Discussion in 'Steelhead' started by Chris Johnson, Dec 8, 2010.
I like the way you think!:rofl::rofl::rofl::rofl::rofl:
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?
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.
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.
They have actually tried to do this with hatch boxes in creeks. It was a dismal failure...
agreed! I think commercial harvest shutdown is the best place to start, followed with more spawning habitat restortion. No more 1/2 million dollar log jam construction in the main stem of rivers, lets think smaller tribs and feeder streams where logging and development have taken a toll, and start reducing siltation, scour, and create some deeper pools that hold water even in the warmest summers! Planting more native vegetation to shade and cool the water and help shade out japanese knotweed and reed canary grass would be the next step after some structure is created. Salmonids have proven very resilient, and if they actually had places to spawn and rear as young we would start to see some positive results
Oddly enough, the Chambers creek stocks have been a relative savior of wild fish. While early run components have been wiped out, the chambers creek fish return early and have a *very* small amount of success spawning in the wild. Places that integrated broodstocks do have some issues related to W/H matings reducing wild fitness. How much I don't know. But if you want to learn more, take a look at the HSRG. You'll learn the differences and it should give you a clearer picture on why integrated programs are pretty bad overall, and segregated programs aren't quite as bad (for wild fish).
As far as I am concerned this is a red herring used to deflect the real problem. Over harvest of wild fish by all involved.
No commercial, ceremonial, no C&R, NO fishing on wild stocks in any conceivable manner is what is needed.
Remove those factors out of the studies and then re-evaluate. Get the politics out of the equation!
All research is funded by someone who has an interest in the results and that is a fact. That is the reason for conflicting results and opinions. Statistics can be massaged and manipulated to create nearly any point of view, that is statistics 101!
Hatchery fish are a smoke screen! Yes they may have an adverse effect but not nearly what over harvest does to the runs. It is a scam! Focus on hatchery fish and ignore the over harvest. It has been going on for a long time and people keep buying into the BS! "The hatchery fish are the devil" but over harvest is pushed down and ignored or pushed in the back ground.
The simple fact is, if wild fish are continually targetted and removed from the system then they will go away.
Hatcheries aren't a red herring as much as they are the actual problem. I fail to see one positive effect from hatcheries on wild fish populations. There just isn't one.
Now in the case of harvest, which every one loves to hate. Hatcheries are the main cause/ excuse for that.
W/o hatcheries, the Skagits would not be netting the Skagit as we speak. It is easy to justify the elimination of those hatchery fish by non-descriminant nets. It's pretty hard to justify netting listed fish that are not projected to meet minimum escapement. No hatchery = no nets.
There are hatchery fish targeting net fisheries all over the state that kill wild fish from the Columbia to the OP to the PS. Without the hatcheries those nets go away. This is really fucking simple, people, if you do your homework and put the fish first. If you don't like the nets, eliminate the hatcheries.
The one clear exception is the OP wild fish native netting (because they sometimes meet escapement). Out of curiosity, does anyone know how many brats come back to the Quinalt? That's a monstrosity of piss poor fish management. Given that we have no idea of the interaction or effects of brat.'s on wild fish once they hit salt water, it's important to compare nubers. Is there any logical reason to believe that those fish aren't eliminating wild fish from other rivers once they hit the salt. I have spoken with many bio.'s. None of them know and most won't speak to it. Overall, we manage fisheries as thogh there is no efffect.
Often I hear people say, "hatcheries have there place in recovery" or something to that effect. I honestly have no idea what the fuck that place is. Eliminate nates when they spawn? Creating the opportunity for gill net fisheries? Create opportunities for sport angling with associated C&R mortalities? They don't bring back runs.....ever. What is their role?
Oh and they are really expensive.
Please excuse my French. I'm just constantly baffled by the shear stupidity represented by steelhead hatcheries. They have no place. They have no time. They are stupid. Their supporters clearly don't care enough to read.
As others have noted, hatcheries do three things that are pretty obvious. First, because they use a limited number of parents, far fewer than would be spawning naturally, there is less genetic diversity (fewer alleles = fewer alternative ways of making a protein) among hatchery fish. Second, the process of selecting brood stock is relatively random, right place and right time = spawning regardless of the qualities that would be successful in the wild. For pair-spawning fish like salmonids in wild, there is substantial competition for the right to mate and the fish with the better combination of alleles should spawn in the better locations with better mates. Third, the types of selective pressure (who lives/dies, grows well/grows poorly) on genetically-inherited traits is hugely different in a hatchery vs. a wild environment. In theory, a population of wild smolts should have a) more genetic options (more genetic diversity) to fluctuating environments, b) better combinations of alleles, and c) better alleles for a wild environment. And they will have more experience (more appropriate behaviors) in the river and at sea.
OMJ asked if there were a way that being in a hatchery may change a fish's genes; there isn't a known mechanism for that but being in a hatchery may change how genes are controlled (turned on or off) a topic called epigenetics. Just because a cell has a specific gene does not mean that the gene will be turned on (used for the production of a specific protein). For example, a muscle cell has the gene for making digestive enzymes, but that gene is turned off. There is growing evidence that the environment plays a significant role in determining which genes are turned on or off and once the switch is flipped, it may remain flipped for several generations. It is reasonable to expect that the hatchery environment may switch on (or off) a very different set of genes than does the natural environment. And these changes may echo over several generations even if a hatchery fish does try to spawn in the wild. This could explain the very poor success of the offspring of hatchery x hatchery or hatchery x wild fish in the wild, even if the alleles are the same as a wild x wild fish.
Then another question begs to be asked............Why do the hatchery dogs appear to be populating the rivers of Chile and creating runs that never existed? Can hatchery fish clean up the genes and revert back to wild if left alone by man over a period of time?
Invasive species, which is what the salmon and steelhead and brown trout are in Chile and Argentine, often take multiple rounds of introductions (release, die-off, repeat) until they are finally successfully established. Once they reach critical mass, they should be self-sustaining. Here are some possible factors. There are no significant anadromous fishes in those rivers, therefore little competition for resources (one wonders about competition in the ocean...). This means that even a mediocre fish is likely survive. Second, those rivers are relatively pristine, some ranching and logging, but not much hydropower; again, even a mediocre fish is likely to survive. Third, there has been a huge investment in pen-reared salmonids in Chile, Atlantic salmon, steelhead, and chinook; we know there are escapes. By chance some of the escapes were successful. And, whatever epigenetic switches are flipped in one generation of hatchery exposure, their effects will wear off, if only because those individuals who can access the genes that best enable them to survive will leave more offspring and because the epigenetic effects are not permanent. More speculation on my part than experience with the ecology / evolution of these South American invaders.
in chile escaped fish in relatively large numbers are returning to nearby rivers and spawning. Those progeny are definitely well adapted to those rivers now, as is plain to see from the succss of the fishing down there. Nature finds a way to adapt organisms to the environment.Little commercial fishing pressure on these fish maximizes returns to the rivers, and lack of predation has definitely helped keep those spawning fish relatively safe once in fresh water.
In time, the runs that return now will become even more genetically distinct from each other, and you will definitely see a diversification of alleles that allow these fish to perform best in their natal sreams. Comparing this occurrence to what is happenin with our steelhead and salmon is difficult, because there is no native salmonid displacement occurring from these fish entering the river systems. I am not educated enough on the native fish in the rivers there to comment on overall negative impact to the ecosystem in general, but I bet that opportunistic predators learned quickly how easy half dead salmon are to utilize as food, and are now changing thousands of year old behavior patterns to take advantage.
Since there are so many different salmonids down there now, those best suited for each river are prevailing, while those less fit are present in far fewer numbers or abesnt from the system all together. Its really interesting to compare what rivers these stray origiated fish are returning to, and why they return to these, and not other rivers. I would LOVE to do some serious research there to determine exactly what it is that is drivingthis selection
I am most curious to know the migration paths of these south american fish. Are they migrating NORTH to mingle with their brethren? Or more likely are they utilizing cold southern currents, more untouched by open ocean commercial fleets?
the multiple round introduction/die off cycle is easily perpetuated by the destruction of the commercial net pen operations, cotinually releasing more fish to potentially find a river to call their own.