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Thread: Kasilof King Hatchery Management.........Should we force change?

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    Default Kasilof King Hatchery Management.........Should we force change?

    Pretty likely that letting hatchery king's above the weir at the hatchery on Crooked Cr is NOT HELPING wild chinook production. I have talked to quite a few ppl about this and many believe that there is no longer "wild" production, but "natural" production.... Seems as through this is only valid point if there was actually proof that the hatchery fish where in fact contributing to unclipped returning adults. Unfortunatly, there is no science on this and ADFG is monitoring smolt production and still believes that these hatchery fish can in fact boost production.... There is not scientific proof anywhere that where there are wild fish that the hatchery fish spawning w/ wild fish actually increase wild production... In fact in all likelyhood by allowing these fish to spawn in the wild is very big risk.

    Link to article: http://www.columbian.com/article/200...6/-1/NEWSLOCAL

    Study: Offspring of hatchery fish carry reproductive 'handicap'
    Steelhead focus of OSU research
    Wednesday, June 10 | 10:20 p.m.
    BY ERIK ROBINSON
    COLUMBIAN STAFF WRITER

    If you're a fish raised in captivity, scientists know that it's hard for you to successfully reproduce in the wild.

    Now, it turns out, your kids may have the same curse.

    That's the startling conclusion of a new study by Oregon State University researchers who examined the reproductive success of hatchery-raised and wild steelhead in Oregon's Hood River.

    "I was surprised, frankly," said researcher Michael Blouin, an OSU zoology professor. "I thought the offspring of hatchery fish would be pretty much like a wild fish. But, in fact, they're still carrying a handicap they got from their parents."

    The new research undermines ongoing experiments by state and tribal fishery managers to crossbreed wild fish with fish raised in hatcheries. After more than a century of overfishing and habitat degradation, hatcheries now produce the overwhelming majority of the salmon and steelhead that return to the Columbia River basin each year. Fishery managers have suggested boosting the last vestiges of wild-spawning native salmon runs by crossbreeding them with relatively abundant hatchery fish.

    Doing so may cause more harm than good, according to the OSU researchers.

    From a wider lens, the researchers noted that their results could affect thousands of animal species expected to require captive breeding to prevent extinction over the next 200 years.

    "Captive-bred organisms could potentially drag down the fitness of the wild populations they are meant to support, even while temporarily boosting their numbers," the study concluded.

    Raised in steel and concrete raceways, hatchery fish aren't subjected to the same forces of natural selection that cull their wild-spawning cousins. Wild fish first must survive fast-moving currents that eradicate many eggs in the gravelly river bottoms. If they're lucky enough to emerge from the gravel intact, wild fish must find their own food while eluding predators before making their way to the ocean.

    The offspring of both hatchery and wild fish face these same obstacles.

    Yet, the OSU study found the offspring of two captive-bred parents reproduce at a rate that's only 37 percent of the offspring of two wild parents. For the offspring of one wild and one hatchery-raised parent, the reproductive fitness is 87 percent of fish with purely wild parentage.

    In other words, the behavioral characteristics necessary for survival appear to be embedded within the creature's genetic makeup.

    "This genetic suggestion is pretty startling," said Brian Gorman, a spokesman for the National Marine Fisheries Service in Seattle.

    Researchers haven't determined what harmful genetic trait the hatchery-raised fish are picking up and passing on to their offspring or how to rectify it. Blouin suggested one possibility: Hatchery managers may be selecting and crossbreeding fish with a relatively fast growth rate. This may be good for fishermen, but it may be problematic for any offspring produced by the steelhead.

    "A fish with a high metabolic rate is going to have to feed a lot more," Blouin said.

    Over time, maladapted genetic traits picked up in the hatchery could be eased out with each succeeding generation of fish spawned in the wild.

    However, hatcheries are likely to have an enduring influence. As long as hatcheries continue to exist producing meat for commercial, sport and tribal fishermen hatchery-raised fish are likely to continue to stray into wild spawning grounds.

    "If you're adding hatchery fish every year, you're constantly resetting the clock," Blouin said.

    That's why it's so important for hatchery managers to do everything they can to keep hatchery fish away from wild spawners, another scientist said.

    Lars Mobrand, a fisheries scientist who served on a federal review of 178 hatcheries operating in the Columbia basin, said hatchery fish should only be deliberately crossbred with wild fish in the most extreme cases. Unless a particular run is about to blink out completely, he said, hatchery fish should never be used to supplement wild runs.

    Mobrand said the OSU research, published in the scientific journal Biology Letters, underscores the point.

    "We have to go to greater lengths to (enhance) our ability to remove and harvest hatchery fish," he said. "Those that aren't harvested ought to be captured."

    Erik Robinson: 360-735-4551, or erik.robinson@columbian.com.

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    Gotta agree with Ty.

    No good EVER came of allowing hatchery fish to stray onto the gravel with their wild counterparts.

    Ensuring that the hatch fish being passed over the weir at CC are no more than one generation from wild (current policy is to NOT recycle hatch fish for broodstock) is better than recycling domesticated genetics, but ZERO hatchery pollution of the naturally-spawning population would be best.
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    Quote Originally Posted by fishNphysician View Post
    Gotta agree with Ty.

    No good EVER came of allowing hatchery fish to stray onto the gravel with their wild counterparts.

    Ensuring that the hatch fish being passed over the weir at CC are no more than one generation from wild (current policy is to NOT recycle hatch fish for broodstock) is better than recycling domesticated genetics, but ZERO hatchery pollution of the naturally-spawning population would be best.

    Lots of examples in the Pacific Northwest of how hatcheries can do more harm than good....hope that lesson doesn't fall on deaf ears.

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    Default Do ppl relize that ADFG intentionally allow Hatchery fish above Crooked Cr Weir???

    Hope ppl relize that ADFG is allowing the hatchery excess above the weir on Crooked Cr in in effort to both so called "natural" production.....

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    Ty is correct.

    The hatch fish are passed over the weir to bolster the escapement. It is simply and conveniently assumed that those fish make a net positive contribution to the reproductive capacity of the run, but the God honest truth is that there is not one study published anywhere that shows that to be the case.

    Got a call in to the lead CC bio to get a better feel for how many hatch fish are purposely allowed over the weir. Would be interesting to know what percentage of the escapement is hatch vs wild spawners.

    Probably one of the best and easiest things to implement at the BOF level would be to designate a specific wild stock BEG for the system (for that matter, any system where hatchery and wild are permitted to co-mingle) where hatch fish may NOT be counted as part of the escapement goal.

    Perhaps such a wild stock policy already exists? If so, it should be strictly enforced.
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    I believe these two excerpts from the article Ty posted speak volumes:

    the OSU study found the offspring of two captive-bred parents reproduce at a rate that's only 37 percent of the offspring of two wild parents. For the offspring of one wild and one hatchery-raised parent, the reproductive fitness is 87 percent of fish with purely wild parentage.

    In other words, the behavioral characteristics necessary for survival appear to be embedded within the creature's genetic makeup.

    Lars Mobrand, a fisheries scientist who served on a federal review of 178 hatcheries operating in the Columbia basin, said hatchery fish should only be deliberately crossbred with wild fish in the most extreme cases. Unless a particular run is about to blink out completely, he said, hatchery fish should NEVER be used to supplement wild runs.

    Mobrand said the OSU research, published in the scientific journal Biology Letters, underscores the point.

    "We have to go to greater lengths to (enhance) our ability to remove and harvest hatchery fish," he said. "Those that aren't harvested ought to be captured."
    "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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    The goal for Crooked Creek is 650-1,700 naturally-produced king salmon.

    http://www.sf.adfg.state.ak.us/FedAidPDFs/fms07-06.pdf

    The goal for any stocked fishery is for anglers to catch them all. This is the reason why the bag limit for those fish are two per day. I don't have the numbers of wild vs hatchery fish in the escapement in front of me, but genetics policy wants it below 50/50. Brood stock for anadromous stocking is never taken from returning hatchery fish.

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    Default Good info, but somehow u missed the point.....

    Quote Originally Posted by aktally View Post
    The goal for Crooked Creek is 650-1,700 naturally-produced king salmon.

    http://www.sf.adfg.state.ak.us/FedAidPDFs/fms07-06.pdf

    The goal for any stocked fishery is for anglers to catch them all. This is the reason why the bag limit for those fish are two per day. I don't have the numbers of wild vs hatchery fish in the escapement in front of me, but genetics policy wants it below 50/50. Brood stock for anadromous stocking is never taken from returning hatchery fish.
    You are correct that only returning wild fish are used for broodstock(except for when they don't have enough wild fish).... Jacks are also not spawned so there is an entire year class missing in the genetics component of the wild spawned wild fish.

    The wild and hatchery returns vary from year to year. I will post there numbers as I have them on spreadsheets and in charts and need to convert them to word form

    Also, the sport fishery catches 3:1 wild to hatchery and there is some serious front loading issures w/ harvest of these wild component of the Crook Cr run.

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    Thanks for the clarifications and the link to the PDF, aktally.

    I don't have the numbers of wild vs hatchery fish in the escapement in front of me, but genetics policy wants it below 50/50.
    If you scroll down to page 23 on the Adobe reader, you can see the wild/hatch ratios in the escapement.

    Doesn't look like the program is meeting the recommendation for "no more than 50% hatch fish on the gravel" very well. Of the most recent 8-yr period 1999-2006, only two years showed the wild escapement exceeding 50%. One year was about 50/50 and the other five showed hatch fish CLEARLY exceeding the 50% cap.

    Perhaps they need to liberalize the sport harvest on hatchery kings? Perhaps start retaining/detaining more of the hatch fish trapped below the weir so they don't make it to the gravel?
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    Default Good idea's Doc... But...

    Quote Originally Posted by fishNphysician View Post
    Thanks for the clarifications and the link to the PDF, aktally.



    If you scroll down to page 23 on the Adobe reader, you can see the wild/hatch ratios in the escapement.

    Doesn't look like the program is meeting the recommendation for "no more than 50% hatch fish on the gravel" very well. Of the most recent 8-yr period 1999-2006, only two years showed the wild escapement exceeding 50%. One year was about 50/50 and the other five showed hatch fish CLEARLY exceeding the 50% cap.

    Perhaps they need to liberalize the sport harvest on hatchery kings? Perhaps start retaining/detaining more of the hatch fish trapped below the weir so they don't make it to the gravel?
    At 2008 BOF I mad a presentation of charts that I will post here soon showing some of the problems w/ the Kasilof Fishery... Oh man.. You think the guides are defensive about the Kenai... What a hornets nest I stired up!!!

    Most of the general public and even some of the bio's are under the impression that these fish are so called "natural" and not wild due to hatchery influence....

    Anyway... Charts to be posted here soon!

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    Default what are we talking about?

    I'm curious what the suggestion is here. Is it that we shouldn't be augmenting crooked creek with hatchery chinook, or just that we shouldn't be allowing those fish to co-mingle to the degree we are? Deep Creek? Ninilchik???

    I'll take my shot at this particular facility. It was ill conceived when built, with political over biological motivation. The current F&G folks inherited the facility, so no one should get too defensive. The weir operation presents an interesting dilemma for F&G in that there is a concerted effort by the department to work for the removal of upstream barriers for juvenile fish, when and where roads/ culverts are concerned.

    In fact the department has the ADOT culvert ~1/2 mile downstream listed as a barrier; however, this weir is configured and run such that it is MUCH more of a barrier than is the Sterling Hwy. F&G would like ADOT to spend a $1M to fix the highway, but where are plans to redesign their weir?

    When this is pointed out, there is lots of looking at the ground and shuffling of feet, but no $ or leadership to fix or decommission the facility - Personally I'm all for the latter and hope my friends that work at the site get a better assignment.

    BTW - CC is a very long stream with something like 50 miles of documented habitat above the weir.

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    Default I have asked this question about the weir too...

    Quote Originally Posted by Lorax View Post
    I'm curious what the suggestion is here. Is it that we shouldn't be augmenting crooked creek with hatchery chinook, or just that we shouldn't be allowing those fish to co-mingle to the degree we are? Deep Creek? Ninilchik???

    I'll take my shot at this particular facility. It was ill conceived when built, with political over biological motivation. The current F&G folks inherited the facility, so no one should get too defensive. The weir operation presents an interesting dilemma for F&G in that there is a concerted effort by the department to work for the removal of upstream barriers for juvenile fish, when and where roads/ culverts are concerned.

    In fact the department has the ADOT culvert ~1/2 mile downstream listed as a barrier; however, this weir is configured and run such that it is MUCH more of a barrier than is the Sterling Hwy. F&G would like ADOT to spend a $1M to fix the highway, but where are plans to redesign their weir?

    When this is pointed out, there is lots of looking at the ground and shuffling of feet, but no $ or leadership to fix or decommission the facility - Personally I'm all for the latter and hope my friends that work at the site get a better assignment.

    BTW - CC is a very long stream with something like 50 miles of documented habitat above the weir.
    The suggestion is to stop letting hatchery adults upstream of Crooked Cr weir. This facility is really in rough shape and they are in dire need of juvenile and adult brood holding facilty. The existing raceways are concrete in the last stages of its life and crumbling away... The raceway intake is being modified as we speak and seem to have to be modified yearly (dredging substrate above intake). The current intake system allows are huge amount of sediment to fill the raceway (talking feet of sand and silt) and makes a disease breeding ground for both juvenile and adults that are held in these receways. Additionally, these raceways are needed in early June for smolt acclimation at the same time that adults start returning, but since they cant facilitate both adult passage above teh weir is sacraficed for smolt accalimation....

    Bottom line, KRSA, KRPGA, and other PNP agencies have offer funds and personel help Sport fish to vanp up this aging facility and still not much is changing anytime soon.



    I thought this weir was a juvenile barrier too... When I asked about I get the run around or... What fish need to access this?? Obviously, any mainstem spawning fish might produce juveniles that will likely seek the warmer waters of Crooked Cr and try to migrate up it... There is some 60+ miles of habitat.

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    Default Be patient these charts are educational, but very busy and little bit complicated...

    Here is a fun run timing comparison from 1979-1981 to 2005-2007... keep in mind Sport Fish took over Crooked Cr Operations in 1998.


    Notice a SIGNIFICANT run timing shift in the early part of this run... possibly the early component has been eliminated or much smaller.. Possibly that the early hatchery component is gone cause the hatchery fish come from wild fish... You get the idea, between huge front loading harvest from the sport fishery and limited access at the weir for adults the early Crooked Cr Kings appear to be GONE!

    This chart is little confusing until you figure out the sport fishery catch is the negative ribbons in the forground and the possitive ribbons are in teh background. Keep in mind two w/ the newer regulations that unclipped Kings are caught 3:1 in the sport fishery.


    Appears that there is a great coorilation between the sport fishery and Crook Cr passage... The historic data from the early 80's in the top graph may illistrate a significant change in run timing for these fish due to changes in the way the weir is operated and possibly limited adult passage above the weir.

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    That's a pretty dramatic change in the escapement over the years.... like the front end was just lopped off with a Ginzu knife!

    If it's real, that's a VERY worrisome trend.

    Any chance it's just an artifact of when hatchery personnel decide to let the adult migrants pass thru? In other words, are the early fish simply forced to "stage" in the pools immediately below the weir until hatchery staff open the gates?
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    Default Good questions Doc...

    Quote Originally Posted by fishNphysician View Post
    That's a pretty dramatic change in the escapement over the years.... like the front end was just lopped off with a Ginzu knife!

    If it's real, that's a VERY worrisome trend.

    Any chance it's just an artifact of when hatchery personnel decide to let the adult migrants pass thru? In other words, are the early fish simply forced to "stage" in the pools immediately below the weir until hatchery staff open the gates?

    I think both you and I know Doc that I doubt anyone wants to talk about this... Why has this not been looked at? I think this may just be the tip of the iceburg.

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    Stock the heck out the Kasilof. IMO, there aren't a any (or many) native fish left in that river. This river was "sacrificed" many years ago with the stocking of kings. It is too late to bring it back to only native fish. Stock the heck out it in the name of opportunity. Unfortunatley it is the sacrificed river on the KP, but it has the ability to take a lot of pressure off the other systems. I don't fish the river any more and haven't fished it in 7 or 8m years so I really don't have a dog in the fight but as I said, IMO, the damages has been done, lets return it to it's heydays and help relieve pressure from the other KP streams.

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    Default wrong approach

    Quote Originally Posted by yukon View Post
    Stock the heck out the Kasilof. IMO, there aren't a any (or many) native fish left in that river. This river was "sacrificed" many years ago with the stocking of kings. It is too late to bring it back to only native fish. Stock the heck out it in the name of opportunity. Unfortunatley it is the sacrificed river on the KP, but it has the ability to take a lot of pressure off the other systems. I don't fish the river any more and haven't fished it in 7 or 8m years so I really don't have a dog in the fight but as I said, IMO, the damages has been done, lets return it to it's heydays and help relieve pressure from the other KP streams.

    Yukon, one reason the stocking level was reduced was straying of hatchery fish into the Kenai River and mixing with wild Kenai River chinook. Slikok Creek has a number of strays in it. So making more Crooked Creek chinook makes this issue greater and probably not a wise thing to do.

    In practice I disagree with rewarding bad hatchery practice with after the fact permits and letting the damage be done. If a developer filled a wetland and then said the damage is done I do not have to repair it I would hope all fish users would say no way - fix it to the best you can. However, you seem to take the opposite point of view - leave it and if it provides opportunity then opportunity wins out in this case and in others as well - we need to draw a line that opportunity does not allow habitat destruction or wild stock alterations. The Crooked Creek project was poorly designed as well as some of the lower peninsula stream stocking and they should be scaled back. We need to learn to live with what we have not try to meet the increased demand. We can never do that and in the end if we try to do it with hatchery fish we will fail everyone.

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    Default This is the guide mentality that needs to be squashed!!

    Quote Originally Posted by yukon View Post
    Stock the heck out the Kasilof. IMO, there aren't a any (or many) native fish left in that river. This river was "sacrificed" many years ago with the stocking of kings. It is too late to bring it back to only native fish. Stock the heck out it in the name of opportunity. Unfortunatley it is the sacrificed river on the KP, but it has the ability to take a lot of pressure off the other systems. I don't fish the river any more and haven't fished it in 7 or 8m years so I really don't have a dog in the fight but as I said, IMO, the damages has been done, lets return it to it's heydays and help relieve pressure from the other KP streams.
    All due respect Yukon this is total hogwash.... There is no scientific evidence that the hatchery fish are contributing any production to Crooked Cr.... You find one scientific study throughout the entire Pacidic Rim of where hatchery fish spawning in the wild actually help the wild fish then maybe we will talk, but there is no such evidence...

    To the contrary wild fish are still helping sustain the Kasilof Fishery as creel evidence sugest that wild fish are caught at a ratio of 3:1 to hatchery fish!!! As a guide how can you condemn a fish that is 3 your clients are 3 times as likely to catch?

    Still not buying it? Steelhead where heaviy stocked in Crooked Cr for 10+ years and amny argue that the remineants of that population are only from the hatchery... Studies conducted over the last 4 years by USFWS and ADFG show that these are wild fish and their life histrories are not those consistant of hatchery fish but consistant with those of the other steelhead in the Kasilof Watershed.

    About stocking levels, you make a good argument that stocking levels should be increased.... However, to accomplish this the current acclimation area should be changed from Crooked Cr where there are wild fish, to a terminal area where there would be no mixing of wild and hatchery fish. Then everyone wins, wild fish in Crooked Cr are less impacted by hatchery spawners, guides have more hatchery fish to harvest that do not have a Creek to go up to scape harvest, and may be readily available to harvest at higher rates.

    ADFG need to start including all age class's of wild fish in their brood stock coolection at Crooked Cr., stop letting hatchery fish above the weir (total nonsence), and aggressively seek or build better and imporved acclimation facility that allows fish to be held for a longer period of time w/ less mortality and where densities can be reduced during this time so these fish are sure to imprint on the Kasilof and not stray into other Rivers.

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    Default I respectfully disaggree Nerka.... Some things are not accurate in your statements...

    Quote Originally Posted by Nerka View Post
    Yukon, one reason the stocking level was reduced was straying of hatchery fish into the Kenai River and mixing with wild Kenai River chinook. Slikok Creek has a number of strays in it. So making more Crooked Creek chinook makes this issue greater and probably not a wise thing to do.

    In practice I disagree with rewarding bad hatchery practice with after the fact permits and letting the damage be done. If a developer filled a wetland and then said the damage is done I do not have to repair it I would hope all fish users would say no way - fix it to the best you can. However, you seem to take the opposite point of view - leave it and if it provides opportunity then opportunity wins out in this case and in others as well - we need to draw a line that opportunity does not allow habitat destruction or wild stock alterations. The Crooked Creek project was poorly designed as well as some of the lower peninsula stream stocking and they should be scaled back. We need to learn to live with what we have not try to meet the increased demand. We can never do that and in the end if we try to do it with hatchery fish we will fail everyone.
    Nerka,

    First off, ADFG has messed w/ the acclamation released dates, holding times, ect over the years and likely that poor acclamation facilities and techniques are responsible for Crook Cr kings straying all over.

    Secondly, tell me exactly how many CONFIRMED Kasilof ad clips where fourd in the Kenai R and where? Cause at this time there are still ad clip fish being recovered in the Kenai R, but there source remains unknown.
    Don't forget the ADFG had a HUGE marking program on a the Moose and it is known that incidental chinook mistaken for coho where ad clipped.

    14 ad clips where observed up the Funny in 2006, 7 in 2008..... Where these Kasilof Fish? ANybodies guess? Either way they would represent less then a 1% of the total run and a cause for little threat.

    The bigger idea is that the Kasilof R Chinook enhancement program has been shuffled under the rug and is a thron in the side of Sport Fish... Sadly, suffering are the wild fish of Crooked Cr and one of the greatest road side fisheries in the state of Alaska is being silently lost.... This project w/ community involvment and ADFG leadership could once be great again and would bring millions of Dollars back to the Pennisula in May and June!

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    Sorry guys I am not fully versed or researched on the Kasilof. It looks to me like you all are complaining about interbreeding of hatchery and wild fish. Are there truely "wild" fish left in the Kasilof or are they all interbred? I am just saying that there really isn't a genetically pure wild/native strain left. I could be wrong, wouldn't be the first time. The Kasilof takes a lot of pressure from other rivers on the KP, does the end justify the means? that is for people much smarter than I.

    Nerka, I had forgotten about the kasilof fish getting mixed in with the Slikok fish, obviously undesireable. I know there was a proposal for no limit to hatchery marked fish caught in the kenai to try and minimize this, it went down.

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