Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Draft Lower Snake Hatchery Review

The Draft Lower Snake Hatchery Review report was released last week complete with a summary of current operations on the system as well as recommendations from the US Fish and Wildlife Service's hatchery review team. While the plan is not perfect it represents one of the most progressive, and complete hatchery reform efforts to date and would institute a number of changes which would be major steps forward for wild salmon and steelhead on the Snake.

Salmon and Steelhead are in big trouble in the Snake system. Coho are extinct, many sub-populations of chinook are extinct with others just barely hanging on, and steelhead are threatened with most wild populations between 400 and 800 adults. With climate change already in happening and a federal government which is willing to fight tooth and nail to keep the Snake River dams, it is important that hatchery impacts be reduced as much as possible to allow for conservation and recovery of wild productivity, abundance and diversity. Abundance and diversity represent natural adaptive capital which will be essential if fish are to hold on over the next century and hatchery reform is a huge part of the puzzle.

Among the highlights are: proposed weirs at the mouths of a number of tributaries which would allow removal of hatchery marked fish from the spawning population, elimination of out of basin outplanting, and honest accounting about the genetic and evolutionary impacts of hatcheries and creative problem solving to reduce their impact and allow real recovery in wild stocks.

see the recommendations state by state at

Public comments will be accepted until January 7th. It is important we write and tell the USFWS we support their efforts and emphasize the importance of hatchery reform for wild fish. A few quick talking points.

-We strongly support terminating outplants of non-native Lyons Ferry Steelhead into Lower Snake tributaries.

-We strongly support building weirs to exclude hatchery fish from spawning in the Touchet, Tucannon, and Walla Walla Rivers.

-Integrated hatchery programs should be implemented cautiously if at all. Clearly stated conservation goals should be established and wild eggs should not be taken to support harvest.

-Given the findings of Araki and Blouin on the Hood River any domestication may have fitness costs and integrated hatchery programs may dramatically reduce productivity of wild stocks.

-All management actions should prioritize conservation and recovery of wild populations with a focus on maintaining and recovering diversity and abundance.

Comments can be mailed to

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Fishery Resources,
Attn: Hatchery Reviews,
911 NE11th Avenue,
Portland, OR 97232,

or sent via email to Don_Campton@fws.gov.

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