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Thread: "The Trouble With Hatcheries"

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    Default "The Trouble With Hatcheries"

    I found this article interesting.

    http://peninsulaclarion.com/outdoors...ith-hatcheries

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    Epic fail. If they had their way, their would be no fish left in the ocean.

  3. #3

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    It's hard to imagine that juvenile kings, particularly in SC and Western Alaska, are being affected by the juvenile hatchery pinks and chums (which are primarily in PWS and SE Alaska). The Juveniles are feeding much closer to home, tough to blame the hatcheries that are much further away from the SC rivers.

    There are other clear causes for concern that we can observe (by-catch in the trawl fishery and habitat destruction on the Kenai and Mat-Su rivers). That's a much more likely cause of problems than competition among juvenile fish whose habitats don't really overlap that much.

    Then consider the record runs of wild salmon in SE this year. Hatcheries sure didn't inhibit them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AKJOB View Post
    It's hard to imagine that juvenile kings, particularly in SC and Western Alaska, are being affected by the juvenile hatchery pinks and chums (which are primarily in PWS and SE Alaska). The Juveniles are feeding much closer to home, tough to blame the hatcheries that are much further away from the SC rivers.

    There are other clear causes for concern that we can observe (by-catch in the trawl fishery and habitat destruction on the Kenai and Mat-Su rivers). That's a much more likely cause of problems than competition among juvenile fish whose habitats don't really overlap that much.

    Then consider the record runs of wild salmon in SE this year. Hatcheries sure didn't inhibit them.
    Actually, the issue may be both a food issue and predation issue. Over 30 years ago Dr. Salo of the UW presented a hypothesis that increasing release of hatchery chum salmon worldwide would stress the Pacific Ocean when the productivity of the ocean decreased -

    Also, pink salmon are feeding machines and one hypothesis for odd/even cycles is that returning pink salmon eat young pink salmon headed out to sea. There are other hypothesis to explain odd/even cycles but the volume of hatchery fish going into the ocean should be of concern relative to wild stocks.

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    Hatchery salmon sure aren't helping the wild stocks in Washington and Oregon. And even worse, they mask the problems with wild runs. As long as they are catching salmon, the public in general won't ask where they are coming from or if it is sustainable.
    An opinion should be the result of thought, not a substitute for it.
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    "The use of fish hatcheries to restore and augment salmon runs has a long history of failure in the Pacific Northwest, and is now threatening wild salmon stocks in the ocean. Augment our king salmon runs with hatchery fish? Thatís crazy talk."

    +1
    "Let every angler who loves to fish think what it would mean to him to find the fish were gone." Zane Grey
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    Default Possible, but probable?

    Quote Originally Posted by Nerka View Post
    Actually, the issue may be both a food issue and predation issue. Over 30 years ago Dr. Salo of the UW presented a hypothesis that increasing release of hatchery chum salmon worldwide would stress the Pacific Ocean when the productivity of the ocean decreased -

    Also, pink salmon are feeding machines and one hypothesis for odd/even cycles is that returning pink salmon eat young pink salmon headed out to sea. There are other hypothesis to explain odd/even cycles but the volume of hatchery fish going into the ocean should be of concern relative to wild stocks.
    I agree that in theory, larger numbers of hatchery salmon will at some point affect the productivity of the Pacific. However, it's hard to make that argument in the same year that allowed record returns of pink salmon to survive in both SE (wild pinks) and PWS pinks (hatchery and wild). If there was too much competition and not enough available food sources, wouldn't it be reasonable to expect that one or both of those runs would have been adversely affected too? Density-based competition should have it's worst effects near the source, not thousands of miles away.

    Also, the weak king salmon runs that were the focus of the article are mostly in SC and Western Alaska. That's very far from PWS and SE, where the king salmon runs are still strong, and the density of hatchery smolt is highest. Wouldn't you expect there to be a correlation between the density of the hatchery fish and the weaker king salmon runs?

    Based on the evidence I've seen, it's hard to believe that hatchery production is the primary cause of the decline, but perhaps as the author pointed out, one of many sources. As for pointing to the lower 48 problems and relating them to hatcheries. Go take a look at the degradation of habitat caused by dams, urban sprawl, agriculture, etc. Worrying about hatcheries should be the lowest on their list of priorities for improving hatchery runs next to those issues. The same could/should be said of the rivers in Mat-Su and the Kenai.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AKJOB View Post
    I agree that in theory, larger numbers of hatchery salmon will at some point affect the productivity of the Pacific. However, it's hard to make that argument in the same year that allowed record returns of pink salmon to survive in both SE (wild pinks) and PWS pinks (hatchery and wild). If there was too much competition and not enough available food sources, wouldn't it be reasonable to expect that one or both of those runs would have been adversely affected too? Density-based competition should have it's worst effects near the source, not thousands of miles away.
    .
    It showed in the PWS pinks this year. Smallest humpies I've ever seen. We'll see what the future brings.
    An opinion should be the result of thought, not a substitute for it.
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    AKJOB- I do not think we know where the bottleneck on production would be in the ocean. It may be near the river of origin and it may not. Also, the species impacted may not be the abundant species but another species. I guess to put this different - if 100 skinny cows are on the field one should not add more cows to the field. Just saying that hatcheries are not the answer to reduced wild stock production but in fact may cause more of a problem if the reduced production is food related. Also, I said food or predatory behavior.

    I see a desire by some to think well wild stocks are down so lets make hatchery fish and everything will be better. Not always true and hatcheries are expensive. The State got out of the hatchery business and yet supports failed hatcheries with grants and easy loans.

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    The article identifies two seperate events (large number of hatchery fish in Alaskan waters, and the collapse of Chinook salmon stocks), and then tries to make a correlation based on 'cause and effect'. It's good to see the author is not claiming to be a scientist. No reputable scientist would ever make such a statement without some evidence. Unfortunately, none is provided. My sense is that these two events are entirely unrelated.

    However, that is NOT to say the article has no value. Quite the opposite. It serves a very important purpose. That is, it correctly anticipates the call for constructing hatcheries as a way to "improve" the stocks of Chinook salmon throughout much of Alaska. The article points out the failures of that strategy. Constructing hatcheries to compensate for other sources of mortality might help in the short-term but over the long-term, it is destructive. I realize the folks in Alaska really don't care how things are done in the L-48, but look no farther than what has happend in Oregon and Washington. The salmon stocks in the PNW are almost entirely of hatchery origin. Wild fish are few and far between. It is a lesson that must not be repeated in Alaska. Since the article was published in a daily newspaper, the audience includes alot of folks who might not know any better. A non-technical audience might assume that developing hatcheries is a great way to avoid the problems of not enough fish. I hope the article provides some useful information that would cause them to re-think their assumptions.

    In my view, the best way to avoid the problems with the collapse of the Chinook stocks across the Great Land is to continue to protect and restore their habitat, reduce mortality from whatever source we can control (especially commercial, recreational, and subsistence fishing {in that order}), and most importantly - remain patient. These stocks will rebound if we give them a chance. They always have, provided they have access to high quality freshwater habitat they need to reproduce.

    But I realize that "remaining patient" is one of the most difficult tasks in the human endeavor.

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    Question Questions . . .

    Quote Originally Posted by Cohoangler View Post
    1) . . Constructing hatcheries to compensate for other sources of mortality might help in the short-term but over the long-term, it is destructive. . . . 2) The salmon stocks in the PNW are almost entirely of hatchery origin. Wild fish are few and far between. . .

    Cohoangler,


    Thanks for the perspective. A couple questions:


    1) Destructive of what? How so? What about Michigan's salmon fisheries (chinook & coho) in the great lakes? Are those hatchery fish?


    2) If the salmon stocks in PNW fisheries are of hatchery origin and wild stock few and far between, why is this a bad thing?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marcus View Post
    Cohoangler,
    Thanks for the perspective. A couple questions:
    1) Destructive of what? How so? What about Michigan's salmon fisheries (chinook & coho) in the great lakes? Are those hatchery fish?
    2) If the salmon stocks in PNW fisheries are of hatchery origin and wild stock few and far between, why is this a bad thing?
    Hatchery salmon are destructive to wild salmon (and other species). They compete for resources. By sheer numbers they increase the predators that prey upon wild fish. When they return they are harvested at a rate that is unsustainable for wild fish. Straying of hatchery fish breaks down the genetics of the wild fish. Hatcheries are also a huge source of disease.

    The worst is, whole ecosystems are broken down by lack of wild runs. Where salmon occur, the nutrients they bring back to their native streams don't just stay in the streams. As they are eaten and defecated by land mammals and birds they fertilize the surrounding area. Not having wild salmon sterilizes huge areas. Hatchery salmon are butchered and sold either for human consumption or for pet food. Nothing goes back into the local environment.

    http://www.bearbiology.com/fileadmin...rley_15_1_.pdf

    Hatcheries are a bandaid on a gaping wound. A placebo. They make you think they've healed the problem when in fact they've made it worse.
    An opinion should be the result of thought, not a substitute for it.
    - Jef Mallett

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    Thanks Marcus. Great questions. Those questions are frequently raised when discussing concerns with hatchery and wild fish. But I also know that you know the answers, since they have been debated on this BB for many years.

    Nonetheless .....

    Hatcheries are often destructive of the long-term viability of the stocks native to a specific watershed. The impacts come from several sources, many of which may not be directly related to the hatchery. Direct affects include loss of genetic diversity, disease transmission, and loss of spawning habitat (depending on the water source). Indirect effects include overharvest of wild fish (due to hatchery fish being able to be harvested at 90%or more), loss of habitat since the mindset is "Fish are produced in hatcheries, so we can completely log this watershed and still have salmon". Or withdraw most of the water, or dam this tributary, or fill in these wetlands, or whatever. Since salmon come from hatcheries, the watershed becomes expendible.

    As for the Great Lakes, that's a different story. Salmon in the GL's are sustained by hatchery supplementation. Natural spawning does occur, and is quite extensive in many areas, particularly in Lake Superior. However, there is minimal commercial or Tribal harvest directed at Pacific salmon. Most of the fishing effort is directed at lake whitefish, lake trout, and walleye. That's where the $$'s is. So continued reliance on hatchery salmon is the only way to sustain their recreational fishery. It is strictly put and take. Since that is the goal, hatcheries are fine. But I believe that Pacific salmon on the Pacific coast are far more than a put and take fishery.

    And that answers your second question. However, whenever I try to answer the question of which is preferable, wild or hatchery fish, it quickly turns to an issue of values. Which do you or I value more: Wild fish or hatchery fish? And why? Many philisophical arguments have been spawned (pardon the pun) from such a question. We could debate that on this BB for a very long time, and indeed we have done exactly that many times. However, in my view (i.e., my values) wild Pacific salmon have been here far longer than we have. They have as much a place in this region than I have. Perhaps more. I'm not saying all Pacific salmon must be wild, or that hatcheries have no place in our world. But I am saying that having self sustaining stocks of wild salmon, in addition to harvestable hatchery salmon, should be an important part of the Pacific Northwest. Again, just my values.

    PM sent.

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    Unhappy . . and cannot come again.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cohoangler View Post
    . . in my view (i.e., my values) wild Pacific salmon have been here far longer than we have. They have as much a place in this region than I have. Perhaps more. I'm not saying all Pacific salmon must be wild, or that hatcheries have no place in our world. But I am saying that having self sustaining stocks of wild salmon, in addition to harvestable hatchery salmon, should be an important part of the Pacific Northwest. Again, just my values. . .

    Thanks, Cohoangler,


    Excellent answers and an even more excellent summation of the real issue.


    I'll leave you with a favorite poem by A. E. Housman:


    "Into my heart an air that kills
    From yon far country blows:
    What are those blue remembered hills,
    What spires, what farms are those?

    "That is the land of lost content,
    I see it shining plain,
    The happy highways where I went
    And cannot come again."

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    Time to harpoon some more whales.

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