Friday, June 17, 2011

Hatcheries Not a Viable Recovery Tool

An excellent article out today in the Columbia basin bulletin highlights the work of an Independent Science Review Panel assigned to study the efficacy of hatchery programs in recovery efforts on the Lower Snake. Comparing the performance of wild spring chinook stocks in both supplemented and unsupplemented areas before and after hatchery releases began the ISRP concluded that hatcheries are not a viable tool for rebuilding wild populations.

Eric Loudenslager, lead author of the ISRP told the an audience at the Northwest Power and Conservation Council that while hatcheries may stave off exctinction, "there was no evidence presented that supplementation was increasing the abundance of natural origin fish." In fact, when compared to 9 unsupplemented sites Spring Chinook in the Imnaha River showed a decreasing trend.

While these findings are not surprising, they add to the substantial body of information suggesting that hatchery supplementation is having an adverse effect on wild populations in the Columbia and elsewhere. The federal government recently issued a draft EIS for changes in the implementation of Mitchell act hatchery mitigation money on the Columbia and Snake and the plan included a number excellent proposals including reducing the number of hatchery fish released in some basins, building weirs at the mouths of some rivers to remove hatchery spawners and ending the release of out of basin hatchery fish.

More information in the Columbia Basin Bulletin:

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