Hatchery or wild?

Discussion in 'Steelhead' started by Kaiserman, Sep 29, 2012.

  1. Salmo_g

    Salmo_g Active Member

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    Freestoneangler,


    Native wild steelhead are common to all the major PS river basins. In most cases, except likely the Skykomish, wild fish outnumber hatchery steelhead adult returns because of the huge decline in hatchery steelhead returns over the last decade or two. The % of the run that is wild varies annually within and between river basins. Even an approximate value would be so inaccurate as to only further confuse the issue, since wild steelhead equal nearly 100% of the run in some rivers (Nisqually) and less than 50% in others, like possibly the Skykomish and Green. From what I gather, it is likely that most of the wild steelhead in the mid-C tributaries are the product of natural reproduction by hatchery origin steelhead. That may also be true for Snake River tributaries, but I don't know. I'm not sure anyone does.

    As for taking part of your post out of context, I grabbed that part of it that is inaccurate, both in and out of context of your entire post. Therefore the yellow flag seems unwarranted.

    As for killing wild steelhead if they returned in sufficient numbers to include what is called "surplus production" in harvest management terms, nothing would be wrong with that. By definition, the harvest of surplus production does not harm the sustainability or productivity of a population. If it does harm either of those parameters, then it really isn't surplus production after all.

    Some anglers might still be opposed to harvesting of wild steelhead even from healthy populations. There is a valid reason for opposing it. Compare a healthy steelhead population with the Yellowstone cutthroat trout population. Yellowstone cutthroat have been CNR since 1973, which restored the declining health of the population. Harvest could be allowed, but the fishery is so popular that fishing would have to be greatly restricted to prevent over-harvest. Continuance of the CNR regulations in YNP has allowed the development of an intensive high quality trout fishery that maximizes angler days each year without harming the abundance and productivity of the trout population. A similar choice could be made with a healthy wild steelhead population, if we had any and didn't have to abide by the treaty tribes' preference for MSH, which by evidence invariably leads to depressed salmonid populations (but that's another topic).

    Mr. Bellows,

    The conflicted data appears to exist more in your mind than in scientific laboratories. The genetic study reports on steelhead that I've seen all appear straight forward and logical, with no confusion to me. I suppose that makes me an "elitist egghead scientist." I'm not searching for sportsman unity, as that appears to be an impossible goal, even if it were logical. I search for the truth and will go wherever it leads me.

    Irafly,

    Your question is a good one. The special "bonk a hatchery steelhead" regulations on the mid-C are the result of NMFS' requirements for allowing sport fishing where co-mingled ESA endangered steelhead occur. Does it make sense? That depends on who you ask and it depends on what the management objective is.

    I've written that the preponderance of mid-C wild steelhead are the product of natural reproduction by hatchery origin steelhead. One point of view says that managers should be free to do what they wish and go on their merry way. However the prevailing legal opinion which controls our actions says differently. The ESA requires that we attempt to recover natural self-sustaining salmon and steelhead in those mid-C tribs whether it is logical to your or me or even whether it is probably or possible. We have to try to do it, sayeth the court of law.

    The "badness" of hatchery fish co-mingling with wild steelhead is not black and white when evaluated on a social as well as ecological basis. For example, hatchery steelhead have been stocked in the Skagit River in large numbers for over 50 years. That is more than enough time to have a significant impact on the wild population, yet the wild fish remain incredibly intact despite being swamped with hatchery fish. In some genetic sample groups, 27% of the wild fish exhibit some hatchery genetic introgression. And in other groups, there is zero hatchery introgression in the wild fish. And the introgression value falls in between in the remaining groups. The existence of introgression may be limiting the productivity of some of the wild steelhead, but it may worth that ecological cost to have enjoyed the social benefits of a half century of fishing for hatchery steelhead, especially back in the years when they were quite abundant. Now that hatchery steelhead returns are so poor, and the wild population is extremely depressed, one could argue that the social benefits no longer outweigh the ecological risk to the remaining wild population. I doubt there is just one "right" answer.

    I like your take on enforcement. I favor adopting regulations that lead to the most desired ecological and socio-economic outcome. Even if that includes regulations that are difficult to impossible to enforce, because I believe that most of the people follow most of the rules most of the time. And the ones who don't, probably don't anytime they think they can get away with it. LE doesn't like regulations that they deem unenforceable for fairly obvious reasons. They prefer black-and-white easy to enforce regulations because their jobs are difficult enough under the best circumstances, and conviction rate matters in their profession. I think regulations can also serve a public education role and help define social acceptability.

    Sg
     
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  2. freestoneangler

    freestoneangler Not to be confused with Freestone

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    I'm sure he would have responded on his own, but appreciates you standing in for him. Where is the undisputed data showing that the majority of wild steelhead are not from hatchery stock origin? He made the statement; "the preponderance of the available steelhead genetic information shows that native, wild steelhead, lacking hatchery introgression, remain quite common through their range in Puget Sound, the WA coast, and the lower Columbia River tributaries?

    I asked the question about how common and in what percentages of total fish returning do these fish represent...are we talking 1%, 10%, 30%...do you know?

    The few studies I have read on this issue are laced with the words; may, could, it is possible, suggests and the heavily favored estimated.

    Mathematical models built on layers of estimates is what it is and leaves lots of room for discussion/debate as to what is considered "factual".
     
  3. Charles Sullivan

    Charles Sullivan dreaming through the come down

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    Although I don't believe that science will overcome Freestone's faith based interperation. I'll try and dig up some studies for the benefit of the massses. I know what he Skagit (PS) data showed and what the Cowlitz (lower C) study showed I'm not sure either are available on-line. I'll see what I can do to change that.

    I don't post here for personal gratfication. I post here to help the average fisherman determine what he/she tinks should happen based on the best available science. Honestly, I'd be playing crazy 8's with my ladies if I didn't see the value of an educated group of anglers. I'll look up some studies again and hopefully we can all agree on sanity.

    I'll need a couple days but for all he lurkers...please stay tuned. You may learn something.


    Go Sox,
    cds
     
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  4. Irafly

    Irafly Active Member

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    As a consumate learner, I look forward to the facts as we know them now versus second hand knowledge. Thanks for taking the time Charles.

    On a side note, Charles I really think you and freestone need to fish with each other. I'll set it up and play mediator, mostly because I'm arrogant enough to believe I'd make a good non biased judge. You two should share fishing stories and at the same time talk about politics and the like. I would love to be in the same boat. I'll row.
     
  5. Salmo_g

    Salmo_g Active Member

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    FSA,

    I answered your questions as best I could. If you're looking for absolute certainty, you should stick to physics and chemistry. Biological studies, outside of a controlled environment laboratory, don't yield results in the terms you appear to be seeking. The best you're going to read in a fisheries study is that a result has a 95% or 99% probability of being correct. Natural variability has a way of obstructing the perfection you apparently require.

    As for reading the results of a steelhead genetics study, you most likely wouldn't like it. Chambers Creek hatchery steelhead have certain measured alleles within a certain range. Skagit steelhead have those same alleles in different proportions. When the proportions in wild Skagit steelhead veer in the direction observed in Chambers Creek fish, we say that introgression has occurred. Please understand that since both stocks of steelhead are the same species of fish, they share a vast majority of the same genetic material - much as humans and apes share most of the same genetic code - so we're looking at slight variations in specific enzymes to detect genetic differences that identify particular stocks of fish as genetically distinct populations.

    Or you can go with your gut feeling that a fish is a fish is a fish and think they are all the same. But you would be wrong.

    Sg
     
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  6. Chris Bellows

    Chris Bellows Your Preferred WFF Poster

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    my post was meant in jest... sorry you had to waste time responding to my attempt at humor. continue banging your head against the wall in any discussion with freestoneangler. i'm choosing kerry's way rather than actually expect any response to requests for any of his "conflicting data" on the negative impacts of hatchery steelhead.
     
  7. Charles Sullivan

    Charles Sullivan dreaming through the come down

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    My time is valuable. Politics comes down to who's language you associate with and little else (policy icluded). My time away from the girls is spent with those that I feel have something to offer. Otherwise, I'd rather sleep in with the hottie I married. Thanks anyhow.



    Go sox,
    cds
     
  8. Irafly

    Irafly Active Member

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    I can wait until you retire :). I didn't really think it would happen, but worth a shot because I am also a deep seatededly optimistic.
     
  9. Charles Sullivan

    Charles Sullivan dreaming through the come down

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    I used to also think ... I can't wait until I retire. My girls are so much fun though. I love where I am at. They are so much fun.

    Go Sox,
    cds
     
  10. Charles Sullivan

    Charles Sullivan dreaming through the come down

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    http://wdfw.wa.gov/publications/01388/wdfw01388.pdf

    Here is a good one for the Cowlitz. I can not think of a river that has been stocked as aggressively as the Cowlitz. The study shows a genetically distinct population of winter wild fish. There is some introgression, mostly in the earlier timed fish (surprise!). This one was done by those hatchery haters at WDFW.

    I have to work but there are a few other studies that I should be able to find.

    Go Sox,
    cds
     
  11. KerryS

    KerryS Ignored Member

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    "Truth is a river that is always splitting up into arms that reunite. Islanded between the arms the inhabitants argue for a lifetime as to which is the main river." ~ Cyril Connolly

    Every once in awhile you need to float down to the next island........................
     
  12. Charles Sullivan

    Charles Sullivan dreaming through the come down

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    Doesn't look like the Skagit study has been published yet. I've seen the data though and it shows a completely seperate wild stock with little introgression outside of the Cascade. It's super clear, just unpublished as of now. That study was done by a group of agencies including those hatchery hating tribes.

    Go sox,
    cds
     
  13. hookedonthefly

    hookedonthefly Active Member

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    It is my understanding there was further review of the data collected and the rate of introgression may come out higher than initially thought. It is also sounded to me like a small trib or two posted at or higher than that 27% number initially thought. Looking forward to seeing the published paper.
     
  14. Charles Sullivan

    Charles Sullivan dreaming through the come down

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    Good to know Ed. I say the presentation well over a year ago. Seems like the work is ongoing. I sure would like to be the guy collecting samples.

    Go Sox,
    cds
     
  15. freestoneangler

    freestoneangler Not to be confused with Freestone

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    Thank you for that candid, honest response Salmo-g. Please know I am not knocking you and your colleagues efforts to use the best methods available to help understand and improve fisheries. From your posts in this and many other threads, it's clear you know much more about fisheries science than me and, I would venture to guess, the majority on the forum.

    Feelings on this subject are deep rooted and go back for many years. The more time folks spend trying to understand details, beyond the personal and politically charged, can only help assure the best decisions are made -- regardless of which path it takes. So, despite some of the grenades being tossed back and forth, threads like this have value.
     
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