Discussion in 'Steelhead' started by jessejames, Nov 25, 2004.
You hit the nail on the head with that, particularly the last sentence!
In the case of the Idaho hatchery steelhead, at least part of the motivation for not marking all the fish is to "reserve" those fish for the Nez Perce terminal-fishery, not necessarily to allow those fish to spawn naturally. This has been going on for several years. The Nez Perce won a suit against NOAA that allows them to release unmarked fish as long as NOAA continues to tolerate current dam operations on the Snake and Columbia. The court said that NOAA could not apply a double standard against the Nez Perce and their hatchery. NOAA didn't have to allow the hatchery practices; it could have cracked down on the dams. They took the path of least resistance, never mind what was best for the resource.
There is no evidence that any hatchery program is better than any other, including the so-called "supplementation" programs. Last year the BPA's Independent Science Advisory Board released a report on all the "supplementation" programs in the Columbia Basin. They found no evidence that any of the programs contribute anything positive to wild populations, and plenty of suggestion that they actually harm wild fish. In fact they found that none of the programs is even being run in a way where you could determine what it's effects really are, or even whether the hatchery was meeting its own goals, for conservation or fisheries. In general, the ISAB found the programs poorly run in almost all regards. It implicitly suggested a moratorium on any new supplementation programs until the problems could be reconciled.
Any credible supplementation effort would REQUIRE the marking of the hatchery fish. The program managers need solid data to determine rather accuratley the relative percentages of hatchery-origin and natural-origin returning adults used for hatchery brood-stock, and the ratios of hatchery fish and natural fish on the natural spawning grounds. You can't do that without some kind of mark (it doesn't have to be an ad-clip, but to do the spawning-ground surveys, you need a visual mark). You can't just release a whole bunch of hatchery fish into the wild and hope for the best. Of course, that is the way many current programs are run (which is what the ISAB found so troubling).
Just calling a hatchery a "supplementation" or "conservation" program doesn't make it less damaging. In fact, as the ISAB and many other independent researchers have found, these programs can be even more dangerous than the old-fashioned fishery-enhancement programs, where managers at least attempt to segregate the hatchery fish from the naturally spawning wild fish. In most cases they do a piss poor job of it, but at least the unfit hatchery fish are not MEANT to spawn with the wild fish, which are already facing enough stress from habitat damage and overfishing.
I don't know if the Nez Perce program is screwing anglers. If they come up with a scheme that keeps me from retaining the steelhead that they produce for their own fishery with their own money (for a moment, consider the tax dollars they use as reparations), I'm not sure that's exactly perfidy. I do believe the program is certainly screwing the last of the wild steelhead in the upper Snake drainage.
I believe the Elwha Indians don't mark their fish so that they will be released if caught at sea and make it back to their hatchery. Seems as if they are using the good will of the sporstmen to release so-called wild fish for their own advantage. Has a bad odor all this.
Bob, the Thanks Ray, for your input. :thumb:
I think you are getting close with the bad odor remark bob....