Monday, April 30, 2012

Washington Legislature OKs $65 Million of New Hatchery Spending

Former WDFW director Bern Shanks once said that in Washington State as hatchery is what you get "when you cross a military base with a sacred cow." Despite an ever growing body of research demonstrating the detrimental impacts of hatchery programs on wild salmon and steelhead populations, multiple ESA listings, and unprecedented budget cuts by state government, the Washington Legislature last week approved $65 million dollars of new spending on state hatcheries. The increased hatchery expenditure comes even as recovery and enforcement activities around the state are woefully underfunded.

The fact is, the Washington State hatchery system a massive, inefficient way of providing fishing opportunity which directly conflicts with WDFWs mandate to recover wild salmon and steelhead. A recent state auditors report revealed that each blackmouth chinook caught in Puget Sound costs taxpayers almost $800 dollars. In an economic climate when the state legislature has been forced to make massive painful cuts to education, critical social services, and environmental protection programs we should be closing state hatcheries. Instead, not a single hatchery program has been closed during the recession and the state legislature remains convinced that pumping millions of dollars each year into an environmentally destructive hatchery wellfare system is a good use of taxpayer dollars.

WDFW and hatchery advocates have argued that the expenditure is required to implement hatchery reform in the state but the fact is the best way to implement hatchery reform is to close hatcheries entirely. Instead the state has allocated $65 million to costly improvements of hatchery infrastructure that allow them to maintain the status quo. It's time for sea change in the paradigms that guide our fisheries management and the state hatchery system should be the first thing on the chopping block.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Will bravo on this post! I couldn't agree more. It pains me to see how strongly our fishery managers advocate hatchery "reform" and increase of production. I think beyond all other stressors hatcheries will eventually be the nail in the coffin for wild fish if they are to continue on their current trajectory.

This type of behavior by the state makes me want to enter environmental law even if it means sitting behind a desk for 5 years doing paper work. I've done plenty of steelhead fishing over the last ten years

-Andy Simon

Anonymous said...

Will bravo on this post! I couldn't agree more. It pains me to see how strongly our fishery managers advocate hatchery "reform" and increase of production. I think beyond all other stressors hatcheries will eventually be the nail in the coffin for wild fish if they are to continue on their current trajectory.

This type of behavior by the state makes me want to enter environmental law even if it means sitting behind a desk for 5 years doing paper work. I've done plenty of steelhead fishing over the last ten years

-Andy Simon