Saturday, January 28, 2012



“In the Clackamas River basin, the summer steelhead hatchery adults had poor reproductive success; fewer smolts were produced per parent than in the wild population, and almost no offspring of hatchery fish survived to adulthood (Kostow et al. 2003). The hatchery program was meant to provide a sport fishery, and the production of adult offspring was not intended. If successful hatchery reproduction had occurred, at least the offspring could have contributed to fisheries. Instead, the hatchery fish wasted basin capacity by occupying habitat and depressing wild production while producing nothing useful themselves. It is not unusual for hatchery adults to have poor reproductive success when they spawn naturally (other examples are provided by Reisenbichler and Rubin 1999, Kostow 2004, and McLean et al. 2004). The combined effect of poor hatchery fish fitness and depressed wild fish production due to competition with the hatchery fish poses a double jeopardy that could quickly erode natural production in any system.” 

Kostow & Zhou (2006) page 839:

Not only do hatchery fish waste habitat, making it less productive than it would be with wild salmon and steelhead spawners, the investments made in habitat restoration are also wasted when the habitat is over-run with naturally spawning hatchery fish.  When the benefits of habitat restoration are calculated the impact of hatchery fish on those benefits is never included. Habitat restoration is based on the dual premise that it improves the productivity of wild salmonids and that it is cost effective. It is also assumed that habitat is limiting in all cases and that to increase the production of wild salmonids habitat investment is necessary.  Because habitat restoration is typically not done within the context of fishery management by government agencies such factors as harvest and hatchery impacts are not addressed and the limitations these actions impose on the success of habitat investment is not acknowledged, evaluated and monitored.  

It is important that habitat restoration serves the fish, improves watershed productivity and benefits other wildlife and not become an official deception.  Habitat restoration should not be used by agencies to escape their accountability to protect wild salmonids and the healthy watersheds they require to be self-sustaining.

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