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Great points, Stumpfisher.


Every consituency that has a negative impact on fisheries (sport anglers, commercial anglers, Indian tribes, dams, timber companies, agriculture, developers, and our modern human society in general) too often denies it's part of the problem when it comes to degradation of wild fish populations. It is pointless to me to debate who is "most responsible" -- time for each constituency to step forward, acknowledge it's part of the problem and take steps to modify its behavior in ways that improve the chances of wild fish to survive and thrive.

Yes, there are wild fish in this state. Your Heinz 57 analogy is not terribly compelling. Even if there has been interbreeding among truly wild fish and hatchery fish, it doesn't mean that there's no reason to maintain and improve wild stocks (those that breed in the river and not in a hatchery facility). In fact, risk of interbreeding and the resulting ability of a steelhead population's ability to sustain itself is one reason we should be seeking ways to reduce reliance on hatchery fish for our fisheries and increase the number of wild fish.

No, it is not true that there is no genetic difference between wild fish (however you want to define that) and hatchery fish. Hatchery fish each year come from a very small number of parents -- hence hatchery fish lack the genetic diversity Mother Nature has so effectively created in wild fish. It is that genetic diversity that is one of the most compelling reasons to maintain and improve wild stocks and the lack of genetic diversity that makes a hatchery only fishery a dead end.

If we don't all do something to improve wild stocks on our local rivers, we won't be fishing much longer. Look what happened on the Wenatchee River. To that end, the proposals to have statewide catch and release requirements for wild fish is a step in the right direction. Let's pray that WDFW has the cojones to put them in place this time. Statewide selective gear requirements would also be a compelling step in the right direction, but I'm not holding my breath that we'll soon see that.
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