Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Two Lawsuits That Could Reshape the Landscape on Hatchery Impacts

Over the last twenty years there has been a growing scientific consensus that hatchery supplementation undermines the productivity and diversity of wild salmon and steelhead populations. Hatcheries, once viewed as a panacea for salmon and steelhead recovery and enhancement of fishing opportunities are now understood to be an impediment to the recovery of threatened wild stocks throughout our region. Despite our growing understanding that large scale hatchery supplementation is fundamentally incompatible with healthy wild populations of fish, inertia at state and federal agencies and a lack of political will to substantively change hatchery practices has slowed progress.

Now two separate lawsuits challenging the legality of hatchery programs on the Sandy and Elwha Rivers under the Endangered Species Act are forcing the issue. Both watersheds have benefited from multi-million dollar dam removal and restoration efforts, however industrial scale hatchery supplementation and the robbing of wild fish to create broodstock for harvest continue to jeopardize the persistence of ESA listed steelhead and chinook as well as other species of salmon. Legal battles like these invariably take their time proceeding through the courts, but the reality is, these types of fights are a necessary part of changing the conversation surrounding hatcheries.

More information on the Elwha Lawsuit from the Wild Fish Conservancy's website:

More on the Native Fish Society's efforts in Oregon:

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