HSRG (hatchery scientific review group) and will also focus on developing selective fisheries to remove hatchery fish, reducing their impact on the spawning population, working to implement HSRG broodstock standards by 2015, and integrate hatchery reform plans into watershed specific recovery plans.

The fact that the state has taken steps towards reforming the hatchery system is encouraging. Selective fisheries which minimize impacts on wild stocks while selectively removing as many hatchery fish as possible are crucial in balancing the need for commercial and sport harvest with recovery. HSRG recommendations, while a good first step place too much emphasis on maintaining the status quo by simply shifting hatchery production to an integrated "wild broodstock" system. For a variety of reasons, integrated hatchery programs may actually have impacts similar to those of the more traditional "segregated" programs. Watershed specific recovery plans and the implementation of Wild Salmonid Management Zones are both interesting possibilities with the greatest potential for speeding recovery of wild salmonids throughout the state. The plan provides the framework for considerable improvements in the way wild population recovery is balanced with hatchery supplementation however the true impact will depend largely on how the department ultimately uses the plan and how broadly they are willing to implement WSMZs.

See the plan here:

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