Tuesday, September 11, 2012

WDFW Issues Draft Hatchery Plans for Lower Columbia, Comments Due October 5th

Last week, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife issued draft Hatchery Genetic Management Plans (HGMPs) for hatchery operations on the Lower Columbia. The plans outline WDFW's intended hatchery activities that may impact ESA listed salmon and steelhead stocks in the Lower Columbia region. While it may seem like run of the mill bureaucratic process, HGMPS are intended to provide assurance to the Federal Government (NOAA) that WDFWs hatchery operations will not jeopardize wild populations and as such HGMPs should be held to the highest biological standards.

Among the proposals that don't pass the sniff test on the Lower Columbia are continued releases of non-native hatchery fish into the Coweeman, South Fork Toutle, and East Fork Lewis. Each of these systems lack collection facilities for returning hatchery fish meaning that any fish that go unharvested in sport fisheries spawn in the wild, reducing the productivity, diversity, and long term viability of threatened wild steelhead in the Lower Columbia. Hatchery releases in watersheds without collection facilities are supposed to be prohibited by the Statewide Steelhead Management Plan, and have been eliminated in Puget Sound following the listing of steelhead under the ESA. Unfortunately on the Lower Columbia, the epicenter of Washington's crazed hatchery addiction, similar measures have not been taken despite the ESA listing.

The state's own data suggest that large numbers of hatchery fish are likely spawning in the wild, and recent estimates have suggested that as many as 70% of spawning steelhead in the East Fork are of hatchery origin.

WDFW is accepting comments on the draft HGMPs until October 5th at 5PM. Please take a few minutes to tell the state to discontinue hatchery outplanting in the Coweeman, SF Toutle, and EF Lewis to protect ESA listed wild fish. 

Comments can be sent via email to


OR mailed to WDFW at

Hatcheries Division
600 Capital Way N.
Olympia, WA 98501

Read all the Lower Columbia HGMPs here:


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