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Thread: Hatcheries, One more thing to worry about.

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    Default Hatcheries, One more thing to worry about.

    More proof that hatcheries aren't the solution. They are part of the problem.

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    There is not one study or paper that shows hatchery fish have ever helped in the recovery of a wild run of salmon.

    Sure we can "enhance" total numbers of returning fish, but that's merely an artifact of swamping naturally produced fish with those mass-produced in a concrete tank. That's NOT recovery!

    Hatchery fish really only work where they have little to no impact on wild populations. Everything else is a compromise. Where the potential for significant wild impact exists, every effort should be made to segregate populations of hatchery fish from wild fish.... be it spatial (physical location) or temporal (run-timing). Upon their return, hatchery fish (beyond those needed for broodstock) should be maximally harvested in selective fisheries and/or captured in appropriate collection facilities so that virtually NONE escape to the gravel. The ONLY good returning hatchery fish is a DEAD hatchery fish!

    As for my boat motto.... ALL hatchery fish MUST die!
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    fnp,

    Lets say you were king for a day.. and you had the opportunity to kill all the hatchery fish in Wa/Or/CA. Would you?

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    Default If I were the Almighty Fish Czar for a day....

    There is only one defensible rationale for salmon hatcheries... to prop up harvest where wild stocks have declined to a point that they can no longer be commercially exploited at the level of fishing power being thrown at them. Since mankind seems unwilling to curb its appetite to HARVEST HARVEST HARVEST hatcheries have been the "quick fix" for our lack of discipline and self-restraint.

    Given that the principal role of hatcheries is to support harvest.... beyond broodstock needs, yes, ALL hatchery fish MUST die.

    Those that can't be harvested by the fleets should be systematically removed at appropriate collection facilities as they ascend their rivers of origin. Any existing hatchery without the capability to capture virtually all of its returning adults should be retrofitted to do so, or be decommissioned. Any new hatchery put into operation must be made to meet this minimum standard prior to approval
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    I'd only disagree a little bit FnP. The original purpose of the hatcheries in PWS was to enhance runs devastated by the Good Friday earthquake in 64. But when big money entered the picture, things went downhill fast. Kodiak went a different direction whith low wild stocks. ENHANCEMENT I respect them for that. The only hatchery in the Kodiak area is the Kitoi Bay hatchery on Afognak and it appears there is no push to change that. The Frazer Lake/ Dog Salmon creek (man made) run is an example and so is the fertilizing of Karluk Lake to create a better rearing area for fingerlings.

    I can see a scenario of using hatcheries as a means of enhancing a natural run but only under strict conditions and for short time frames. Then the wild fish are back on their own. One of the conditions would be to use only fish with genetics from the stream to be enhanced. In the case of a system that is started from scratch as the Frazier Lake run was, that isn't possible of course so you use fish in the general area. Say if Esther lake had a fish ladder put in and a sockeye run was created there, Coghill or possibly Eshamey Stock fish would be used. Or possibly fish from the small Esther passage run. That mimics nature the best. Straying is part of how nature stocked systems as they became ice free after the last ice age. Then you let natural selection do the rest.
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    Where wild stocks are healthy, care should be taken to preserve their habitat and avoid overharvesting them. Stewardship and self-restraint are the only ingredients necessary for sustaining abundance. Hatcheries have no role where wild stocks are healthy or can be naturally recovered. The hatchery option should be DEAD last.

    Hatcheries and recovery? Hatcheries and starting new runs from scratch?

    Gotta agree with twodux that hatch supplementation of wild populations, if deemed necessary, should be temporary and short term.

    The true measure of how successful a "recovery" hatchery program is how quickly the hatchery works its way out of a job. In other words the hatchery is only successful when it is no longer needed. There must be a clearly defined end-game where the hatchery no longer has a role to play.

    Harvest hatcheries are just the opposite. They are there to mass produce a harvestable free-swimming commodity.... a boat load of 20 to 100 dollar bills with fins.... to fuel lucrative commercial and sport fisheries. They are expensive, they are labor intensive, and the effort and money must be poured into a bottomless pit with no end in order to perpetuate and sustain a state of artificial abundance... forever and ever...amen. Not demonizing it, just calling a spade a spade. Simply put, these hatcheries should be run in strictly put/take fashion, with emphasis on the "take" side to realize maximum benefit from the "put" side.

    Harvest hatcheries are a whole lot like other entitlement programs like Social Security, Medicare, and welfare. Just like these folks expecting a regularly scheduled check to be delivered, constituents in the fish world feel a sense of entitlement to keep their fisheries fueled with a steady delivery of artificially propagated mass-produced fish to HARVEST HARVEST HARVEST.

    But here's the rub. Hatcheries can really serve only one purpose at a time on any given river ... either harvest or recovery, but NOT both. Most people have a inexplicable disconnect with these mutually exclusive roles/objectives. Hatchery and harvest reform is long overdue. Major changes in hatchery operations/procedures dove-tailed with selective fishing to put disproportionately heavy exploitation on harvest hatchery stocks should be the goal.
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    I might add FnP, that in Washington and Oregon, hatcheries have another reason for being. At least from a political perspective. Most of the fishing public (and I include both sport and commercial users), want to see fish. They really don't care how they get there. This is part of the problem. The hatcheries produce a mass of fish and the public says "Problem, what problem"? It takes the heat off the politicians to work towards real cures to the ills that face the wild stock such as dams, runoff, poor logging practices, polution etc etc. Hatcheries are an easy fix for them. "You want fish? Here are fish. " Hard to argue with that logic, except that that logic is what has led to where the wild stocks are now. If the EPA wanted to enforce the endangered species act as far as wild salmon stocks are concerned the same way they enforce it with say seas mammals, it would open some eyes. Lots of large industries would be crying for mercy. But the fishing industry isn't spared the pain that comes with doing what it takes to help the seals and sea lions and sea otters to recover. It should be the same for loggers, electrical producers, aluminum producers, builders who build in spawning areas, the shipping industry, farmers, etc. They should all be held to the same degree of accountability the fishing industry is.
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    I believe the reason for a lot of the hatcheries in California is to make up for the fish lost due to the construction of dams which took the spawning grounds away from the wild fish.

    Robert

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    It sounds like the hatcheries in Washington/Oregon are forming the basis of opinion in this thread. I think a lot of the statements in the comments here are based on those hatcheries, as they don't seem to apply to many Alaskan Hatcheries. For example, the money pit/social security comparisons just don't seem to apply to the hatcheries in SE, whose operations are paid for by selling their excess returning fish to processors. The chum and pink hatcheries in SE and PWS come to mind. It seems that 'straying' has far less impact here vs a major river system inland in the Pacific NW.

    Besides, while protecting habitat and all that sounds like a wonderful solution, the reality is that it just ain't happening in many parts of the country. For the most part, the dams and urban sprawl aren't going away. Counting on habitat protection in the lower '48 over hatcheries sounds like a skittles and rainbows strategy to me.

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    Quote Originally Posted by twodux View Post
    I might add FnP, that in Washington and Oregon, hatcheries have another reason for being. At least from a political perspective. Most of the fishing public (and I include both sport and commercial users), want to see fish. They really don't care how they get there. This is part of the problem. The hatcheries produce a mass of fish and the public says "Problem, what problem"? It takes the heat off the politicians to work towards real cures to the ills that face the wild stock such as dams, runoff, poor logging practices, polution etc etc. Hatcheries are an easy fix for them. "You want fish? Here are fish. " Hard to argue with that logic, except that that logic is what has led to where the wild stocks are now. If the EPA wanted to enforce the endangered species act as far as wild salmon stocks are concerned the same way they enforce it with say seas mammals, it would open some eyes. Lots of large industries would be crying for mercy. But the fishing industry isn't spared the pain that comes with doing what it takes to help the seals and sea lions and sea otters to recover. It should be the same for loggers, electrical producers, aluminum producers, builders who build in spawning areas, the shipping industry, farmers, etc. They should all be held to the same degree of accountability the fishing industry is.
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    One more point about using hatcheries to fool people into thinking there isn't a problem. What happens when the economy shrinks up and the State is faced with budget shortages? Hatcheries start getting cut and that is already happening her in Washington. Now if they take care of habitat issues instead of just throwing money at hatcheries, that will be a good thing.

    AKJOB, the hatcheries here in Washington also sell their excess fish. My grandfather used to have the contract to buy most of the surplus fish at many of the hatcheries here in Washington. There were three grades, human grade (brights), smokehouse grade (darks) and Kitty Kat Cat Food grade (unfit for human consumption) Originally, we'd just buy the whole carcass, but then when the egg (caviar) market got hot, the State got smart and sold the eggs and the carcasses separately. I used to drive truck for Grandpa and got to watch the whole process at harvest time at the hatcheries. They'd herd the salmon with gates in the fish runs into holding ponds and when they were ready to process, they'd herd them into an elevator that would lift them to the processing floor. There, they'd get dumped into a vat of what I called salmon LSD. It had a drug in it that would paralyze the fish, but wouldn't kill them. As soon as they'd hit the water, they'd go crazy, jumping in the air, bouncing off the walls, then all of a sudden, they'd all stop. Then they were washed onto a conveyor belt through the processing area. The reason they paralyzed them was they needed them to be alive when they harvested the eggs for brood stock. But they didn't want to be fighting them on the belt or have them wriggling when they went to slice their bellies open. If they were "ripe, the eggs went in one bucket and a few of the males were milked for milt to fertilize the eggs. If the eggs were still in skeins they went in the roe buckets. And after they had their brood eggs, then the rest of the loose eggs went into other buckets to be sold to companies such as Atlas Eggs that make single egg fish baits. When I was young, the Atlas Egg man would bring us kids a couple cases of various bait eggs at the end of the year for a Christmas present. Besides stripping the eggs, they would also cut the noses off the salmon that were wire coded. They had a scanner the fish would go through that would beep when a wired fish went through and those would get their noses lopped.
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    Quote Originally Posted by twodux View Post
    I might add FnP, that in Washington and Oregon, hatcheries have another reason for being. At least from a political perspective. Most of the fishing public (and I include both sport and commercial users), want to see fish. They really don't care how they get there. This is part of the problem. The hatcheries produce a mass of fish and the public says "Problem, what problem"? It takes the heat off the politicians to work towards real cures to the ills that face the wild stock such as dams, runoff, poor logging practices, polution etc etc. Hatcheries are an easy fix for them. "You want fish? Here are fish. " Hard to argue with that logic, except that that logic is what has led to where the wild stocks are now. If the EPA wanted to enforce the endangered species act as far as wild salmon stocks are concerned the same way they enforce it with say seas mammals, it would open some eyes. Lots of large industries would be crying for mercy. But the fishing industry isn't spared the pain that comes with doing what it takes to help the seals and sea lions and sea otters to recover. It should be the same for loggers, electrical producers, aluminum producers, builders who build in spawning areas, the shipping industry, farmers, etc. They should all be held to the same degree of accountability the fishing industry is.
    Exceptionally well stated, one of your best posts twodux!

    Quote Originally Posted by fishNphysician View Post
    Most people have a inexplicable disconnect with these mutually exclusive roles/objectives.
    I agree with you fishNphysician, with the exception of this one sentence. I don't mean to sound nitpicky, I just think this is an important point that often gets overlooked. There's really nothing inexplicable about greed. While the sheer scale of human arrogance might be mind-blowing, the disconnect isn't inexplicable. Whether acknowledged or not, it's often intentional, driven mostly by greed. In a culture driven by despair and scarcity, shortsightedness is used as a political tactic. Entitlement is certainly involved, but that's a symptom, the underlying cause of which is greed.
    Inspiration is simply the momentary cessation of stupidity.

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    Saraphina nailed it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by iofthetaiga View Post
    Saraphina nailed it.
    She did.

    Those politicians are there to head things off for industry. Pacify 'em with hatcheries, then stir 'em up and get 'em fighting between user groups so they don't go after the real causes of poor salmon runs. They do it for greed, campaign donations and such, and they use greed to deflect blame from the real culprits. Sportsmen and commercial should be on the same side in this battle.

    It's definitely all about greed.
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    I struggle with the issue of hatcheries and harvest, particularly given the affect on wild stocks. Many hatcheries here in Washington and Oregon where built to provide "mitigation" for habitat lost to water resource development (i.e., Federal and non-Federal dams). When those dams were built, the issue/question for fishery managers was "We are building a dam here, do you want a hatchery? Yes or no?" Take note, the question was NOT "Do you want us to build a dam?". The dam was going to be built. The only question was whether a hatchery was going to be built as compensation for the inevitable loss of salmon. I can't blame the fishery managers for agreeing on a hatchery. In fact, it's still going on today. The Colville Tribe is building a brand new hatchery at the Chief Joseph dam, near their reservation (with BPA $$'s).

    Are these folks being greedy? Or are they simply asking that the folks who built the dams provide some minimal compensation for the damages they have incurred? I agree that hatcheries are not an ideal solution. In fact, the more we learn, the more we realize how inadequate they really are. But what's the alternative? How do we replace the salmon productivity lost to the dams. For example, John Day Dam on the mainstem Columbia River flooded 75 miles of prime spawning habitat for upriver brights. How do we replace the lost productivity? I'm not real happy with hatchery produced fish, but in the absence of a viable alternative, what choice is there? Dam breaching would be nice, but I don't see that happening anytime soon.

    So, for those folks who really don't like hatchery fish, how to we replace the lost productivity? That's an honest question. We could use an honest answer.

    Also, since this is a forum for Alaska issues, those upriver brights from the Columbia River are a major part of the Chinook harvest in SE Alaska and other places in the Great Land. So whatever happens on the Columbia River, affects commercial and recreational fishing throughout BC, SE AK, and to some degree SC AK.

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    I think the key thing to remember about "mitigation" is that the feds/BPA/power companies were never directly interested in replacing the lost fish production in the river/trib being dammed as much as they were interested in the forgone harvest ($$) the loss of those fish might represent. Without the commercial value attached to those fish, there would be ZERO incentive/pressure to compensate for the lost production. It was never about losing the fish... only the loss of commercial/industrial revenue that could be generated from the fish.

    So yes, here in the PNW, we are stuck with mitigation harvest hatcheries... forever and ever, amen... or at least as long as the budgets for them remain intact. They have essentially become an entitlement that benefits not only local recreational and commercial fishermen, but as cohoangler astutely posted, those in distant northern intercept fisheries of BC and AK as well. They ALL depend on those "factory fish" to sustain the fisheries they have grown accustomed. But it comes at tremendous cost. The billions now spent on artificially propagating smolts and getting them downriver now tell the real tale of just how "cheap" that hydropower really was. The way I see it, we will being paying FOREVER!

    Alaska should heed the mistakes of the past. The choices made in the Lower 48 were an intentional trade-off of the immeasurable natural wealth in complex ecosystems for the industrial wealth of human "progress" and convenience. The PNW is still paying for the bad choices of the past. Alaska has the opportunity to choose a different course. Let's hope your leaders and policy-makers in natural resources choose wisely.
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    Quote Originally Posted by fishNphysician View Post
    I think the key thing to remember about "mitigation" is that the feds/BPA/power companies were never directly interested in replacing the lost fish production in the river/trib being dammed as much as they were interested in the forgone harvest ($$) the loss of those fish might represent. Without the commercial value attached to those fish, there would be ZERO incentive/pressure to compensate for the lost production. It was never about losing the fish... only the loss of commercial/industrial revenue that could be generated from the fish.

    So yes, here in the PNW, we are stuck with mitigation harvest hatcheries... forever and ever, amen... or at least as long as the budgets for them remain intact. They have essentially become an entitlement that benefits not only local recreational and commercial fishermen, but as cohoangler astutely posted, those in distant northern intercept fisheries of BC and AK as well. They ALL depend on those "factory fish" to sustain the fisheries they have grown accustomed. But it comes at tremendous cost. The billions now spent on artificially propagating smolts and getting them downriver now tell the real tale of just how "cheap" that hydropower really was. The way I see it, we will being paying FOREVER!

    Alaska should heed the mistakes of the past. The choices made in the Lower 48 were an intentional trade-off of the immeasurable natural wealth in complex ecosystems for the industrial wealth of human "progress" and convenience. The PNW is still paying for the bad choices of the past. Alaska has the opportunity to choose a different course. Let's hope your leaders and policy-makers in natural resources choose wisely.
    The following bears repeating. I take the liberty to edit two words slightly. Thanks Doc.

    Alaska should heed the mistakes of the past. The choices made in the Lower 48 were an intentional trade-off of the immeasurable natural wealth in complex ecosystems for the industrial wealth of human "progress" and convenience. The PNW is still paying for the bad choices of the past. Alaska has the opportunity to choose a different course. Let's demand our leaders and policy-makers in natural resources choose wisely.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cohoangler View Post
    I struggle with the issue of hatcheries and harvest, particularly given the affect on wild stocks. Many hatcheries here in Washington and Oregon where built to provide "mitigation" for habitat lost to water resource development (i.e., Federal and non-Federal dams).
    The hatcheries in Washington are also mitigating bad forestry practices in Washington in my opinion. The Naselle, The Nemah, Trap Creek off The Willapa, The Satsop, and Stevens Creek off the Humptulips Hatcheries are all on Rivers that should have tremendous natural runs. There are no dams that need "mitigating". But in my opinion, the common denominator in all these streams is logging. I'm not against logging. I'm just against hebicide induced monoculture and mud filled and sun warmed streams. That is what we have because it has been deemed the most efficient way to raise and log trees. Instead of holding the timber owners responsible for healthy streams, we have put and take hatcheries.
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    Wow, probably need to do some fact checking above. I went to college in Sitka at Sheldon Jackson, studying aquaculture and working at a 30 million fish a year hatchery, then Grays Harbor College, studying fisheries and aquaculture, in your hometown, Aberdeen, FNP, then went commercial fishing for salmon in the summer for 10 years. (crabbing the Bering in the winter) the hatcheries in Alaska are nothing like the hatcheries of Washington. The hatcheries up here are funded primarily by commercial fisherman. 3% tax on all harvest. 97% of the power troll caught silvers in South East Alaska are hatchery fish, that we, as commercail fisherman, paid for. Dipac, in Juneau puts out 300 million fish a year! I've been to almost every hatchery on the coast of Washington and most in Alaska. Hatcheries in Washington have always been about helping troubled rivers, and it has not worked well in most cases, but there are good stories too. As someone who relied on commercial fishing a good part of my early work life, even then, I find it hard to resist development, such as hydro in Washington, or hydro anywhere to save a single stream of fish. What's the trade off to hydro power? Coal? Fuel? Nuclear?

    Just scrolling back up, to see someone say all hatchery fish must die, is a ridiculous statement. It can be recovery, but natural, wild fish have been a thing of the past for a lot more years than you think. I, for one, don't care if the fish was raised to a smolt in a tank or on a river bed. They all eat the same, and they are all fun to catch. What is the difference, FNP? Does it just make you feel better to know that a human may not have helped in the development of the fish? I'm really trying to understand the thought process here. There would be no sport or commerical fishing for salmon if hatcheries were shut down.

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    Quote Originally Posted by denalihunter View Post
    Just scrolling back up, to see someone say all hatchery fish must die, is a ridiculous statement. It can be recovery, but natural, wild fish have been a thing of the past for a lot more years than you think. I, for one, don't care if the fish was raised to a smolt in a tank or on a river bed. They all eat the same, and they are all fun to catch. What is the difference, FNP? Does it just make you feel better to know that a human may not have helped in the development of the fish? I'm really trying to understand the thought process here. There would be no sport or commerical fishing for salmon if hatcheries were shut down.

    Just my .02. Beat me up as you wish...
    When it's all about harvest, the points you make above fit the objective just fine.

    However, when harvest trumps everything other consideration regarding the well-being of self-sustaining wild salmon populations, you eventually get exactly what we have in the PNW.... undeniable and utter hatchery dependence bordering on addiction to artificially propagated fish.

    When people perpetuate the delusion that we can magically overcome every human insult to wild salmon populations by simply making more fish, it's game over for the population at risk. It's a dangerous conceit to believe we can just continue to manufacture salmon at will. The reality is we can't.

    I suggest you pick up a copy of an excellent book Salmon Without Rivers by James Licatowich and spend the long cold winter nights enlightening your views on the matter.

    As far as wild salmon populations being a thing of the past.... YGTBFK, right? Apart from perhaps Kamchatka, Alaska is blessed with the healthiest most abundant stocks of wild salmon on the planet. Massive hatchery plants have screwed up wild salmon populations virtually everywhere else they range.

    My mantra "ALL hatchery fish MUST die" comes from the best available science that clearly shows adult spawners of hatchery origin exhibit very poor reproductive fitness. They compete with wild fish for redds on the spawning grounds and lay seemingly viable eggs. They produce living fry, and these compete with wild fish for food/cover. However, exceedingly few of those fish with hatchery-raised parents EVER survive to adulthood to spawn the next generation.... in some cases statistically indistinguishable from ZERO. It's literally a genetic dead end. Moreover, when hatchery fish spawn with wild fish on the gravel, the results can be nearly as bad. They effectively sap the reproductive potential of the wild fish in the pair. For practical purposes, you might as well have killed that wild fish. In effect, hatchery strays on the gravel are like biologic toxins to wild salmon populations... the more of them, the worse their biologically toxic effect. NOTHING good comes of their interaction.

    The best science indicates that much more effort must be directed at keeping hatchery fish from spawning in the wild. For many of us, the only good hatchery fish is a dead hatchery fish. The highest and best use of a hatchery fish is to die in a net or on the end of a line. That's why (beyond broodstock needs) ALL hatchery fish MUST die. If we're gonna flood our waters with hatchery fish, we also need to craft fisheries to maximally and SELECTIVELY exploit them.

    Any that go uncaught in the fishery or unspawned in the hatchery should be collected at weirs or diverted to collection ponds to be killed. Edible fish could be donated to foodbanks, churches, or nursing homes and the rest should be disposed or sold to be processed into fish meal. Eggs could also be sold along with the inedible carcasses, generating additional revenue to help offset the expenses of operating the hatchery.

    So do your part and fill your fish boxes to overflowing (of course within the legal limits set for your area) with hatchery fish... that's EXACTLY what they were made for.
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