Hatchery strays deplete wild steelhead

Discussion in 'Steelhead' started by Chris Johnson, Dec 8, 2010.

  1. Chris Johnson

    Chris Johnson Member: Native Fish Society

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  2. Stewart

    Stewart Skunk Happens

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    The more I learn, the more I wonder what the fishing will be like in 30 years. Too many folks just don't give a shit. The thing that really churns my gut is a lot of them are fishermen.
     
  3. Old Man

    Old Man Just an Old Man

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    I have always wondered about fish being hatched. If two Steelhead are born, one is a cement pond and one in a stream. What is different about them. They both have the same genes. They were born out of a native at some time in their lives. Then they swim out to sea and spent anywhere from two years to three years out in the salt. Then they return to their native stream. The urge to spawn is in them both. Why can't they mate??

    Maybe I'm just dense. Because I really haven't got anybody explain it to me in terms that I can understand. Being born in a cement pond doesn't change their genes. SO why are they different.
     
  4. Rob Allen

    Rob Allen Active Member

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    because they can't think beyond their next bent rod
     
  5. stilly stalker

    stilly stalker Tuna sniffer

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    hatchery stock are more oten than not originating from stock not naive to the stream, therefore they do not posess the genetic traits most suited to surviving that streams challenges

    hatchery fish spawned and reared in cement ponds do not learn how to survive in a stream ecosystem and have a harder time keying on natural prey items, and have a harder time learning how to maximize holding water. These fish often hold near the surface of the stream in the open, faster water, expending more energy, decreasing optimal fitness and making them easier for predators to target.

    One thing I will say, is that many winter hatchery fish enter the rivers in december/january close to being ready to spawn, while many of the natives do not spawn until april to early june, so I would believe that the later contingency of wild spawning fish are more genetically pure than those that spawn earlier in the year, and less affected by hatchery fish

    No hatchery seems willing to experiment with the release of unfed fry into streams to see if survival rates go up. Also, most hatcheries release their smolts AFTER their optimal smolting window, likely increasing residualizaton, and decreasing return rates of anadromous fish.

    As far as competition for food goes, there is definitely truth in it, but considering the carrying capacity the streams used to have, 40,000 hatchery smolts is a drop in the bucket. The NF Stilly used to get 60,000 to 90,000 steelhead back yearly, meaning there were maybe 500,000 or more smolts raised in and leaving that small river yearly, and the ecosystem didnt have an issue supporting that number of fish.

    Im not a fan of hatchery management as it is today. I still think that the infrastructure it provides can do some good for natve fish reestablishment if different practices were implemented.
     
  6. Gary Thompson

    Gary Thompson dirty dog

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    I look at this like "spilled milk"
    We, as in man messing with environment, has been going on as is said in the lit. for 150 years.
    Even if "we" stopped using hatcheries today it will take hundreds of life times to get back to "normal"
    So, O.K. all the wild rivers in the PNW will no longer get stocking of hatchery fish.
    All wild rivers in the PNW will be C&R only and no commercial fishing in or around the mouths of these wild rivers that drain into the salt.
    O.K. are there really any true wild rivers that drain into the salt? Not many I bet.
    So, again we have spilled a gallon and are now trying to save 5 gallons.
    I do agree that there needs to be change and just who is going to be in charge of that change? $$$$$$
     
  7. Don Freeman

    Don Freeman Free Man

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    The problem is that hatchery reproduction narrows the gene pool, and selects for different traits. In natural reproduction, native fish return over a period of weeks or months, depending on conditions, and their own built in clock. This creates diversity in offspring, and passes on a wide range of traits that promote survival in the wild. The RUN of fish is therefor more resilient, and will survive small challenges to the population, like mudslides, because more fish spawned both before and after an event.

    In a hatchery, humans may produce the same quantity of fry from eggs, but the fish are all collected over a short period of time because it's more efficient and less labor intensive than collecting a few fish for eggs and sperm throughout the return. This practice narrows the population dramatically, and abruptly. What's more, the fish produced are those best adapted to being produced under factory conditions, which can include traits like being docile enough to not be damaged by banging around in cement ponds. In each generation, the gene pool is narrowed yet again by this practice. Eventually, they're screwing their sisters.

    Another factor one of the guys mentioned, is that the stock introduced to a river may come from a completely different area, and not have the genes required to flourish in the new drainage, due to return timing, and other factors. If allowed onto the redds, these fish may be able to mate with wild stock, but do not pass on the the best genes for long term health of the run.

    I realize that there are a lot of guys on the forum with more expertise than me on these issues, but this is my simplified version of some of the main issues with hatchery supplementation, and leaves out the expense, vulnerability to disease in the factory, and a lot of other reasons that hatcheries are an artificial, short term "solution" to declining populations.

    Jim, this is they way it's been explained to me, so forgive me if I'm over simplifying, I don't want tot sound like I'm talking down to anyone on the forum, but this is how it biologists explained the issue to a PE major so I could understand.
     
  8. gt

    gt Active Member

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    interesting question gary and one which we cannot honesty answer. once the columbia was populated with smolt from the mccloud river way back when, its been downhill ever since.

    the studies on wild populations suggest that return rates are between 3-5% while hatchery pond raised are <1%. there has also been some interesting work done with spawning stream raised fish as opposed to pond raised fish. in a spawning stream, they have to deal with current, turbidity and finding something to eat as the food suplementation is about a third of that handed out in the ponds. survival rates for these fish is greater that pond rasied but still less than naturally occurring but rearing costs escellate dramatically.

    why do hatchery fish have trouble spawing successfully?? i don't know the answer to that old man but it is well documented. and keep in mind that successful wild to hatchery dilutes the gene pool even further while failed hatchery to wild spawing decreases the number of outbound smolt by a significant number meaning far fewer outbound fish, about 60% less.

    how long would a recovery take without hatcheries? again a question that can't be answered directly but only infered from the data which are available. so consider that wild fish would be depositing eggs that survive a a rate of 2 to 3 times those of hatchery fish. now multiple the greater returns of wild fish vs hatchery fish, multiply again by the number of surviving eggs and what you get is a steep curve indicitaing that the numbers would be significantly greater than if the hatchery programs were not continued.

    survival is the key here and it has been demonstrated sixteen ways from sunday that the hatchery pond raised fish can't cut it in an environment where they don't have a pellet machine to rely upon.

    the dungness hatchery is currently spawning coho. they take about 60 pairs of fish a week over a 6 week interval, thats all the eggs they can handle. now how many eggs would have been fertalized and burried by the total populaiton of returning wild fish over that same span of time? i would suggest tens of thousands more scattered over a wild range of habitat all competing for food with one another. darwin would be back at work making certain that the outbound fish were the healthiest, strongest and most likely to survive. the hatchery is all about numbers and lowering costs, sort of non equal objectives. then consider the tens of BILLIONS of dollars already flushed down the toilet on the columbia r. with hatchery suplementation. we are no were closer to restoring those runs then we were back when grand coulee shut off the upper river and the columbia 'hogs'.

    hatcheries are all about put and take for the commercial industry, that is the driving force, always has been since the mccloud fish went into the depleated columbia, always will be the fight that must be addressed. but, as all of us know, no one is willing to step up to do battle.
     
  9. inland

    inland Active Member

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    Old Man,

    All dogs have the same 'genes'. Yet some are breed for different purposes. Think toy poodle and labs. Same genes. Slightly different genetic code. Different characteristics. Different behavior.

    Hatchery fish are breed to be successful in a hatchery environment. The process selects for this type of fish. No matter what we do when you interfere with the mate selection process and pressures that shape the fish which survive (from egg to adult) you end up with 10# housedogs when you need 75# water dogs. Same genes. Same species. Different traits.

    When you keep adding poodles by the millions and millions to the wild they don't do so well at surviving. They weren't breed to survive in the wild. They were breed to survive in a concrete raceway.

    After <1% of these hatchery 'smolts' return as adults some of them will try to breed in the wild with wild steelhead. Passing on concrete selected traits.
    And they are a hell of lot more successful at passing on these traits than WDFW (or any state management agency) wants you to know. The problem is when they pass on these traits in the wild their progeny do not survive. Meaning that everytime a hatchery steelhead breeds with a wild steelhead they have effectively blocked that wild steelhead from furthering the population. They have wiped out thousands of years of very river specific genetic code minutia that has been shaped by the very environment it will be most successful in.

    Hatchery steelhead are a fool's errand.

    Gary,

    Hatchery steelhead traits do not survive in any number in the wild. After decades of hatchery introgression the wild fish remain quite pure. The argument of 'well its already ruined so lets keep ruining it' is false. Breed out of the desire to make sure we keep producing hatchery fish to catch. Because we have been conditioned to believe this is the only way you will ever fish (or kill fish) today or into the future. That wild fish will never be strong enough in numbers to survive even C&R fishing. Let alone direct harvest. In some cases yes this is right. But not everywhere. The majority of the money you spend on your fishing license/kill card goes to hatchery production. Stop wasting millions on these fish and invest it into habitat.

    William
     
  10. orangeradish

    orangeradish Bobo approved

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    This makes me want to bonk a hatchery poodle.
     
  11. Old Man

    Old Man Just an Old Man

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    Maybe we ought to do this with humans. That way we can weed out the dumb shits.
     
  12. David Dalan

    David Dalan 69°19'15.35" N 18°44'22.74" E

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    The paper seems slightly disingenious. I get the impression the results of different salmonid studies are being mixed and selectively interpreted. I recall that at least one long term study found little if any ingression of hatchery steelehead genes into wild populations. As noted above, and I'm certainly not an authority as to why, hatchery origin steelhead seem to fail at spawning. And when they do succed in spawning, their progeny don't seem to fair well enough to reproduce. So while there is a potential to interfere in wild steelhead spawning, it's minimal. I think a read once that they often don't even try.

    Other salmonids are a different story all together. I think the wild spawning rates for hatchery reared Chinook and Coho are much higher. In fact in many reintroduction programs (Umatilla Coho and Walla Walla Chinook come to mind) it's this ability of artifically spawned salmon to reproduce in the wild that has made the reintroductions successful.

    I'm not sure the results of other similar programs with Endemic Steelhead, but the paper (and my rememberer) seem to indicate they are less successful.

    So the impacts of hatcheries, thier usefulness at restoring naturally reproducing populations (naturally reproducing, not necessarily native) seems to vary widely by species, basin and objective.

    The first sign of lazy science (IMO) is a call for any kind of blanket, one size fits all policy. It smells like policy objectives are being adopted and then data is being gathered and interpreted to support those objectives (bad idea) rather than evidnece being used to craft policy (better idea).

    Anyhow...just one old ug tossers opinion :)

    There are certainly places hatcheries don't belong. But this matter (to hatch or not to hatch) is a multifaceted issue and involves lots of cultural, economic, legal and philispohical elements.
     
  13. Olive bugger

    Olive bugger Active Member

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    Hey, wait a minute Old Man. Us dumb shits might object.

    I guess I am a little dense, but I suspect that the genetic code of the fish is a factor, but I also
    wonder about the environment issues. We have silted the rivers to a horrible degree with our lumber and development practices. Fishing from commercial, sport and tribal groups have also taken a toll. Nets do a lot of harm, but illegal fishing practices don't help. Nobody knows what perils exist in the salt.

    I see signs of don't eat farm fish, but I would rather see farm fish on the dinner tables than wild fish. Even C&R makes a dent in the numbers.

    I personally believe that a moratorium on ALL fishing practices for two life cycles on a give body of water would go a long way to improving the situation. I doubt that it would cure the problem or if the folks in charge would be willing to do such a thing, but the fish would probably do better for it. I believe that if it is good for the fish, it is good for the fisherperson.
     
  14. gt

    gt Active Member

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    its only farmed raised atlantic salmon. whether you are aware of not, SLICE, a pesticide not approved for use in food by the USDA, is used to treat the lice infections of ALL of these pen raised salmon. how they get imported into this country is beyond me, but the do. so if you are eating pen raised atlantic salmon, you are also injesting SLICE, happy days............

    now couple that factoid with the other negative impacts of pen raised atlantic salmon and you might see where the objections are pointing: louse infected outboud salmon; ever drive past a stock feed lot? now think of what is under these floating pens; no the ocean does not flush this fecal material, it sits there, the pens are placed in calm water for a reason; escapees from these pens are common place and do try to propogate, a non native species competing for ever decreasing habitat.............

    a long list pointing fingers at pen raised atlantic salmon.
     
  15. Old Man

    Old Man Just an Old Man

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    I got it I think. Not to sure about anything anymore. I guess it pays to be a little dumb. But I'm a happy dumb person.
     
  16. bennysbuddy

    bennysbuddy the sultan of swing

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    I like the way you think!:rofl::rofl::rofl::rofl::rofl:
     
  17. Steve Call

    Steve Call Active Member

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    A huge amount of information here. I'm overwhelmed and wanting to learn more. For now I have at least two questions: 1) What is the solution? Close all hatcheries AND close all forms of fishing indefinitely until the natural runs reach some level of sustainability? Given environmental degradation on so many levels is that even possible? 2) Many of the problems identified seem to be with hatchery operations such as introducing fish from other rivers and harvesting brood stock over a short period of time which reduces diversity. Is any work being done to address how hatcheries operate and to see if the various issues that reduce the viability of hatchery stock can be overcome with better techniques and practices?

    I guess I have one last question: If I care about the resource, should I quit fishing for salmon and especially steelhead?
     
  18. Gary Thompson

    Gary Thompson dirty dog

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    What I would like to see is this.
    Stop the commercial fishing for the salmon and steel head.
    Stop the hatchery programs for all the rivers in the PNW that still have some type of fish bypass.
    Stop the housing development along the shore lines of the PNW rivers remove the flood control dams, unproductive Hydro electric dams, etc. etc. etc.
    Looks like a lot of work at a huge cost.
    Inch by inch won't get it done.
    I'm not a doom and gloom kinda guy.
    Something needs to be done, recovery has to start somewhere.
    I say pick a spot and start.
    Commercial fishing would be my starting point. This includes the tribes also.
     
  19. James Mello

    James Mello Inventor of the "closed eye conjecture"

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    Environmental selection (aka domestication selection). Fish that do well in natural environments get selected for (i.e. survive better) in natural environments. These same genes also allow these fish to spawn more successfully and have higher egg to parr, parr to smolt and smolt to adult survival. Fish that do well in hatcheries get selected because they do well in hatcheries. They typically have better parr to smolt survival in a *hatchery* environment. In addition, in hatchery environments, the selection of mates is either random, or based on some size distribution. Because these fish may not have been selected in a natural setting, they *are* included in the total hatchery output. This selection over even a single generation reduces overall fitness for fish in *natural environments* and increases fitness for *hatchery environments*. The genes that apply to these conditions are in the same fish. It's just a question on how which ones are selected for over time.
     
  20. James Mello

    James Mello Inventor of the "closed eye conjecture"

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    They have actually tried to do this with hatch boxes in creeks. It was a dismal failure...
     

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