Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Okanagan Sockeye Thriving Without Hatcheries

In a summer of banner sockeye returns, the Okanagan River which straddles the US-Canadian border in North Central Washington is expected to see record returns of more than 400,000 sockeye. Sockeye returning to the Okanagan migrate more than 500 miles from the ocean, passing 9 mainstem Columbia River dams on the way to their spawning grounds.

The Okanagan run is also unique in another way, there is no hatchery production in the Okanagan basin. Instead co-managers with the Colville Nation and WDFW have focused on habitat improvements. This work, coupled with court mandated flow improvements in the Columbia and favorable ocean conditions have led to dramatic increases in the productivity and abundance of Sockeye in the Okanagan and should provide a template for other recovery efforts in the Columbia system where millions of dollars are spent each year funding hatchery programs that ultimately undermine the productivity of listed wild stocks in the basin. 

More information in the Bellingham Herald: 

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