Steelhead Hatchery Programs Violate ESA

Discussion in 'Steelhead' started by Andrew Lawrence, Jan 24, 2014.

  1. I'm not sure which way I lean on this. It may be a short sighted view, but I am afraid that with no hatchery plants a lot of rivers would be closed. I fish some under performing hatchery steelhead runs, but at least it gives me an opportunity to fish.
    Salmo_g and doublespey like this.
  2. After the 1980 eruption of St. Helens the Toutle River was destroyed. Yet in only 5 years after the eruption, wild steelhead were returning. In 1987, returns to the Toutle exceeded what many thought wasn't possible pre eruption. The neighboring Kalama River with a big ol' hatchery connected had 248 steelhead return, just 22% of escapement. The destroyed Toutle returned 2,588 wild steelhead. To help out Mother Nature, a hatchery was placed on the Toutle. In a few short years returns were back to "normal" and escapement was similar to that of the Kalama. This info was taken from The Flyfish Journal volume 3.2. That hatchery steelhead I'm holding in my picture cost you about $2,700 in tax dollars for me to catch. THANK YOU!!!

    As a heads up, I bonked the shit out of that vile creature in my photo and removed it from the ecosystem just before it spawned. I'm doing what I can to help!

    Get to know the 4H's, harvest, hatcheries, hydro and habitat. Selective harvest, close the hatcheries, bust the damns and restore the habitat...problem solved. Don't do what has happened on the Elwha, bust a damn and build a hatchery! Of course it depends on who you are. Hatcheries provide jobs and BIG $ to the rez.
  3. Vile creature, bonk the shit out of...really? The genetic difference between it and the un-clipped version is, well, nothing. That fish still provided you sport and a picture. I've let plenty of clipped fish go over the years. A $2700 fish caught 10x is only $270... just another way to think about it.

    Agree on missing opportunities like the Elwah. Putting a hatchery on that river is absolutely insane. The Elwah and perhaps a couple of other rivers should be used to test how well natural reproduction only will work within the existing system (not just the river itself). Close them down to all fishing, set-up a solid monitoring plan and let the fish do their thing.
  4. Yes, my vernacular was over the top, however if you catch a hatchery fish...remove it from the gene pool. Steelhead sells for $7.99 per lbs at the local store, yet another way to look at it.

    I am not a meathead trumping around the forest who only gets his jollies in bonking fish as if I were a guest on Hawg Quest. Or that I hold no reverence for the fish. Instead, respected conservationist groups suggest removing hatchery steelhead should the opportunity present itself.
  5. On the Hanford Reach of the Columbia, WDFW rules require retention of hatchery steelhead, and requires the release of wild fish.

    On the other hand, the limit of hatchery steelhead is just two fish, and this does not increase, in say, December, when fishermen effort drops dramatically, while the fish are maturing toward spawning. It seems to me that increasing hatchery fish limits after the bulk of fisherman effort has passed would be consistent with the apparent intent of the retention requirements to remove hatchery fish before they spawn.

    It has been interesting to read the posts in the steelhead forum and learn how differently various rivers are managed around the state.

  6. So lets look at the Skagit hatchery program shall we???

    December 2012 ( end of the year) hatchery return to marble mount 28 fish.. May 2013 ( end of the season ) count 198, I don't know if that includes the 28 from December or not but a max of 226
    I believe there is another hatchery there producing steelhead but they did not report in 2012 at any rate ( maybe I am wrong on this)

    here is how many fish were planted in 2009 Holy cow the plans was 229,000

    sorry that really shocked me as I am doing this on the fly...

    I am sorry but unless the marble mount hatchery is not reporting accurate return numbers the hatchery program for steelhead isn't worth the effort anyway...

    This is entirely unjustifiable regardless of whether there are impacts on wild fish or not. The hatchery should be closed based on it's lack of performance.
    David Dalan likes this.
  7. Rob,
    Your figures also do not include those fish that were harvested.
    The Marblemount facility is the only hatchery for the Skagit and if I remember correctly they only need 150 fish to get their egg take.

    Hatcheries are good at raising fish - not so good at teaching them how to survive outside the protected tank where manna no longer falls from the sky. :)

  8. Yes I realized harvest numbers are not indicated there but with only 200 returning to the hatchery I don't expect harvest numbers to be very high.. Based on returns to the hatchery vs harvest rates on other streams. WDFW seems to make it easy to find how many they plant but hard to find how many were harvested. it's pretty clear which numbers they want you to focus on..
    Phil Fravel and Chris Johnson like this.
  9. Salmo-g said something in another thread that really struck a cord with me, it was something like (never underestimate the power of the status-quo). This is why we need to use the legal system a times to push government to do things. The department is set up to operate inside the hatchery box, it has worked for them for a long time. Step outside that box and you're in danger of upsetting the apple cart, the system is not set up to deal with that and so it resists it mightily. Until we change the way the department operates, their mission so to speak, we'll continue to argue in circles until hatchery fish are all we have left.
  10. Current guidelines require hatcheries for there to be fishing seasons in many places. This makes those of us steelhead addicts also hatchery addicts. Look at the opposition to the elimination of hatchery plants on the E. Fork Lewis. We all want to fish, it's understandable that as long as the management paradigm requires hatchery fish for there to be fishing anglers will lobby to retain hatcheries.

    As far as interogression goes, I doubt there is much. The one thing that has been shown over and over is that chambers creek fish fail miserbly as wild spawners, even with wild mates. This really limits introgression. The issue as I see it with hatch fish is that some will spawn w/ wilds, essentially killing that wild fish. They allow for harvest fisheries, especially net fisheries. Additionally, their effects on wild fish in the sound and even the open water are just plain unknown. It's hard to come up with a scenario where they are positive.

    Lastly, with regards to PS hatcheries, they are a monumental waste of tax dollars if you look at the cost per fish. There is really no arguing this fact unless you just want to argue. What they do provide is the opportunity for me to fish, as they are the only acceptable reason for a season under the current management paradigm. For that I am pleased, even if I will only fish a couple of days this year in the United States. This is one reason I suport Occupy Skagit. It is a chance to show a new management approach that can be successful for fish and anglers alike.

    If the money spent on PS steelhead hatcheries was spent on habitat restoration and stock monitoring/ research the fish would be in a much better place. Unfortunately, at present that means no steelhead fishing in the Puget Sound, regardles of run sizes.

    Go Sox,

  11. Almost all hatcheries need to be closed or soon will be closed based on their return rates. Retard hatchery fish are coming back fewer and fewer. The current/old plan...Just plant more and more to make up for it. Now I believe the average return rate is getting less and less. So what do the idiots at WDFW and ODFW do??? They go after natives for brood stock.

    If Broodstock is the answer....Then they are openly admitting their hatchery programs have failed! Magically, if they raise smolts from wild parents the return rate jumps through the roof. Gee how does that happen?
  12. i've always felt like broodstocking should be a last resort like with hood canal summer chum. unfortunately the vast majority of steelhead brood stocking plans are harvest based which means they don't have an end date.... besides forever.

    plus, imo in most of our watersheds containing wild winter steelhead, wild fish are too valuable to be removed from the spawning population and turned into harvestable fish for the sportfishing industry. it is hubris to think that taking a wild fish out of a wild river and putting it in a concrete tank will improve the fishing experience or wild run size.

    broodstock hatchery plans for winter steelhead are almost exclusively promoted by guides, which makes me instantly skeptical of the reasoning. they are typically just another way of holding onto the failed hatchery mindset. there is no secret hatchery method that will magically save our wild fish, and no amount of praying or old ideas will make hatcheries into a solution.

    brood stock is for emergencies, because all it will do over time will be to move the entire wild population into the hatchery... plus we certainly do not need any more harvest pressure on wild fish as brood stock fish will have basically the same return timing as wild fish.

  13. Agreed! A Broodstock program is nothing more than raping wild ESA listed fish and wasting their offspring to fill the freezers of fishermen. ODFW has found out when they mix wild fish and grow their offspring in hatcheries, their survival rates double to triple. Now they have to try and communicate (blatantly lie) to the public that broodstock programs are the answer all our prayers. Why you say? Because hatcheries are failing miserably! Wait, isn't this what they told us about hatcheries way back when?
  14. I suggest you guys learn about the brood stock program on the Vedder. It is very tightly regulated and works well. It isn't like they simply mine the wild fish, spawn them, and raise them in the same system we use for Chambers fish.

    Fish are spawned on a pairing basis: one buck per one hen. Each pair is taken from a specific reach of the river by a sports angler and spawned. The juveniles are raised in many different locals, river side ponds, hatchery ponds to create as much diversity as possible. And most importantly they are raised in low density while in containment which means less disease and more autonomy. These smaller scale brood stock programs have much higher success rates per numbers released so you can release fewer juveniles and get better returns unlike our hatchery system.

    I am not all for brood stock. I am just saying that there are much MUCH better ways of doing hatchery fish than we do now. We raise fish for harvest, not to supplement wild populations. There is a difference.

    I foresee a day when we could have our c&r seasons back and have a chance at a 20# hatchery fish, albeit a remote one. How about a hatchery fish that doesn't return directly to the hatchery, is aggressive, but is a minuscule portion of the wild population? By minuscule I mean hardly any, but enough to keep our rivers open. Unfortunately, this will never happen in WA.
  15. sure would like to read more than the abstract, but cannot afford full access to the mentioned study.

    i hope the irrigator's study is accurate compared to the tribal study on hatchery chinook that was touted all over the web but was full of holes upon further review.
  16. A lot of suspicious politics are involved with that article. Find it very interesting that it is being cited and put on a "news bulletin" on the eve of hatchery elimination on certain streams in Washington. Here are a few more studies that one might consider in coming to their own conclusion on how wild and hatchery fish interact to help or hinder the health of wild populations.

    Ecological interactions between wild and hatchery salmonids: an introduction to the special issue

    Mechanisms influencing competition between hatchery and wild juvenile anadromous Pacific salmonids in fresh water and their relative competitive abilities

    Predation by hatchery yearling salmonids on wild subyearling salmonids in the freshwater environment: A review of studies, two case histories, and implications for management

    Risk management of non-target fish taxa in the Yakima River Watershed associated with hatchery salmon supplementation

    Ecological risk assessment of multiple hatchery programs in the upper Columbia watershed using Delphi and modeling approaches

    Lack of trophic competition among wild and hatchery juvenile chum salmon during early marine residence in Taku Inlet, Southeast Alaska

    Spatial and trophic overlap of marked and unmarked Columbia River Basin spring Chinook salmon during early marine residence with implications for competition between hatchery and naturally produced fish

    Wild chinook salmon survive better than hatchery salmon in a period of poor production

    Evidence for competition at sea between Norton Sound chum salmon and Asian hatchery chum salmon

    Perspectives on wild and hatchery salmon interactions at sea, potential climate effects on Japanese chum salmon, and the need for sustainable salmon fishery management reform in Japan

    Wild and hatchery reproduction of pink and chum salmon and their catches in the Sakhalin-Kuril region, Russia

    Some consequences of Pacific salmon hatchery production in Kamchatka: changes in age structure and contributions to natural spawning populations

    Breeding success of four male life history types of spring Chinook Salmon spawning in an artificial stream

    Rapid expansion of an enhanced stock of chum salmon and its impacts on wild population components

    Genetic differentiation between collections of hatchery and wild masu salmon (Oncorhynchus masou) inferred from mitochondrial and microsatellite DNA analyses

    Overview of salmon stock enhancement in southeast Alaska and compatibility with maintenance of hatchery and wild stocks

    Strategies for reducing the ecological risks of hatchery programs: Case studies from the Pacific Northwest

    An overview of salmon enhancement and the need to manage and monitor natural spawning in Hokkaido, Japan

    Understanding the adaptive consequences of hatchery-wild interactions in Alaska salmon

    Ecological interactions between wild and hatchery salmonids and key recommendations for research and management actions in selected regions of the North Pacific
    Andrew Lawrence and Jason Rolfe like this.
  17. I'm giving this a bump up in light of recent reposting of this issue.

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