Wild steelhead vs Native vs ?

Discussion in 'Steelhead' started by generic, Oct 28, 2011.

  1. generic

    generic Active Member

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    There is a river that I like to fish for steelhead that no longer is getting hatchery plants as of last spring. The reason is because of the inter breeding of the hatchery fish with the "wild/native" stock. I say stock, because it is just that. After many discussions and e-mails, it's been obvious that there is no real strain left of the wild/native fish in the river. Meaning that the wild/native fish that are there now, are nothing more than a compilation of "test tube" fish. There hasn't been a true generation of wild/native fish in there for decades, they're "manufactured" fish...including the hatchery ones.

    My question is, why? Why then would they all of a sudden just think that a manufactured fish is going to turn wild? Can that happen? Common sense says that it can be, but from what I've learned from the studies that NOAA has put out over the past couple of years, it can't be - or at least they say. Can the "hatchery gene", if you will, be bred out over a few generations? I guess it makes sense to shut the river down if it can be. However if it can't be, and they know it can't be, why do this? Doesn't it seem kind of hypocritical to manufacture a fish...just to call it "wild or native"? Doesn't this just seem to look like window dressing?

    Anyone have any insight?
     
  2. Freestone

    Freestone Not to be confused with freestoneangler

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    You seem to be using the terms interchangably and that may be causing your confusion. The words really aren't interchangable for the question(s) you are asking. A wild fish is simply born in the wild, regardless of genetics. Hatchery x Hatchery spawning in the river = wild babies. Native refers to the original stock/genetics of the river. Hatchery fish with out-of-basin genetics may have wild babies, but those wild babies will never be native (genetically).

    Will the river ever have pure native, wild fish again? I wouldn't be so quick to assume that there are no native genetics left in the river but that is a much more complicated answer...
     
  3. Chris Johnson

    Chris Johnson Member: Native Fish Society

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    From Chilcote 2011 study:

    "The magnitude of
    this negative relationship is such that we predict the recruitment performance for a population composed entirely of hatchery
    fish would be 0.128 of that for a population composed entirely of wild fish. The effect of hatchery fish on reproductive
    performance was the same among all three species. Further, the impact of hatchery fish from ‘‘wild type’’ hatchery broodstocks
    was no less adverse than hatchery fish from traditional, domesticated broodstocks. We also found no support for the
    hypothesis that a population’s reproductive performance was affected by the length of exposure to hatchery fish. In most
    cases, measures that minimize the interactions between wild and hatchery fish will be the best long-term conservation
    strategy for wild populations"
     
  4. generic

    generic Active Member

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    Thanks Freestone. I think I knew the difference, but now I'm sure I do. Funny how you go through life "knowing" an answer, yet you really don't. Thanks for clarifying that.

    Well then, that would explain why they are doing what they are, and it isn't so hypocritical as I stated. I think you may be right about the true genetics thing. However, one of the biologists I ran into on the river responded that he didn't think so. If there was, it was unmeasurable. We'll see I guess.

    What's really funny, is that about 7 years ago 20 pairs of Sockeye came up the river to spawn. They did, and there was no return. It was exactly 20 yrs since the last time a Sockeye had returned to that river. The biologists couldn't figure that one out. They had never planted any Sockeyes, and the 20 (from what I remember) were not hatchery fish.
     
  5. Chris Johnson

    Chris Johnson Member: Native Fish Society

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    If the habitat is there, salmon will repopulate it. That is how they have survived for hundreds of thousands of years in a young and changing geology like the pacific northwest.
     
  6. generic

    generic Active Member

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    I understand that Chris, I just thought it weird (as did the bio's) that 20 pairs showed up after 20 yrs, then never came back...and haven't since.
     
  7. Chris Johnson

    Chris Johnson Member: Native Fish Society

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    Yes, that is weird.
     
  8. freestoneangler

    freestoneangler Not to be confused with Freestone

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    Good point sister!
     
  9. cabezon

    cabezon Sculpin Enterprises

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    I'm not sure that this really is weird. After all, salmon are known to stray. This has been a key part of their strategy for invading newly-opened rivers in a region impacted by glaciers. It might be strange that 40 individual fish strayed all the same year, but it wouldn't be strange if one school strayed. After all, a single salmon could not jump-start a new population; it takes a minimum of two of the opposite sex to tango. Stochasticity (randomness) is a hard concept for humans to grasp; a rare event, a one in 50 year event or even longer, such as this one, could be sufficient to start a new population if the spawning habitat and rearing conditions were acceptable.

    Steve
     
  10. cabezon

    cabezon Sculpin Enterprises

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  11. generic

    generic Active Member

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    Yeah Steve, that's what the e-mail indicated (the cross breeding). I too have learned that the combinations (hatchery x wild) has a low survival rate. That's why I was posing the original question. Can that "dumb" gene get weeded out after a couple generations? Maybe that's what they are going to find out. I don't live on the west side, but over here...they haven't losed waters that steelhead in them for a long time, if ever. They haven't done that yet, but they are no longer planting hatchery fish anymore. My guess, and the biologist I talked to, thinks they may.

    As far as the Sockeye go, I know they wander too. I think it was the amount of time that had passed, and how many, that struck those guys as odd. That coupled with no returns at all since...no other "strays" if you will.

    Thanks for your insight too. :thumb:
     
  12. kamishak steve

    kamishak steve Active Member

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    In response to the "dumb" gene question:

    Whatever adaptations to that specific watershed the native fish have, typically will be those selected for even among the hatchery brats. for example, if lets say the shape of a particular river best suits fish that are long and slender (a lot of summer run rivers are this way) where ascending through canyon sections and waterfalls produces native fish that are normally long and slender. If you were to pump that river with fish that are normally much fatter in a hatchery program scenario (like skamania fish they use in hatcheries here), the hatchery fish that produce the most successful offspring, will likely be the most long and most slender fish of that hatchery breeding population. The fish will reevolve to those characteristics, it will just take a very very long time to do so, as many of these evolutionary selection processes for steelhead within a particular river may be several thousand years old.
     
  13. thesankers

    thesankers Member

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    Genetic studies in Minnesota and Ontario have shown that there are genetic differences between steelhead running in the various streams on the North Shore of Lake Superior. The fish have been there for <150 years. So, adaptive changes can happen pretty quickly. These studies were a part of the decison by Minnesota to stop stocking any steelhead in the 90's and let the fish fend for themselves.
     
  14. fredaevans

    fredaevans Active Member

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    That's one of best bits of 'intulectually' puils off fluofff i've rud in yars. I read 'something' like this and the first thing that tends to cross my mind is if the 'Author' has Blue eyes it just means he's a quart low .....

    "Hatchery fish with out-of-basin genetics may have wild babies, but those wild babies will never be native (genetically)."

    Agree, and that's what I like about Southern Oregon Rivers (can't speak to the stocking practices in the north half of the State) but all the hatchery brood stock comes out of wild stock from the same river. Me thinks that adds much to the Party.
    fae
     
  15. generic

    generic Active Member

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    That's how they do it in this river too, so I'm told by the biologists.