Hatchery-Raised "Natural" Spawners

multiple parts. the narrowing of the gene pool happens with the limited number of parents used and their impact on generations in the future. the effect of a limited number of parents increases year after year and generation after generation. genetics change due to selective pressure, and hatcheries change those selective pressures in massive ways. let's also not forget the increased fishing pressure and netting that happen when there are hatchery fish present. there is no harvest of wild fish now on the sol duc until feb 16th. do you think there will be more or less pressure if there are harvestable hatchery fish in the system. imagine this early winter if wdfw had not gone against their own policy and moved hoko fish into the bogachiel. the amount of netting in the early season would have had to reflect the lack of harvestable fish in the quillayute (with the calawah and sol duc's fish destroyed) and would have been reduced.

genetics and harvest are two parts of the puzzle. the third is the ecological effects of planting larger smolts in the river and high residualism rates (snider creek had very high residualism rates) have on the native steelhead spending two years in the rivers prior to smolting.

the combination of all three is a bad deal. when wild runs are large there is some ability to deal with them but as runs shrink they get progressively worse.

one person saying they would rather have no fish than restored runs that used hatchery fish to rescue extinct or almost extinct fish does not reflect the bulk of wild fish advocates who opposed hatcheries.

i'll continue to say that comparing rescue hatcheries with the common harvest based broodstock hatcheries (snider or oregon coast steelhead) is comparing apples to oranges. they are two different things. rescue hatcheries play a role in populations that are at risk of going extinct and are a lifeline while we work on the reasons for the decline. no broodstock hatchery will restore wild fish to a river that cannot support them.
Yes, I agree with this statement. High residualizaton rates of hatchery smolts can easily be seen in several areas, I'll use the NF Nooksack as an example, where these residents are outcompeting and displacing native salmonids.
I'm a huge proponent of a zero harvest system on severely depressed runs (read ALL steelhead runs) until escapements are raised to over 50% acceptable escapement. There's no f-ing reason to be commercially harvesting these fish beyond the short term dollar, and if the tribes had better consultation, theyd manage their fisheries for the angling crowd that would bring a LOT more $$$$ into their communities.
Harvesting 1000 steelhead at $10/fish doesn't bring shit into a tribal community compared to the potential recreational $$s that a thriving anadromous river would bring

Chris Bellows

Your Preferred WFF Poster
Harvesting 1000 steelhead at $10/fish doesn't bring shit into a tribal community compared to the potential recreational $$s that a thriving anadromous river would bring
and the only tribe that i am aware of that has a recreational industry continues to be one of the worst when it comes to netting wild steelhead and salmon on the coast.

the problem is that for most of the tribes, they have no land along sportfishing reaches and are located away from where people would want to stay or eat. tough for them to really get any kind of share of the pie.


Active Member
Let me see if I understand the logic in this effort.

Native fish are down to critically low numbers in this CA stream.
Native fish are locally adapted to their natal stream environment.
Hatchery fish are not locally adapted to the natal stream because fish that would not have survived in the stream are allowed to survive and eventually return to the hatchery, or spawn in the wild, because of hatchery practices (massively increased incubation and rearing survival compared to wild fish). This dilution of local adaptation happens over many generations in the hatchery.

So the thinking is that the hatchery fish (that are not locally adapted to the stream habitat) will outperform the wild fish in the habitats the wild fish are locally adapted for. The wild fish can't maintain a self sustaining run but the hatchery fish will be able to do this?

Unless the problem is overfishing of the wild fish before they can return to spawn, i don't see how this could ever work. Unless the productivity of the habitat is increasing drastically and their just aren't enough wild fish to take advantage of that improvement.

My guess is that the "wild" fish are doing poorly because they have been introgressing their genetics with hatchery fish by spawning with hatchery fish, thereby corrupting their local adaptation to the habitat. That, combined with habitat degredation and historic overfishing has caused the decline in wild fish.

Hatchery fish.......the cause of and solution to many of the problems for wild fish....yeah right!

Geez, when are these hatchery management assholes going to learn?


Well-Known Member

As near as I can tell from reading your post, you don't understand the logic path or how this program could work. I posted on how it could earlier in this thread.

Releasing all hatchery raised fish as un fed fry increases the overall fitness of the fish that smolt and leave a system. Problem is the #s that leave are drastically reduced because natural selective pressures cull out the fish unfit to survive.
So the log order increase in egg to fry #s hatchery vs native is then equilized to a # more in keeping with native spawn # vs # of out migrating smolts
And budget minded people hate that, although it's the best way to encourage "natural" reestablishment of runs and promote an overall fitness level to its highest degree while still utilizing a hatchery
Thanks for your thoughtful response. I still have a few questions:
I’m still not sure why the less fit brood stock fish damage the wild run as a whole? (Putting aside fish from other systems) I believe I understood why they might be less fit, just not sure why their offspring potentially spawning with ‘pure’ wild fish would hurt the genetics or health of the run as a whole? In short, how do programs such as Snider (which was free$$) put undue stress on the existing fish.


The answer to some of your question might be found in the link above, read the abstract and discussion.

As was stated earlier, if the run is functionally extinct, then you have no choice, I've seen it work on a small scale. A close friend of mine lives on a creek in B'ham area, in the 80's he had two egg boxes on the creek ( plywood box filled with gravel, intake and outflow pipes). When the fish emerge from the gravel, they go out the pipe and into the creek, and the strong survive. He raised coho and chum for about 3 yrs, until the state started messing with him over the eggs, so he quit. Both coho and chum still return to the creek every year. In some cases hatcheries can be an effective tool, but until recently we have put all our eggs in the hatchery basket, and it hasn't worked so well.


Not to be confused with Freestone
I reviewed both WSC and NFS websites to see if they clearly state that any hatchery based fish management is verboten, under any circumstance...anyone know if that is the case?

Chris Bellows

Your Preferred WFF Poster
I reviewed both WSC and NFS websites to see if they clearly state that any hatchery based fish management is verboten, under any circumstance...anyone know if that is the case?
i would suggest you contact either organization if you cannot find the information on their websites. seems simpler and more accurate than asking on an internet bulletin board.



Not to be confused with Freestone
I should think those on the forum that are members of these organizations would know...and why I asked. As a TU member, I know their positions on hatchery fish and their place in fisheries management and it's pretty well discussed on their website.

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