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Thread: Article on PWSAC hatcheries - too many fish?

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    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    Default Article on PWSAC hatcheries - too many fish?

    http://alaskadispatch.com/dispatches...am-sound-spill

    I know we've talked about this a time or two, but in light of the fact that PWSAC is proposing yet another increase in their output (this time in some Copper River-linked lakes, some of which have not been previously stocked), I figured this would be worth a read, if not a lengthy thread.

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    I often wonder when there will not be enough food in the ocean for all the salmon. Do these hatchery fish compete with the natural runs for food in the ocean? Is this one of the reasons some of our natural runs are faltering?
    I just wonder.
    Really surprised no one else has commented on this.

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    The ocean pasture is certainly NOT the limitless cornucopia of feed that everyone assumes. And straying of hatchery fish by the millions onto the gravel is NOT without its perils. WILD fish are paying the price.

    It's a dangerous conceit to believe that we can simply manufacture salmon at will.... that man can do it better than nature. We can't.

    If there's one thing we should have figured out by now, it's that you can't tug or push or pull at any one thing in nature without eventually finding out it's connected to everything else. These are MASSIVE and very unnatural impacts being placed on the ecosystem with no checks and balances... except of course the ones tied to multi-million $$$ bank accounts.

    What's happening in the Sound is just a re-hash of how salmon were mis-managed in the PNW. Blind reliance on hatchery production as the one and only cure to fix all the ailments of the resource.

    The puzzling part of the whole picture is that there was NOTHING wrong with the wild fish stocks of Prince William Sound to begin with. There was no ailment to cure. Just another untapped economic opportunity.

    And now the system has been so changed by the hand of man, that the presence of hatchery fish have come to largely supplant the presence of wild fish. All of this artificial abundance fuels an incredible harvest machine, prosecuting ridiculously obscene exploitation rates to harvest the mass-produced hatchery stocks to the utter detriment of wild stocks that simply CANNOT withstand the same level of exploitation.

    Tremendous pressures have been (and continue to be) placed on policymakers to maintain the status quo... or in this case, expand it even further. Afterall the economy depends on it, don't you know.

    To put it bluntly, the industry is addicted to hatchery fish. The problem isn't gonna get any better if we simply keep feeding the addiction.

    There comes a time to just say NO MORE! It's long since overdue.
    "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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    Quote Originally Posted by fishNphysician View Post
    The ocean pasture is certainly NOT the limitless cornucopia of feed that everyone assumes. And straying of hatchery fish by the millions onto the gravel is NOT without its perils. WILD fish are paying the price.
    Another thing to consider is the increase in whales. I've seen a few editorials written on that. Lots of whales in the ocean, and they eat a lot of the same stuff salmon do.

    That being said, their is feed pretty much everywhere on the west coast of POW this summer. No shortage of balls off herring and candle fish.

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    [No shortage of balls off herring and candle fish.[/QUOTE]

    Hmmmm must be that new spay and neuter program - how is it working out?

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    haha! Dangit, past the edit time!

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    Default Sweet Success

    Funny thing is the ADN of course negated to write a follow-up article reporting that every single fish was harvested, processed and sent to market. They also didn't mention that because of the PSWAC bounty, the seiners didn't have to chase wild fish. The Dept. was able to schedule openers in terminal hatchery areas thusly protecting the wild stocks. The entire western side of Port Wells was closed to protect wild fish.
    There was plenty of escapement to support wild stock openers, but because of the hatchery abundance it wasn't needed. Early in sept there was a survey flown in PWS and almost every wild pink and chum run was at or above escapement levels.
    Its a win-win for all. 70 plus million hatchery fish were harvested and sent to market at a premium, providing a much needed healthy protein source and not a fish wasted. As for poor ocean conditions, i've never seen healthier pink salmon (wild or hatchery)
    In my opinion its only fair to follow-up w/ the success story after everybody wrote PSWAC off as the bad guy.

    I hate the yuppy term "kudos" so I'll just say keep up the good work PSWAC!

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    Honest questions here. How can you tell a hatchery fish from a wild fish in the escapement counts? Are the bio's taking samples? Certainly a flight over cannot tell the difference.

    It seems that in the PNW they clip tails on most of the hatchery fish...here in AK i haven't seen very many clipped silvers or pinks..a few kings from the Kasilof I have seen.

    How is the mixing of the two monitored? Is it perhaps a moot point - can wild fish and hatchery fish succesfully reproduce? Can hatchery fish intermingle with wild fish, causing a less than normal reproduction rate for wild fish, even if the hatchery fish cannot successfully spawn and return?

    Being a sport fisherman that likes salmon in my freezer, I enjoy catching and eating all the salmon I can get. I can't tell the difference between a hatchery fish and a wild fish on the table at dinner. But I also have reservations about humans poking their noses where they don't belong - and where it might be "iffy" on the consequences.

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    Fullbrush - If you are a person making lots of money off hatchery fish then I understand why in the short term one would want to overload a system with hatchery fish. However, saying that wild stocks were not harvested because of hatchery fish begs the question of why have hatcheries? If the wild stocks are not being harvested then they are not being managed for sustain yield management that the law requires. So why spend lots of money to produce hatchery fish that do have negative consequences on wild stocks? I think your zeal for the program is overstated and the concerns about unlimited and excessive hatchery production are valid in the case of PWS. I do not think the PWS program should be a model of anything except showing how short term money can cause long term costs to the system and others. There is a place for hatcheries but the justification of harvest and money led to the demise of wild stocks in the Pacific Northwest and I believe the costs in PWS are not fully felt yet.

    I also do not believe the PWS program would be permitted today under the genetic policies and good management practices idea if it could be redone.

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    Nerka you're the last person I want to argue science w/ simply because I'm not qualified. The state seems squeamish about managing for sustained yield. Its sort of a catch-22, for instance if one system on the west side Port Wells has a weak chum return then the whole west side is closed, leaving systems choked w/ pinks. What if we had an earth quake and we lost an entire age class or worse? Coghill lake is a prime example. Thank God for Main Bay, because they have the brood to revitalize the system. I wouldn't down play the importance of the hatcheries in the sound. Your last sentence sounds more political than scientific, the state was much more cooperative when came to issuing permits to make more fish before PWSAC got payed by Exxon and satisfied their loans. Also wasn't it the state that started the hatcheries in the 1st place? What about the Eyak reds they released in Eshamy Lake? When was that in the '30's? Thats a vibrant run now that people would never believe was man-made. I think the hatcheries are much needed, I'm sorry that the bureaucrats in the government can't take credit for their success

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    Good points, Nerka. I too have some concerns about the hatchery program in PWS. However, I also see the benefits that it provides...and these benefits apply to more than just commercial fishermen.

    The information about straying that was in some of the department memos regarding the permit increases was more than troubling, but I've also heard that it may not have been the best science going into those estimates. I can't honestly say, from what I know, what is right/wrong...just that there was internal disagreement.

    I sure would hope that, if there was internal disagreement about the data, the Department would get some outside peer review of their information. The requested increases were significant, and in a system such as PWS where you have many, many, many "weak" wild stocks you have lots of potential impact.

    I have a lot of respect for the Department and the many fine people working within, but it's troubling when some within the Department so vehemently resist peer review (not saying it was/was not applicable to this case, but it has been the case in other situations).

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    Fullbrush and MrFish - I agree with the concept of a full blown outside review of the hatchery programs in PWS and also around the State. The State of Alaska has not been very open to the idea of peer review or even questions that challenge a direction.

    Fullbrush - not making a political statement. I just know that the guidelines and politics of hatcheries were different when PWS started and when the State took up hatcheries. For example, Crooked Creek here on the Kenai Peninsula was started and funded by the legislature without a site visit by professionals. The site was terrible - bad water, poor location, no good stocking sites as Tustumena Lake has has demostrated, and very costly to keep going. Also, there was no genetic considerations in the number of fish planted. Since then ADF&G has put in place policies that would probably keep Crooked Creek and other facilities the State had from operating the way they started.

    Another example on the peninsula is Trail Lake hatchery. It is being run by CIAA after the State give it up. The limitations on operating it are much more strict that when it was built.

    I wish for a review of hatcheries in this state and what the good and bad attributes are.

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    Quote Originally Posted by fishNphysician View Post

    The puzzling part of the whole picture is that there was NOTHING wrong with the wild fish stocks of Prince William Sound to begin with. There was no ailment to cure. Just another untapped economic opportunity.
    Not true, the '64 Earthquake wiped out a lot of the runs. Thats why the PWS hatcheries were started. Most of the humpies in the western sound can be traced back to hatchery roots.

    However, stocking the copper river with more fish is stupid... And I'd bet against the state's new(ish) stocking policies.
    I choose to fly fish, not because its easy, but because its hard.

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    Yeah well the state has been enhancing the Copper since the early 70's they just pawned it off on PSWAC because the cost recovery in the sound pays the upriver bills. Maybe we should start taxing fishing license fees more to share the burden. The 2% aquaculture tax wasn't footing the bill. The dipnetters and subsistence folks aren't complaining. What we need to do is take some Gulkana and Klutina chinook brood and turn it into a mega run of about 500,000 and open the flats to Area E drift permit holders 7 days a week beginning May 1st. We should close the entire upper Copper and its tributaries to sport slaughter and let this state prosper again. Hmm guess I should get on the fish&game advisory committee and see if we can champion this ( the wink means I'm kidding don't get your boxers in a bunch)






    I choose to fish w/ a gillnet not because it's easy but because it feeds people

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    Quote Originally Posted by fullbush View Post


    I choose to fish w/ a gillnet not because it's easy but because it feeds people
    That is nice of you. How do you cover expenses?

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    Quote Originally Posted by yukon View Post
    That is nice of you. How do you cover expenses?
    Bud I'm a highliner (in other words my wife has a good job )

    Besides it was a joking gesture to akpowdermonkeys signature

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    Thought I might give a reference for some to follow up on. Unfortunately, I could not copy the abstact into this forum. The first article published in Science 318, 5847 1 (2007) was by Hitoshi Araki, Becky Cooper, and Michael Blouin entitled "Genetic effects of captive breeding cause a rapid cumulative fitness decline in the wild." A second article in Biol. Lett (2009) 5, 621 -624 is a follow up with more data and is by the same authors. They are working with steelhead trout.

    In the article the authors show a significant decline in wild stock fitness with future generations even with only one or two hatchery produced fish breeding with a wild stock fish. This impact is also carried over to future generations by the offspring. I have the articles but cannot post them as they are copy protected. Hopefully, those that are interested can find them via the reference to the journals.

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    Default yes but post a link

    Quote Originally Posted by Nerka View Post
    I have the articles but cannot post them as they are copy protected. Hopefully, those that are interested can find them via the reference to the journals.
    Nerka,

    Heck, just post a link to them, like this:
    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/conten...t/318/5847/100

    No copy protection problems there. No one ever got shot for posting a link to another place, despite an veiled threats you may receive locally for doing so. Its so commonplace for the last many years that even the less with-it Internet sites are starting to believe its OK to do.

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    Default tacky tacky tacky

    FamilyMan and Nerka I can't believe you guys wanna use this skewered rubbish when we're discussing a pacific salmon enhancement in our waters? Shame!
    Brown trout, chickens, atlantic salmon and steelhead do not have a correlation here! They don't die after reproduction for one thing. For another there is no forced evolution, geez what a bunch of smoke and mirrors. I'm disappointed quite frankly. There is no genetic alteration. The only difference between a wild PWSAC salmon and a wild salmon is the odolith marking. PWSAC salmon don't stray and spawn w/ the wild fish and thats a fact. Quit throwing doctored up skewered science into the mix when your discussing OUR Hatcheries in PWS! Its just tacky and wrong. You want accurate data then talk to the biologists at ADF&G in Cordova or call PSWAC biologist Dave Regianni. I'm pretty sure I want that outside example stricken from the pages because its just false when your talking PSWAC Thats all

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    Quote Originally Posted by fullbush View Post
    There is no genetic alteration. The only difference between a wild PWSAC salmon and a wild salmon is the odolith marking.
    How can you say this with the certainty you assert, fullbush? There was a fair amount of information in some of the Department's comments on the requested permit increases that is quite contrary to your position. I think the real question is; is the genetic differentiation (yes, if it exists) significant and detrimental? Are there better ways in which the hatcheries should be collecting broodstock to avoid or minimize genetic issues with wild stock?


    PWSAC salmon don't stray and spawn w/ the wild fish and thats a fact.
    Whoa, whoa, whoa there fullbush. I think you're all wet on this one...and again, the information is straight from the Department. There is no doubt that straying is occuring and quite likely interbreeding with "wild" stocks. Again, the real question is to what degree is it occuring and is it significant and/or detrimental to the wild stocks.

    Did someone post a link to these Department comments in this or the other thread? If so, why don't we get it in front of us again. This is some of the information that I mentioned a few posts earlier, where I understand that there is some internal disagreement about the quality or significance of the data. It has information on straying that, if valid, may be quite significant, in my opinion.

    I'll see if I can find the Department's comments...if someone else finds them before I do...please post a link or attachment.

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